Market Research: A Picker in Training

I’m a picker in training. Part of  what I would like to be able to encourage in a market environment is offering a space for treasure rescue. I was trained in school to reduce, reuse and recycle. The vintage movement offers an opportunity to find quality furniture, vintage clothing, jewelry, and all sorts of unique odds and ends. Most in my family are farming folk, so I have been searching through old barns and other out buildings most of my life. It is like being on an archaeological hunt; Junk, junk, TREASURE!

Junk pile

At my dad’s newly acquired farm in Saskatchewan, I was playing the role of Indiana Jones. First, I backed off as the area of interest that I was investigating, because it was under unfriendly control. The neighbors junk pile was being rummaged through by a skunk… and my dad’s bathtub kinda needs a major restoration. I waited until morning to resume my search for precious items, in this case soda bottles from the 50’s through to the 70’s. After hours of kneeling in rotten metal cans and God knows what, I had rescued 2 bags of potential precious bottles, and some other possibilities. The hub of a wooden wheel with some broken spokes(more popular in the spring with Stampede fever), and a ceramic insulator(not as popular in recent years).

Next was the tour of the out buildings. This produced things such as a tin sign, old chains, rotten leather, old car parts, a dovetailed ink crate, and various pieces of junktiques. Hopefully finding a market with Halloween enthusiasts.

Outbuilding findOutbuilding find2

Also cats… so many cats and kittens!

Cats, cats and more cats

Cats, cats and more cats

Country Internet does not have the same speed as my urban speed, so it’s off to home to research clean and price, and hopefully market these pieces.

All I have to do is pack the car with kids, junk, and make a planned stopover for a potential sale on the way home. I make a two hour detour and find success, and the gas money for my trip home is paid for!  This adventure leads me back home to a flurry of interviews, then inventory exchanges with my picking mentor and I manage to convince myself that I have nothing of note to blog about.

I put some new pictures and ads on Kijiji and did some research on the items, went to Momentum and did interviews with program facilitators, signed my eldest up for school, and started cleaning some of the bottles that I had found.

Bottle cleaning

Some months are more full then others… Did I mention the antiques sale that I had a table at today? Either way I’m past due for an update on this site, and I need to keep a log of my progress on getting my market underway.

Today showed some profit from my work. I didn’t make a fortune, but I made some contacts, and my desire to share this journey has been renewed. So thank you for following my journey and I will endeavor to keep you entertained, and informed of my venture.

The last couple of weeks

The drive to the first Momentum orientation was interesting. I walked out into a welcomed stormy wind. With tornado warnings and having seen the funnel cloud forming, the impending simple straight forward rain storm was a little invigorating. I was wrong. I started driving and in less then a minute the hail was so bad that everyone was pulled over. I missed the opportunity to invite a passerby to dodge the storm in my car. When the hail let up I started driving again and was driving down a new riverbed. The hail had blocked the storm drains, and the water was rushing down the street.

I’m going to add a video of the street, after I edit it, here.

While trying to find an alternate path to the orientation, I spotted a woman with a walker trying to walk home. The streets were not friendly to start with, so I offered her a ride home, which she gratefully accepted, after negotiation 17th with no lights I got her home, and then went to the Momentum offices. There were local residence directing traffic around a new lake right next to the office, and I managed to get through and find a parking stall, just in time. I tried to get into the building but the doors were locked. The staff opened the doors to let me know there was a leak and the orientation was canceled. I heard a waterfall in there.

Instead of going straight home, I drove a man to the c-train and drove another home, then it was off to my home again. My family safe and sound, but the power had been knocked out.

The next day we rescheduled the meeting, and I made that one with no extra adventures. There were lots of great opportunity’s and I will be looking into which of the courses fit into the new school year!

I just got an amazing opportunity!

In the first post, I mentioned the process of starting a venture like this was driving in a rush hour traffic jam. I just got a break! I met up with Erin of Momentum and we had a wonderful chat. She didn’t have a signed lease to the building, but lots of little pieces that lead up to it!

Erin was a wonderful resource for just about every aspect from connecting me to spaces to get my feet wet on organizing market events to connecting me with education to help me with the paper aspects of the business. I was so impressed by this woman who is working to bring ethics back to business. I left the meeting with air in my lungs.

