Selling mosaics: on the front line
Athens in June. Imagine it. Streets clogged with traffic and choked with exhaust fumes; endless blocks of high rise concrete apartments, shabby and peeling; the fierce summer sun bouncing off car bonnets; valiant geraniums in feta-tin pots providing brief glimpses of colour on balconies above shuttered shop fronts daubed with apathetic graffiti.
Ah, but there’s another world too. Kifissia. Known as the Grotto of the Nymphs in Pericles’ time and described by a comptemporary of Hadrian as a place where ‘spacious groves are melodious with plashing waters and tuneful birds.’ Two thousand years later, it’s not much changed. At the end of the metro line, it’s still a green oasis with venerable mansions set in well-kept gardens, quiet streets and even a bike lane, which I bet is the only one in Greece. It starts from nowhere and leads to nowhere but, hey, it hardly matters, the prime minster lives here and once upon a time there was plenty of European money sloshing around.
Selling mosaics: a perfect venue
So this is where the summer bazaar took place. Lawns so sweeping that they seemed to carry on to the end of the block. A dog enclosure so grand that a friend mistook it for a mini-zoo. An outdoor house of proportions far exceeding the average dimensions of those far-away city apartments. It seemed like the perfect venue. A place to come and browse among the stalls, to meet friends and sit in the shade sipping iced lemon.
There were stall-holders a plenty, umbrellas to shade us, amply-sized tables, even a kind lady distributing bottles of water and plastic cups and a white-uniformed waiter selling neatly packaged sandwich squares – just enough to quell one’s hunger in-between rounds of selling mosaics. It’s just, oddly, that it didn’t work out that way. Let’s set the scene:
The end of a long day of (not) selling mosaics:
But at the end of a long day, nine hours to be precise, my ‘bargain basket’ of mosaics that had either gone slightly awry in the making or ones which I had had so long that I couldn’t stand the sight of them any more, was empty. As for the others, the ones I had spent hours lovingly making and tweeking and refining and obsessing over, well, they were still where they had been at the start of the day. I didn’t sell one. Zero. Zilch.
What can I say? Where did I go wrong? I cant really say. There weren’t many visitors and those who came focused on the cheaper things, for which one can hardly blame them. Maybe it wasn’t a good idea to have it mid week? Maybe it’s better to have bazaars before major public holidays like Christmas or Easter? Or maybe, let’s face it, bazaars aren’t the ideal place for selling mosaics? Who knows.
Here is a little stone head I made which, along with others, was for sale for E30 ($40 or GBP23). It’s made on concrete and has a little hanger on the back. You can put it anywhere and it’s weather proof, water proof, frost proof, life proof. Was that too much?
Suffice to say, I left feeling rather disgruntled and since then I have been taking a long, cool look at myself and my mosaics and thinking hard about where to go from here. No decisions yet, but I’ll keep you posted.
Meanwhile, here’s a helpful (I hope) checklist for those determined mosaic sellers out there that want to launch themselves into the world of bazaars:
- Packaging, bags, stickers
- Flyers, price list, business cards
- Scissors, sellotape, stapler, pens
- Tablecloths, blocks for propping mosaics up
- Props – plant?
- Sandwiches and flask of tea
- Fully charged camera
- A float and box for change
- A good book for the slow moments/hours
But all was not lost – I found a gorgeous mosaic in that vast and cavernous outdoor facility that I was telling you about: