Thursday, June 19, 2014

People Who We Thought Were A Threat

Back in the flea market world we have found people who have become our friends and those who we label as a threat to us and our business.

In the beginning of our endeavor at the flea market we began to attempt to "protect" our product.  We didn't want others to swoop in with our product and set up close or even far from us and sell the same product.  We identified one person, Chad, who owned a dip business three aisles over as a potential threat.  He had spoken to us and we had gotten to know a bit about him through our conversations and watching his actions.  He wanted to expand, take other dip businesses out, and take over the dips business in all of the flea market.  He began to expand quickly to two other locations with a possibility of a third location in the market.  Another dips business had "words" with him and he was hot to take them out of business. In casual talks with my husband Chad was told (by my husband) that we were looking into expanding to bakery items (pastries, cookies, breads, etc).  Next thing we know Chad has bought and opened a booth on the busiest aisle of the market and is selling breads, cookies, and pastries. Hmmmm..... wonder where he got that idea. Chad came over to our booth one day and bragged about his new booth and him selling baked goods and he mentioned he would also be selling jerky as well.  My husband reminded him of their "gentleman's agreement" that we wouldn't sell dips if he didn't sell jerky.  Chad responded with, "It's just business..."  Again, this man was labeled a threat.

We kept doing what we intended to do in the time we intended to do it in.  We opened up a booth with baked goods but ended up closing it within a month. It wasn't making money and it was taking away from our focus. We did it on our time and in our way, not because someone else was trying to swoop in on our ideas.

Chad eventually put jerky in his booth on the busiest aisle but the jerky is exotics and we don't deal in exotics.  So he ended up not a threat at all.

In January on aisle C, about 10 booths down from our jerky booth that my son ran for us, another vendor switched her product to jerky.  This time it was the same jerky that we sold. We identified her a threat. She tried to undercut us slightly which didn't work.  She never hurt our sales on that aisle or on any other aisle.  In February we closed our booth on C, not because of her but because we had bought a booth on the busiest aisle and my son, who had been running that booth had begun baseball practice and wasn't available to run that booth anymore.  In March, the other vendor on C had opened another booth on aisle F and by May she closed down her booth on C.  Currently, we have a vendor on aisle F who sells our product. He buys wholesale from us and he out sells this lady every day.  When we found out our number one  product had been discontinued, we cried and then decided to go with the flow and continue on.  We had other things in the works anyway.  This lady found a stash of this discontinued product and ordered 58 cases. She was going to wait for all us to run out of product and raise her prices and get our customers.  Two weeks ago we found her in another market during the week and she was unloading her product for less than what she paid for it.  Last weekend I walked by her booth on F and she had some jerky still on her table but she was also selling personalized, cartoons that you print off the computer.  She adds your name and prints it out and sticks it in a $2 frame for you.  She was never a threat and still isn't.  Again we did nothing but keep on doing what we were doing.

There was a guy who had been selling jerky in the market on aisle D for a long while prior to our arrival.  He had a whole store of all different jerkies, both exotics and beef.  He never sold our brand, however, he did have a relationship with the "honey" guy on the busiest aisle.  This honey guy has a booth just 4 booths down from us.  The honey guy would give the jerky guy on D some honey to sell in his booth.  Once we arrived on the busiest aisle the honey guy began selling our same jerky on his booth.  We approached the market since there was supposed to be a "5 booth" rule (can't sell the same product within 5 booths of the next person). However, the market chose to bend this rule since the guy had a double booth and the jerky was displayed on the far end of the booth from us.  Basically, the market chose not to deal with it. We labeled this honey guy a threat. However, he hardly ever sells any jerky that we have seen and he has never hurt our sales.  Again, not a threat in the end.

Lesson learned?

In business, most people are not your friends.

In business, you have to keep your mouth shut as to your own business plans because others will try to swoop in and do what you had planned first.

In business, label your threats and watch them. Most of the time they don't hurt your business at all if you are sticking with your plan and adjust accordingly. Be prepared to use the system in place to protect your brand (like we did with the honey guy).  But be prepared for the system not to work in your favor.

In business, those who swoop, rush, or try to take over a product that you are planning to bring in, will likely  fail in the process because they rushed to beat you.

In business, stick with your plan and time frame. With careful thought and planned actions you will succeed.

In business, often no response to those who act looking for a response from you will anger them more than any response you could have given them. Chad was looking for a response when he came over to tell us he was selling jerky in his booth.  We didn't give him one.  He was looking for a response when he began selling bakery items.  We didn't give him one.  The lady on aisle C was looking for a response when she began selling our product but we didn't give her one.  We still aren't sure why the honey guy is selling jerky. We believe the other jerky guy who is in business with the honey guy was looking for a response, but we didn't give him one either.  What we did do was just acknowledge that we knew what they were doing and selling.  That was all.

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