There comes a time when you should shut up and shake a hand and say good-bye… for better or worse, I never seem to do that. Asking personal questions about her life experience I was only more impressed. Finally the time was set and I said good-bye, but it still felt like there was too much space in the air around me. Have you ever felt like there was so much potential in the space around, you needed to put a mark on it? Mural painters must feel this way with every large unadorned space they see. While there is a beauty in blank spaces, like walls in a gallery, there must be variety to inspire.

I have the list of dates for the orientation, but I am preoccupied by a family matter. I am hoping for the best outcome. It should be decided by the 28th of June. Until then I’m sure I will be a basket case, and I’m trying to do small things.

My visit to the Calgary New Age Market

Naturally Unique stand and one of the market organizers

Naturally Unique stand and one of the market organizers

I had the pleasure of going to this market when it first started. It is a much different market from what I envision for what I am working to build. Building a market is something they have done over the last two years, so I went down to check out what Amanda and George had created.

We haven’t had a chance to really talk shop, it really wasn’t the right environment but we are in

Fifth Avenue Collection

Fifth Avenue Collection

contact now. The market is held once a month on a Saturday at the Hillhust/Sunnyside Community Center (1320 5 Ave NW Calgary, Alberta). While I was there I spoke to some of the vendors about their experiences with other markets and what they were looking for in a market space. Also got some nice pics of their table set ups. It’s always so inspiring to talk to entrepreneurs. Every one has a similar goal but

Little P's Pots

Little P’s Pots

there are so many paths, each one takes, to create their own success.

While there were many tables that caught my eye I took just a few pics so I wouldn’t get in the way of their business.

Elemental Illusions, has beautiful work and there is an extra bit of magic when you can



actually see the work being done while you watch!

This isn’t my first time seeing Little P’s Pots the Kid has been doing these awesome pieces for a while now, hmmmm… wonder if my daughter has a talent like this?

There are some people who have created their own products and there are people who are

Handycraft Creations on facebook Hand Crafted by Cathy Ziegler

Handycraft Creations on facebook Hand Crafted by Cathy Ziegler

selling lines from others. While I didn’t get many pictures of people who were offering readings they can be found at this market as well.

The set up is very spacious and from what I have seen of the Hillhurst/Sunnyside Flea Market on Sundays I am given to the understanding that this is due to fire code.

When I’ve been doing my calculations I have given one have of the the space I’m working with to walkways and it looks like I”m not far off.

Selest Harberstock and Mary-ann Gaudreau

Mary-Ann Gaudreau of Miche and Selest Harberstock of stella & dot

Janet Snelgrove

Janet Snelgrove

While reading about other market organizers another notion has been entered into the mix which is that I need to be careful about the types of vendor that I let into the market. Obviously I need to exclude anyone who has intentions of selling illegal goods, but beyond that I need to sort out what kind of image will work best for the International Ave market.

I have some great ideas about the layout and the physical look of the place. With supplies and some work it can be quite visually spectacular. The feel however may need more planning then I am comfortable with at this time. Generally I like an organic evolution when it come to the vibe of a place, but there are way to nurture the experience you want to give, and that will have to be a focus of my research now.

Janet Snelgrove little cupcakes and sushi

Janet made the cutest little cup cakes and sushi boxes out of baby clothes and little blankets and wash clothes… Soooooo cute!

While talking to the vendors I heard the same story, that a lot of markets will not take people who are selling cosmetic lines or other party lines.

I love the concept of everything being home made, but I don’t see why I would exclude a home based business (and those ones are expensive to get into). Granted there would have to be a mix.

I have also been in contact with the city of Calgary permits office, to find out what I need toThe Guru Mama Center run the Classic Tailgate Sale. There was a consensus in the office that due to the fact that the location can be moved so easy that everyone attending would need a $700 licence to participate in the sale. Not gonna happen that way, I know that much. For a regular market permit, at this time, I am looking at a little over $300, which mean I will need at least enough

YYC Growers and Distributors Society

YYC Growers and Distributors Society

space to hold 50 cars, and lets hope the rent on the parking lot isn’t too excessive.  Another idea has been placed before me in that I may be able to get use of city property to run the event. There is a place that would work very well if that could be pulled off.

