“You’re here!” Things That Make a Good Day When the Market is Slow July was a slow month for us. It was slow last year, so this doesn’t come as a surprise. But still, I feel filled with optimism at the start of every market, that feeling that this one could be great. There are so many quality vendors here – people will come. And yet – July was slow. Last Thursday, I did a market outside of the city that was well-advertised but poorly attended. It was one of those fuming hot and humid days that carried the constant threat of thunderstorms (-rain that ultimately didn’t come), a sure way to banish any but the most loyal market-goers. But halfway through the market, as I absentmindedly stared down at my phone, I heard, “You’re here!” and looked up to see the most joyful expression on the face of a woman probably 6 feet from me, standing stunned in the middle of the gravel path. She explained she’d bought from me the last time I was at the market – about 5 weeks previously – but gave the hot sauce away to a friend, and her husband had been annoyed ever since that they hadn’t gotten to try it first themselves. She joked, “Maybe once I bring home a new bottle, he’ll love me again.” She bought the second bottle, we smiled at each other, and I wished her well. While it always feels good to work a busy, profitable market, there are so many other factors that can make for a good day, even when it’s slow. The best moments are always with customers: that person who says they’ve been looking for you since the last time, or someone who stumbles across your booth for the first time, delighted. When most of the work in this company is done by just myself and our small team, having a window into our customers’ lives gives joy and purpose to all of our preparation. At markets, I get to learn about each person – what they enjoy, how they cook: “I’m making wings, what would go well with that?” “We’re making dinner with what we picked up at the market – what goes with these ingredients?” Or, “I’m buying a gift for my son who loves hot sauce – what would you recommend?” We become a hot sauce concierge, giving advice and guidance on how to spice it up just right. I notice what customers notice – what they remark on, likes and dislikes, how they’ve used our products. I get to see folks’ reactions trying our hot sauces for the first time: the big eyes, raised eyebrows, exclamations (“that’s fun!”). On this market day, a couple came through with their baby and tried two hot sauces, giving their infant son the last tiny taste – and even he loved it. Towards the end of the day, as the forecast worsened and foot traffic failed to pick up, vendors packed up early. With half an hour left, I was the only booth left in my entire row – might as well just stick it out. But in the last ten minutes, a couple rounded the corner, exclaimed “hot sauce!” – bought two of our highest priced items, and left with, “Keep selling – you’re not done yet.” It was the right encouragement, at the right time. Yes, July was slow, but connecting with our customers is what makes any market – busy or not – worthwhile. We’ll be here.