The Media Market #1Temitope Oyetunji
Years ago, I opened a store in a popular market, even though I had a day job that paid well and catered for my needs.
At first, opening the shop had nothing to do with having anything to sell, I was just following the trend. But as time went on, a door opened; I started getting supply of a rare product which I began to display in my store.
Customers started showing interest, though not as much as I would have loved, considering the time and effort it took to process and package the product.
The low patronage had to do with the fact that the product was unpopular, many people thought it was fake and not very useful. But I believed in the product, so I adamantly continued to sell.
After a while, due to some personal issues, I discovered the market environment was beginning to have a negative effect on me, so I decided to close down the store; I wasn’t getting much returns anyway.
I came close to demolishing the shop because I didn’t want to keep it as a reminder of my failed business, but the market owners wouldn’t let me, so I left it and went my way.
Years passed, my personal issues were still unresolved but now I needed the extra income a side hustle could provide, so I started procuring the same product from my supplier.
Since shame would not let me go back to my old shop, I re-opened another store in a different market. This particular store had been an annex to my old shop, but now it was going to be my main outlet, or so I thought.
Word had it, this new market had overtaken the old one trend-wise, and that the old market had all but closed down, so it seemed a wise decision to again follow the trend.
I started displaying my old product in the new shop but I had no patronage at all; sometimes days passed without a single customer.
I was discouraged, I stopped going to the market every day. Sometimes for weeks I wouldn’t go, then I’d get word from my supplier asking why I wasn’t coming back for more supply, and I’d go again.
This continued for months. At some point I started going to the market regularly but not to sell, I would buy a few things, then sit in my shop and watch other people buy and sell, till it was time to go home.
As part of efforts to turn my situation around, I reached out to one of my mentors in the new market who was doing well, maybe she could show me the ropes, tell me what I was doing wrong and what I should change, but she didn’t so much as give me audience.
Though I was disappointed, I refused to be bitter. Instead, the pain of that rejection pushed me to renovate my store. I re-branded and started selling a different product offered by the same supplier – I was certain the problem was my product, it never sold well at the old market anyway.
However, the renovation alone was not sufficient to attract customers, so I started rigorous advertising; distributed fliers, told friends and family about my new product and where they could find me in the market, still no customers.
I went as far as telling a group of potential customers that I was once a successful retailer at the old market, that the only reason I left was that I wanted a fresh start, still only a few stopped by.
Then one day, I received a large consignment of the new product from my supplier. When I saw the goods, I immediately thought of my old shop because I had a space constraint in the new one, and there was no way I would be able to display that quantity of goods given the limited space.
Besides, I had since swallowed the pride and shame that drove me from the old market anyway, so I asked myself why not? That was how I went back to the old market, renovated my old shop and started displaying my new product.
Come and see patronage from the first day! I was blown away. I counted up to 20 customers who stopped to pick up my goods, not counting the many who just came in and looked around.
Alas, the information I got about this market closing down was wrong, it was booming as ever.
Now, I still run both shops, but patronage is more in the store I had once written off and neglected. The store I rejected has become my main outlet because I made necessary changes.
There are many morals in this story but let me expatiate one.
There are two ways to achieve your goals.
Try random ideas till you find the one that works, or stay with the winning idea until it works. The problem with the supposed winning idea however, is that it may all be in your head – its viability.
So, if for example you find that you are not selling, try changing your products.
If you’ve changed your products and you’re still not selling, change your market.
If you’ve changed the products and the market and you’re still not selling, try another approach maybe.
Just don’t stick with the same product, same market, same approach and hope for a miracle just because you believe it’s your winning formula.
PS: The story of course is an allegory; seeing I’ve never opened a physical store in my life. I have a sequel coming up that will provide interpretation. But even without interpretation, i think the story itself passes across a message.
Read sequel here