A day in the life of a market trader

Market StallAfter living here in France for nearly 4 years building up our gîte business, the time had come to look for another opportunity, but what? We needed something flexible enough to fit in with the gîtes but still give us the quality of life we had come here for.

Finding quality greeting cards locally had always been a common moan amongst friends, and it seemed there was still a gap here. So after further market research we decided to take the plunge.

But how do you get your business known in a foreign country without spending a fortune?

It all started at 06:30 am on a misty, Prayssac morning in September. We had the car loaded and as we drove into Prayssac, we wondered what our first market day would bring.

At 07:30 am, with official papers in hand, we reported to the Police Municipal outside the Mairie as requested. “Je viens” he told us, so we waited along with several other hopefuls to secure a place. Sure enough, he came back about 20 minutes later and the search for pitches started. It was like a piece from the Pied Piper of Hamlyn as we all followed him around looking for a space to pitch. As we moved along, he pointed at a place and people left the group to setup. At last he pointed to a place for us, gave us a look which said “is that OK?”, we nodded yes, and that was us with our two metre pitch appropriately placed outside the bank and opposite the pizzeria – handy for changing money and lunch! Although, what we didn’t see was the large drain hole that would end up right where we would be standing. Not to put too fine a point on it, one large gust of wind, and that would have literally been the days taking down the drain!

Ten minutes later, we were all set up and waiting for our first customers and having a bite to eat, as were the other stall holders. Little did we realise, it was plainly evident we were new to this “market thing”. We had a flask of coffee and croissants (which we thought was very organised!), others were on red wine and saucisson! Lesson quickly learnt.

Because it was a combined foire and weekly food/produce market (marché), all the stallholders seemed to have a busy morning and must have worked up an appetite, because bang on midday stallholders either disappeared to local restaurants or setup their own picnic tables, for what can only be described as a full 5 course meal. Our picnic – baguette and coffee – was another source of embarrassment and we will be better prepared next time.

In the afternoon there was more time to get to know other stallholders who were extremely friendly and interested in what were doing in France. They gave us lots of hints and tips for other markets in the area which they thought could be worth us considering.

All in all, we spent a very enjoyable day (aided by fantastic weather!) and met many lovely people who were pleasantly surprised with what we were doing and offered plenty of encouragement for the future. We would like to say thank you to all of you.

………Looking back that was probably the easiest part of the whole thing. Getting to the point of being able to attend the foire/market was much harder work than we had ever anticipated. Never, ever, could we have believed the number of offices we had to visit, the amount of paperwork necessary and not to mention all our own research on the internet to find out the latest law regarding setting up a small business (e.g. medical, pension, etc), as none of the local offices were able to give us a clear direction.

Has it all been worth it? Please ask us in 12-18months when we have cleared the paperwork and administration. For now we’d say yes, but as with any new business it is too early to tell, but we are thoroughly enjoying working for ourselves whilst enjoying the lifestyle we have chosen here in France.

&copy Kim Harvey

For further information or to request a brochure please contact Kim Harvey
on +33 5 65 36 56 03 or email her.

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