Work Abroad

Selling Your Stuff

Now’s the fun part. Remember there’s a fine line between an international trader and an idiot stuck with boxes of crap in your parents’ attic.

For any selling you must look like money. If you dress like a tramp then no one will want to hand over cash for what you carry with you. The same goes for your attitude and how you carry yourself.

The Shops

Remember all those shopkeepers you spoke to before you left? Well, most of them don’t remember you now. And anyway times have changed. They’re barely breaking even themselves. How much do you want? Do you know how many years I’ve been in this business? Okay, I’ll take 3 pieces on sale or return.

If you’re selling to shops in a place where there’s a high and low season it can be excruciating. At the beginning of the season no one has any money as they’ve had no business the past few months. In the middle of high season they’re too busy to pay you any attention. Then when the tourists start to drop off they’ll ask you: ‘And to who can I sell your things? The season is over.

On the off chance that you’ve brought back something worth buying don’t sell to the first shop you come across. Do the rounds and see where you can get the best price.

Put stuff in shops on sale or return as a last resort only. You might get lucky though and with some initial success they’ll be willing to put cash up in advance for more.

DIY Marketing

The best way to make money is to sell your stuff yourself. Your Brazilian bikinis may be ghastly but if you have the gift of the gab the you can still sell them. Yes, as well as expert buyer and smuggler you have to be a good salesperson too.

Find out where the good markers are. In London for example freelance traders can come and set up at Portobello Road and Camden Town. You need to know where you can get a pitch without being a local with ten years standing.

Presentation is everything on your stall. Don’t pile all your wares up. Invest in a nice display case for your rings or a rail for your clothes.

Festivals can be good places to hawk your wares. People have cash to spend and you can sell as you walk around if it’s something small. One friend couldn’t sell her pipes; they were metal mushrooms to be worn around the neck but they unscrewed cleverly to become hash pipes. None of the shops wanted them but she sold 300 in a weekend at Glastonbury Festival in the Uk.

You can also just fly pitch with you stuff on a blanket. Beaches, parks and pedestrian streets can be good places if you don’t get moved on too much. Be polite to policemen but don’t worry too much – they have better things to do than arrest your ass.

You might feel a bit foolish selling mass-produced stuff alongside artisans who make everything by hand though. If you plan to just ramble with your goods make sure they’re light enough that you can travel with them.

With all selling remember that you have good days and bad days. Count your money at the end of the day not halfway through and accept that things like the weather and the day of the week make a big difference.

Keep your takings well hidden and keep an eye out for dodgy customers. Be prepared for rain and keep smiling. Customers get scared very easily. If there’s something cool about your stuff make a notice saying ‘All chillums made by enlightened sadhus etc’

Enjoy yourself. Even if you’re not making shit at least you’re your own boss.