The ghost market

Marzeus von Hemelen By Marzeus von Hemelen, 26th Oct 2015 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL
Posted in Wikinut>Business>Sales & Marketing

One day I get an email from Merril, the lady who organizes that Farmers Market where Mother and I saw no potential customers whatsoever when we went to check it out on Saturday.

The email is a follow-up to our initial application to exhibit and sell our items at their market.

Shouldn't you set up the market where there are potential customers?

I reply:

"Hello Merril

Could you perhaps tell us how many stalls you expect there Saturday and if you think we'd get enough buyers there?

Saturday past we went for a bit of a look at your Famers Market but we could only find about four stalls and two food carts and unfortunately no buyers in twenty minutes aside from ourselves.

It was heartrendingly sorry for us because we are looking exactly for a market like this in the vicinity, with people buying to their hearts' content.

I don't know if you think it will be different this coming Saturday, but do feel free to say if you believe it would indeed be worth our effort and time, and we'll be there.

Greetings, Marzeus.

"This time will be better"

Merril replies that she wasn't there the Saturday past and that many exhibitors were at other markets. However, this coming Saturday they'll be plenty of exhibitors again and they'll have a jumping castle and colouring-in competition, and it also plays a role that it would be closer to the month end's payday which also plays a role.

Mmmmmm.... shall we go?

You can hear a cricket drop a needle

Skip time to the next Saturday. We were convinced to come to the "Farmers Market". Here we sit.

It's a travesty.

I feel like I'm in the Twilight Zone or something. We're in this weird, weird, weird ghost market. Not a "Farmers market" at all.

We worked really hard!

These past days, Mother and I have been making so many DVD copies of our Whiskers and Flappy children's DVD that it seems the printer that prints the faces on the DVD's is now broken. It refuses to print with the yellow ink, even when we replace the printer cartridges.

Good Lord, have we worked! We were going until 9 or 10 pm every weeknight that was left. And now, we have two boxes full of the professionally printed, professionally packaged DVD's, all ready for sale.

*Crick crick crick...*

Except... there aren't anybody who buys at this "market", but plenty of stalls with things for sale. It's exactly the same as it was last Saturday when Mother and I came to have a look, except now there are almost twenty stalls but absolutely nobody of the public buying anything.

It's a weird, illogical ghost market.

What's weird and illogical about it is that this "market" is here every Saturday. Every single Saturday, and yet from what we gathered from that woman we talked to last time, and what we saw for ourselves now and then, there are never any buyers.

Worst location imaginable

The reason is simple. This location is the parking area of a chain store that closed down some months ago and relocated. So naturally most all of the other shops in this centre also moved away after some traffic.

This left this place a barren ghost area, with just about no members of the public ever coming here, except for the one or two a day who still frequent the old co-op, one of the less popular shops, still operating at one end of this centre.

The result is that there's nobody here to buy any of the products that these "farmers market" exhibitors exhibit here so loyally every Saturday.

What is wrong with them?

I take a good look at all of them. They all sit there behind their tables of goods packed out, staring into space. They have no customers.

Why in blazes are they sitting here then???? Why did they come????

It baffles me completely. Can this truly be happening? Can this truly have been going on since the beginning of the year, every Saturday???

Zombies with no souls

I look at them for hours. There's a woman with three young teenage girls who have made these pretty pink packages filled with candy, all neatly put in rows on a table. They don't have a gazebo and are sitting in the harsh sun, hour after hour.

They were also evidently going to be handling the "colouring-in" competition, whatwith the children's bright coloured plastic tables and chairs put out with crayons and paper all ready.

Except... after hours and hours, their pink little sweet packages are still standing untouched, unsold as neatly as they were when they were put out on display early this morning. No children whatsoever are sitting at the tables, doing any colouring in. There is obviously not going to be any winner for the "colouring-in" competition, because there aren't any contestants.

I look at a stall right in front of us on the opposite row. A man and his daughter are selling all kinds of biltong out of big, clear plastic containers. The containers remain unopened and the contents unsold. Nobody comes to buy anything.

Yay! There's somebody alive! Buy, please buy!! I beg you, buyyyyyyy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hour after hour this continues. Mother and I have a picnic behind our display, enjoying the tea and food Mother brought us.

Ah good, there's a man and woman with a child that is pointing at our television screen that we set up, displaying footage from Whiskers and Flappy.

The child is fascinated with our story running on the TV, but the father and mother don't want to stop.

Some hours later, two grown men and a woman walk by, and one of them spots our television display. One of them seems a little simple and says he never even heard of "Whishers and Floppy", but the other man seems more intelligent and asks if we produced it ourselves, therefore explaining why none of them ever would have heard of it before.

This second man also seems fascinated with what he sees on the television, remarking to the other one how it's actually quite well done.

But the woman, who seems a bit fat and daft, not even noticing why the two men stopped and then impatiently coming back after walking on a few steps, orders them to come with her and asks them impatiently why they stopped. She drags them away from there.

It's time to cut our losses

Well, after three hours and those two instances of people almost showing interest, all is quiet again, with no feet whatsoever walking through this entire "market". All the stalls have their owners staring blankly into space with no customers in sight whatsoever.

