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Sunday, September 21

market analysis

Bright and early, again, to market, again. This time Eugene, a smaller market in a smaller town. My biggest hope for this weekend was that I wouldn't get dizzy again, having already come to the conclusion that selling at markets was not going to be some great step forward in my art "career". Career. I crack myself up.

The ride to Eugene is pleasant and peaceful, on back roads and through farmland. The highlight is a gas station with a price of $3.30 a gallon. (And they pump your gas for you! There is no self-service gas in Oregon, preserving a layer of employment.) Eugene itself is laid back and charming, but this is Oregon where "laid back and charming" is probably on the state seal somewhere.

Beth Little manages the market and has for the past 9 years. That's her in the orangey-red shirt:

I bet she would hate the description "perky", so I'm going to call her "upbeat". I signed in as a new vendor and she acted glad to see me, signed me in and told me where to go for orientation. I groaned inside, remembering Portland. But I needn't have worried. Early on in her presentation she explained that the market was designed to...and I paraphrase...celebrate the creativity that lives in the artist's core. Beth, say no more. You had me at "celebrate".

Note of interest: Eugene holds the trademark rights to the term "Saturday Market". Any city that wants to use the name, like Portland, has to put their city's name at the front of it and abide by the terms established at Eugene 30 some years ago.

Then as in Portland, we waited, although it seemed to go faster here. Maybe because the market is contained on 2 city blocks, in a park, and the options are not as diverse.

While waiting we struck up a conversation with a couple that met at the market 8 or 9 years ago. He was selling waterfalls of cord in rainbow hues and she was recently divorced and drawn to the joy of the colors. They married and do the market together now.

At Saturday Market, you pay $10 for an 8X8 space, $5 for a 4X4, plus 10% of your sales. The percentage is paid, on the honor system, at the end of the day. Some long time vendors have reserved spaces that they earned through seniority and cost a bit more. Membership for one year is $40.00.

As usual, as newcomers, we got a skinny space at the back end of the show. Two 4X4 spaces cobbled together. The young woman next to us was selling clay jewelry, most of which looked like food. Now, that sounds weird, but you should have seen the details of the rice in the sushi! Festive little cupcakes, tacos, pizza. I don't think she sold much but she got a lot of attention. I think she would kill at a show and I shared that feeling with her. She has a jump on the bloated jewelry category by having something unusual. I traded with her and got earrings that look like tiny artist pallets.

And we old-timers? Under a hundred bucks again. I think this is not for me. Actually, I think Frog earned mor than most of us.

Frog is a Eugene fixture, apparently. He pulls a sticker-covered wagon around and sells his stapled together books of jokes for $3. If you buy one, you get to squeeze the rubber chickens he pulls from the wagon. Each one has a different squeak and the last one has no squeak at all.

Did I buy one? Naturally. I was celebrating the creativity that lives in Frog's core. And besides, he autographed it!

So, market research having been completed, I'm thinking it's probably not for my product and absolutely not for my budget! If I were to choose, Eugene would be my choice and I would be willing to try again next year if we do an extended visit. I would make edgier things, try to tune into the PNW sensibility, go for the college crowd.

Or maybe tune into that poetry/rubber chicken gestalt.

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