Big Mick and Little Willie
Please don’t misinterpret the title, it does in fact describe two people rather than anything else. I had the fortune of experiencing the life of a vendor at Irish country markets at the weekend and thought it was an apt starting point for my story.
To give you a little background, myself and my boyfriend Dave are heading off on a trip to Canada on the 30th of August, spending two months there with his sister and extended family and then flying to Mexico. Here we will be beginning the real adventure, in pursuit of satisfying the wanderlust that has plagued us both for the last few years. We hope to travel south from our starting point of Puerto Vallarta and with a bit of Irish luck, make it to Argentina a year down the line. Albeit daunting, this trip has been a long time coming.
For the last while, we have both been working, Dave as a civil and structural engineer and myself in a small doctor’s office while finishing off my studies in Occupational Therapy. Having graduated last month, I’m now ready to put this career on hold to experience different cultures and gain some perspective which I hope will stand to me when I try to get my first OT job. Nevertheless, money is still an issue and as such, my story returns to Big Mick and Little Willie.
Having recently moved house with my parents, I found myself decluttering my room on a daily basis, throwing out unwanted items or putting them aside for charity. With our upcoming trip in mind, we decided to look into car boot sales, hoping that our our junk may become someone else’s treasure. Having both spent a lot of time in Wexford, Dave suggested we try the Inch Market. So on Saturday morning we rose at 5am with a car packed full of items from clothes and ornaments to steam cleaners and old blinds, and set off to Inch, giddy with fatigue and a sense of anticipation.
Despite arriving at 6am, there was already a queue of vans and cars, equally crammed with random objects. When the gates opened after 20 minutes, we filed in and after paying a small entry fee we were ushered into our allocated spot for the day. In our large range rover which we borrowed from Dave’s brother, we definitely received a few wary stares from the regular vendors, and I got the feeling that we were fresh blood of sorts. Ignoring this, we set up shop, every few minutes catching each others eyes and laughing at the hilarity of it all. Across the way, in thick country accents, I heard two older men discussing the whereabouts of Big Mick today, and I couldn’t help but smile at the Irish-ness of it all.
We priced everything fairly. How naive of us! We soon realised that our customers were not willing to pay over a fiver for most of our items. When I received the response, “ 18 euro?! What’s a Ted Baker jumper?”, I realised that perhaps we had been overly ambitious. The day went on and indeed, our prices dropped however thankfully, things began to sell. Our fellow vendors warmed to us, and we learned that it was quite a quiet day for selling, likely due to the Bank Holiday weekend. When the customer numbers began to dwindle and we saw people packing up their stalls, panic set in. We had tons of items left, despite having done quite well. After much discussion, I hesitantly agreed to putting a sign up saying, “Clearout, buy all items for 100 euro”. No interest.
Eventually we accepted that the day was over and we began to pack up the car again. While packing, I popped over to the lady opposite who was selling homemade jams and baby clothes, to give her a few items that we were trying to get rid of. Her face brightened and we began to chat which led to me telling our story. Her husband and Dave joined us and after a few minutes of conversation, her husband exclaimed, “ Well why don’t you to the Unyoke tomorrow?”. Completely oblivious to what this meant, we asked him to explain and he proceeded to tell us of a huge weekly market down near Wells. We looked at each other and ignoring our weary feet, concluded that it would all be worth it.
The next morning, we rolled out of bed, again at 5am. Groundhog day. The day unfolded as the day previous had. Prices were marked down and we earned our spot in the eccentric, temporary community. This time, Big Mick was replaced by Little Willie, a small and rotund little traveller boy, who can’t have been more than 6 but walked around the market with the confidence of a teenager. He could talk the talk too, and was as charming and well-versed as all of his elders.
As the day came to a close, we were delighted with our considerably clearer table and stall. Well-accustomed to packing the car now, we filled it up quickly and headed home.
Our total profit earned over the two days amounted to 310 euro. Putting that into perspective, that is almost 1.5 months of accommodation in Mexico. We couldn’t have asked for more, and on top of that feel we have both experienced enough Irish-ness to last us through our year away from home.