As soon as I got my driver’s licence at the age of 18, I set off to my first job in sales at the local trash and treasure market at Wantirna in Melbourne. The appeal of the Wantirna market was that sellers were admitted on a first come, first served, basis, meaning none of the sellers had permanency.
I used to sell with my parents at the Croydon market from the age of 16, so that’s how I got introduced to markets.
I had no interest in working for anyone else, and I spent every Sunday at the Wantirna market during while I studied computer science at Monash University.
It was a one-man show – I would sell cheap apparel like windcheaters, tracksuit pants, t-shirts and the like. They were cheap and simple items, which I sold for $5.
The market is called a “trash and treasure” market and at least 90 per cent of the sellers there were just getting rid of unwanted second hand stuff from home. My private joke was that I was the only one selling ‘treasure’.
I loved the buzz of achieving strong sales and the constant interaction with people. Spruiking was a key feature of my sales strategy, and I would shout out loudly to encourage more shoppers to the stand. The more shoppers looking through your merchandise, the more attractive it is to other passers by.
I was always the busiest seller in the market and always the first to go home as the stock constantly sold out.
Some of what I learned in those early days at the market can be seen in some of the current concepts used today at CatchOfTheDay.
The money was great – I used to earn the equivalent of an average weekly salary in five hours, so I had cash coming in during my uni days while still having plenty of time for life and study. We’re talking late 1980s – the earnings were around $500 to $800 for a half day of work. I was a typical 18 to 20 year old, spending my cash on clothes, food and drink and travel.
But I didn’t like the early morning rises! I normally had to be at the market by 5am in order to get a good position. I remember a few occasions where I’d go to the market directly from Saturday night clubbing.
I did it constantly for four years, saying that I would keep on “marketing” throughout my working career. I did the occasional weekend right up until CatchOfTheDay was launched when I was 36.
The job taught me all the basic skills of selling – from respect to honesty, down to marketing and product sourcing. I hope to return there soon with my kids and experience the buzz again…and teach them the basics of sales.