Earlier in the year when my friend Elizabeth said she would like to have a stall at a brocante or vide grenier to sell some of her craft work, I said I would join her and sell some of my jewellery.
We looked at the booklet which gives the dates and locations of all the brocantes in our area and chose the one at Huismes in early September.
I seem to remember choosing that one because of the dates we were both available, the number of stalls (not too many so there wouldn’t be too much competition but enough to guarantee plenty of visitors), the time of year (likely to be not too hot and certainly not as perishing cold as the Christmas market I did at Ferrière Larçon) and the location. Huismes is a nice village not far from Chinon so we thought it could be one of the more upmarket events.
How wrong we could be !!
We had a practice run at setting up in Elizabeth’s garden and without a doubt our stall looked the business. But it turned out to be completely out of place.
In the very chilly early morning as cars, trailers and vans were queuing up to get a place I could see that most of what other people had for sale was just junk. In fact even before got out of the car an older couple approached and, having spotted the only English number plates on the field, asked us if we had any Wedgewood. We didn’t, which is a pity.
I had a walk around once we were set up and saw that we were the only stall selling anything new or of any quality. The rest was all jumble sale stuff, a lot of it the sort of stuff I would have long since taken to the tip !!
We had a lot of interest and compliments as people examined and admired our work. Elizabeth sold some pictures, cards and needlework but I sold only two pieces of jewellery.
One was a nice little necklace to a nice little girl who was with her nice handsome dad who obviously was also in the wrong location and was not going to buy his daughter anything grubby and well used !! The other was “thrown in” at a knock down price for a lady who really only wanted the cheap jewellery box that we had on display and thought she might as well buy a necklace to go in it. I let it go for a silly price, although it pained me to see a lovely, well made necklace of semiprecious stones and crystals being stuffed into a cheap Chinese trinket box. I’m not usually that precious about my jewellery but I wish I had kept it to wear myself.
It was an interesting experience. Altogether we sold 53€ worth of goods. As the table cost 6€ at least we were in profit – but not if you take into account the cost of the petrol to get there !!
The man who had a large stall with his wife opposite ours was very friendly and highly amused. Between them they had made 450€ selling absolute trash. He said so himself. I asked him about it and he said this was the last brocante they were ever going to do, having done three a year for the last ten years. They were selling unwanted stuff from their house and on this day it was mostly a euro or less. He advised us to bring junk next time !!
So it’s all down to location, location, like everything else.
You have to know your brocantes and some are definitely better than others in the sense that at some you only get people selling junk, at others you get quality stuff, furniture, antiques and crafts. We had judged it completely wrong.
There were also some thieves about. The friendly man opposite had had things stolen from his stall and he blamed it on the groups of swarthy looking travellers. We watched how they visited the same stalls over and over again, in groups with lots of young children, which would make it easy for things to be taken from one end of the table while the stallholder was distracted at the other end. He also said that the middle of the afternoon was the worst time – he described the new arrivals as “paysans” – wanting stuff that was really cheap. Can you get cheaper than 1€, I thought – 50cents perhaps. Still, he seemed happy enough, as it was all pretty worthless anyway and it would be less to take to the tip the next day !!
The saying goes “third time lucky” so with two disappointing stalls behind me maybe the next one I do in France will hit the jackpot ~ so long as I remember it’s down to “location, location” !!