31 July 2011 Market Report

This was the first time I had enough volunteers who could stay all day long on hand to implement one of my single biggest goals for this season. Counting people.

This comes, in part, from my scientific training. Those of us who run the market can say “It seems busier than usual” or “It seems slower than usual”, but it’s based entirely on gut feeling. Which, to be frank, is going to be influenced by exactly what is going on at the moment you say that. I would not be surprised to find we had a day where at one point someone said, “It seems busy today” and a different point said, “It seems slow today”. Or two different people felt two different ways.

For example, I thought the market seemed about normal in attendance. My board had no comment on attendance until someone mentioned to one of them that Fiesta del Sol was going on down on Cermack. Then, suddenly, everyone was telling me they thought the market was slow. I, having not heard about the Fiesta, continued to think they were nuts & it was fine.

Eventually I heard about Fiesta del Sol too, but by then, my “mind” was made up. We were fine.

There’s no way to know if we were busy or slow. We need to count people. As often as possible. Right now, we have no idea what our attendance numbers are. We don’t even have a baseline against which to compare. My hope is that, by the end of the season, we’ll have this. We should also have some idea of what impact different weather conditions have on attendance. And when people most show up. And if things like Fiesta del Sol have an impact on us.

This will guide how we run the market next year. Thus this particular day was, as far as I was concerned, all about planning for next year. Start getting attendance numbers. Start looking at set-up. Thinking about what vendors we have and which ones we anticipate will be back next year.

One of the things I’m considering is changing the market hours, for example. I have a gut feeling that we could do as well or better with a change in hours (no, I’m not telling you what change just now). In the past, the market would have changed those hours based on that gut feeling. Or similar input.

In my opinion, that’s not a great way to make changes. It’s pretty easy & tempting to do so, but we often get our gut feelings wrong. It’s a good idea to get data to guide us. Because, let’s be honest, I currently think a change in hours is a good idea, based mostly on my gut.

What if the attendance numbers say that’s a bad plan? If I made that change without having those numbers, I could seriously & negatively impact my market.

This is just some of the data I wish to collect this year. I need yet more volunteers to get the rest of it, but I am also trying to think of ways to get that data with the volunteer staff I have.

Other things happened at the market too, of course, but mostly this “market boss-lady” (“see comments here”:http://metacookbook.com/archives/267-Market-Day-Any-Questions.html) was focused on the market’s future.