Yesterday was the day of the flea market that I vended at. The unfortunate news is that I didn’t take any pictures of my table set-up (well, there’s always next time at least 😉 ). However, the good news is that it went pretty well and I made a few sales. It definitely took a great deal of preparing though (material-wise as well as self-preparation)!
For anyone who has an energy-depleting chronic illness whom has a desire to create products and sell them at events…this post is for you! 🙂 However, this post can really apply for anyone–chronically ill or not.
Here are some tips which I can give in regards to before, during, and after the event:
1. Prepare and pack a week or so in advance. Come up with checklists and inventory lists. That way, you don’t forget to bring anything. I did this with my crochet items so I could keep track of what was there as well as what certain things sold. I also created a checklist on my iPod of the things I needed to bring. It definitely helped out because–believe it or not–I didn’t forget anything!
2. Rest up a few days before the event. This one is VERY important! It doesn’t mean that you have to stay in bed for days. However, you’re going to need to cut back on the things that you normally engage in. For me, this meant that my outings had to be really simple and I needed to do a lot of passive activities such as casual crocheting and watching YouTube.
3. When packing, keep the environment in mind. Bring a pop-up tent, sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses, and comfortable clothing if you’re going to be outside. For me, unfortunately, I didn’t have a pop-up tent. I had a huge adjustable umbrella which my dad helped with setting up. It worked out for the most part, but the wind kept on moving it around and it even fell over at one point! As much of a nuisance it was, it did teach me that next time I vend for something outside, I’m going to pitch up a tent instead.
4. Bring a comfortable chair, or a chair with extra pillows and cushions. Mine was the latter–I brought my favorite pillow for my back as well as a couple of cushions to sit on. It definitely saved my back and butt from hurting a lot!
5. If someone is driving you to your destination, spend the ride resting. That way, you’ll have some “extra spoons” for the event. On the way there, I laid down on the backseat, resting my head on the pillow I brought and closing my eyes for about 10 minutes. This was an early morning event, so my parents and I had to leave at about 6:40…something I’m SO not used to doing anymore! I was pretty groggy on the way there, so the mini nap definitely helped out.
6. Have a buddy system (family and/or friends) to help you out. It definitely saves on energy! It was a blessing that my parents were able to drive me there and help me with setting my table up. Also, it was another blessing that a good friend of mine came to the flea market as well and kept me company for a few hours (plus, it’s a great relief to have someone there just in case if you need a bathroom break!). During lunch time, it was just me for an hour and a half until my mom came and helped out during the end. My dad came with the van and we all helped with packing everything up. Believe me, those three were earth angels to me after all was said and done yesterday. I don’t think I would have survived through a 7-hour event without them! 🙂
7. Stay hydrated and make sure that you eat enough to prevent major fatigue, brain fog, and dehydration. It was a beautiful sunny day yesterday at the flea market. However, it got REALLY hot! It was in the 80’s and I went through almost 3 bottles of water and a decaf iced coffee (thank God for the buddy system because I had to use the bathroom a few times!). Despite all the fluids that I had, I still dealt with fatigue and dizziness. Staying hydrated is super, super important to me. There was one time a few years ago where I did a tag sale by myself for a few hours with very little to drink and it was really hot out. Consequences? I ended up with a super bad sunburn and I almost passed out the next morning from dehydration!
8. If you can, balance between sitting and standing during your time there. If you stay sitting, you can become stiff easily. However if you stay standing, it will bring fatigue faster. I did a little bit of both during my time there. I sat, stood, and also did a little bit of walking to and from the bathroom (when someone was there to watch my things of course).
9. Be in the moment. If you feel anxious about symptoms coming on, focus your attention on your surroundings. The feeling of the breeze blowing through your hair, the sound of children laughing and having fun. Engaging in mindfulness helps with calming your body and mind–therefore, you’re less likely to deal with intense symptoms during the time of the event. I know when I was there by myself for an hour and a half, I was getting anxious. It was hot, I was feeling fatigued and kind of dizzy, and I was running out of water. I felt better though when I noticed that there was a drinking fountain. Plus, I did a little bit of crocheting in order to get my mind off of the uncomfortable symptoms.
10. Pack up your things in small increments, and do the same when putting your things away after the event. That way, you’re not expending all of your energy on the mere act of packing your things.
11. After the event, get plenty of rest and keep things as simple as possible until you start feeling more improved. Yes, despite the fact that I was prepared for the event and tried to make things as simple as possible for myself, there’s always going to be that crash. However, the crash doesn’t have to be a long and intense one. Afterwards, I was downright exhausted and kind of crabby. This morning, it took me a couple of hours to finally get out of bed and moving. Plus, it felt as if my kneecaps exploded (the rest of the pain was there as well, but for some reason my knees are in the worst pain). Despite the major drawbacks, the crash really isn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be. With the help of a little caffeine and some brief gentle walking with my dog, I was able to get moving. Plus, I haven’t dealt with any meltdowns so far. 🙂
Lastly, if you’re at an event and you cannot make it through the entire thing, that’s okay. It’s more important to listen to your body than to push yourself throughout the entire thing and end up paying the consequences for days or weeks. When I was by myself during the middle of the event, I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it through the entire thing or not. I noticed that I was feeling dizzy and fatigued from the heat and also doing more than usual. I was able to turn things around though through the act of “mind over matter”. My motivators were: 1. my mom was coming to help out after work and she was bringing along my iced coffee from Dunkin Donuts, and 2. there was always the possibility of getting more sales.
In addition, I got to walk around at the end and there were an abundance of FREE THINGS from tag sale tables. In the end, I got some free clothes, slippers, a wallet, and a Shrek doll for Anubis to play with. 🙂