Dusty Ray

Well, that’s about enough for right now. I want to put out a special thank you to Dusty Rea, for helping to connect me to all the great contacts and letting me know about the Great in Greater Forest Lawn event!

I need to be honest about my love of classic cars

The view I grew up with

The view I grew up with

Just drive though the woods they said... it's easy they said...

Just drive though the woods they said… it’s easy they said…

Since I have indicated that I want to do a Classic Tailgate Sale, I have been asked if I’m a car enthusiast… I’m not an educated statistical data kinda car lady. I am an artist, horse power does not hold my attention, a nice shape does. I also like the trivia about cars, I don’t mind getting greasy under a hood, or figuring out how to nurse a car back to running.

They said convert it to green power

They said convert it to green power

I grew up on a family farm, and visited another one for holidays. we had junk yards filled with old cars and farm equipment. While I was visiting my sister I took some pics of the romantic old trucks buried in greenery. I may not know the make model, horsepower or the number of cylinders in a car or truck. I do know the beauty and passion I see in a well kept piece of the machinery.

A pair of old trucks

A pair of old trucks

Hope you enjoy the pics, and I hope to see some better kept cars and their trunks soon 🙂

Due to technical issues:

Randomly a tec from our internet service provider asked to enter our yard yesterday afternoon. What a pleasant surprise! We have a hub in our back yard and this was the first time in years that permission was asked. While the tec was working our internet went down… okay he’s working, we can handle a couple of minutes without our phone and internet… ummm it’s been a couple of minutes, let’s ask him how long this is going to be – he’s gone. Half an hour of waiting on my cell (daytime minutes are limited) and I find out that there is no information on why this happened. The same tec should be giving us a call that evening but, no one calls (maybe he called the house phone and got a busy signal cause that’s broken too).

I`m writing this off-line, while my cell phone is on speaker, playing bad ‘on hold’ music interjected with a recording of a rep letting me know about all their great support systems online… arggggggggg

Sorry if I have missed your email or call, but it looks like my services call is scheduled for tomorrow evening. Still kinda wished I had been called for that update instead of having to call it in.  I do have a laptop, so I can travel and post and check in on my email. So I guess this has been a lesson to me. Call people or email them even if it’s bad news or a delay… I haven’t always been great about that kinda stuff in the past but when someone else’s schedule depends on your input, you need to keep them informed.

I haven’t been slouching while the internet was down. We have been fixing up the house, I took my daughter to the hospital (she’s okay), both the kids to a b-day party and now I’m visiting with family… and using their internet. I should get more visiting in, so I’ll post this and get back to it.

I Have Many Talented Friends, So I’m Networking

When working in real estate, we were encouraged to wear our badges, and let everyone we knew that we were in real estate sales. “Don’t be a secret agent!” (this was back when I could be called a real estate agent rather than associate) Instead of trying to quietly work on the back-end, of this, before I present it, and be armed with all my paperwork, I have acted. So far, I have blundered forward and been loud and charming, and have received a lot of new contacts for my effort. Now that I’ve got people thinking though, it’s probably time to show ’em i’m not just another pretty face.

I called a friend who has had some success in business and even helped put together an event or two. He didn’t feel that his knowledge was all that relevant to my idea, but he was willing to chat. Well, he was an awesome fountain of information. He helped me tame some of my expectations, confirmed what I knew about the market spaces in Calgary were not that outta date. He also let me know that him and his wife are in the process of buying an existing business, but he’s under contract not to tell what it is. This guy is a wonderful conversationalist, and I know that it’s killing him as much as it would be killing me, not to tell anyone what it is. They been working on this deal for about two years, and in that time have come across some great resources.

The Business Development Bank of Canada (, is the first place I have gone. There are tons of things on this site that let you sort out what you need to get funding, and to help develop a solid business plan. He also let me know that I should look up an executive summary template. Filling this out will give me and others a better definition of what I’m trying to accomplish.

I have been working on it, and have been working with my creativity to fill out the standard business form to my idea.