Mother says she can't sit anymore and she gets up and walks around to every stall to see what in blazes is wrong with these people for coming here. Or something. She's just bored really.

Out of boredom, she actually makes some people's day by buying some sugary garbage from most all of them, except from the ones we bought something from last Saturday also out of pity.

After some time, Mother comes to sit back down with all her rubbish she bought. She suggests we just pack up and go. It's obvious this is all just some weird nonsense.

We have to PAY for this?????? Total loss.

Merril comes by at some point to collect our R100 fee. I feel like using some F word. For "fee" I think, see. Seriously, we have to pay to come sit here??? She should be paying us.

Mother actually knows Merril. She didn't know it until she saw Merril this morning. Merril rented some house at Fireton Estates or something.

Mother tries to ask Merril tactfully why in blazes they're using this location for this market. There's obviously no feet walking by here whatsoever. Merril says she does it for someone else. Whoever that might be.

Vendors start disappearing

Well anyway, it's not long before the guy who is selling farm chickens, no hormones or biotics added, drives off with his fridge on his bakkie. Didn't sell a thing from what we could see. The "rules" say we have to stay until 2pm, but he's gone long before that.

Then, an old man next to us who's been staring blankly into space making no sales, sitting behind a table displaying delicious fancy marmelades his wife makes, puts his stuff in his car and he's outa there too. At least he had one sale when Mother had bought a glass container of beautifully rolled orange peels in orange marmelade from him.

That's the thing we don't understand, judging by the things Mother bought from these people. It all seems freshly made for today, and yet they sold either nothing or just one or two things. Do they now throw away this stuff and make new stuff for next Saturday? How in blazes can they run a sustainable business that way?

And from Mother's excursion around the stalls, she learns that one of these stalls are people who came all the way from Johannesburg to set up their solar light system stall. Seriously, they think they'll do better setting up a stall here than they would in Johannesburg??? Were they expecting people walking by, looking in on their stall?

Can God save us?

Some white hillbilly-looking guy with bad teeth, and his black friend with glasses, appear out of somewhere. They say they're from some church, and would like to pray for us if we wish.

I say yes. I wanted to say "yes, please pray for customers to come and buy all our stock immediately afore we go mad", but didn't want to be so blunt.

They pray for Mother and I. They pray that our business grow and be successful. I must say, I enjoy the attention and the love. The love of Christ is beautiful.

Afterwards, the black guy tells me in English that he "senses" sometimes I make a decision but can't, and should know that God is making that decision.

I'm not sure what he means but I enjoy the attention as I said, so it's all enjoyable.

He points at our exhibited products and says something about a business starting small and shall multiply, whenever. I sure hope so. Even one sale at this time would be an immense improvement.

I then notice that the two guys are not alone. There are two teenaged ladies following at a distance, filming or photographing us with their cellphones. They don't have my permission and I didn't sign a release, but I suppose there's nothing I can do about it now unless I want to seem ungrateful for the free prayer. When I see the two girls leave with the two guys who prayed for us, I assume they're just documenting their missionary work with these photographs they took. Maybe it's for their blogs. Whatever.

This is a disgrace to business sense

Well, with Mother full of sugar, having devoured some of the garbage she bought out of boredom, she's much more aggressive. Let's leave, says she, explaining that this is ridiculous and we're just driving ourselves insane sitting here like idiots. It's obvious nobody's coming to buy anything, seeing as there's nobody of the public here.

So, I go get the car and park it next to our stall and we pack up in an extremely short period of time, and we drive off.


Well, that was certainly an experience, according to Mother. The climax for her was the prayer those two came to say.

I say that I did say we should expect nothing and see anything we do make as just a bonus, since we know from last Saturday that this is a terrible location. Unfortunately, now it seems we expected nothing and got exactly what we expected: Nothing. In fact, we lost money paying the "exhibitors fee", and it was all a waste.

I must say, when I said expect nothing, I meant maybe one or two or five or ten or twenty sales, as opposed to a hundred or two hundred. Not nothing as in absolutely zilch!


We can't get our heads around it. Why in blazes are those people sitting there? There's no traffic there, no buzz there, and it's an abandoned ghost market. Why are they there? Why do they do it? Why have they been doing it for months? Why waste their lives there? THERE AREN'T ANY BUYERS THERE!!!!


Well, we leave behind the strangest, strangest ghost market where sellers pay money to exhibit freshly made products every Saturday in all neatly set up stalls they have to set up themselves, then sitting there for hours and hours and hours, staring into oblivion like their souls and consciousness have left their bodies, until it is time they just pack up everything again, unsold either entirely or to a 99% degree, only to do it all again the next Saturday. Insanity abound!



Crowds, Customers, Empty Market, Feet, Loss, Marketing, No Customers, Numbers, Product, Profit, Selling

Meet the author

author avatar Marzeus von Hemelen
I like eggs for breakfast. I live on top of a hill inside a beautiful but old dwelling complex. I like to take life in through my senses and then give feedback through my writing.

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