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We have just concluded a very successful first pop-up store in Klang Valley for Petite Troopers! Technically, it was both Petite Troopers and Little Baby Grains but the focus was very much on Petite Troopers, since Petite Troopers has always been an online affair.
I’d set some targets for our event, and to my pleasant surprise, we exceeded them! All in all, it was definitely a very successful event and it also gave us a good indicator of the response to our handmade items.
That pretty much sums up the business side of the event, but I also learnt so much on a personal level.
I’d always been pampered in the sense that my previous jobs were in nice offices, which were fully air-conditioned with little comforts like coffee machines, free snacks, and such. It was certainly a far cry from our pop-up store was in an outdoor area, and while we were lucky enough that it didn’t rain, it certainly was very hot and humid.
I didn’t leave my booth at all from 10am to 10pm, except to go to the washroom. I had all my meals in my booth and they were often interrupted, because mealtimes were usually peak hours for the booth. My feet were killing me by the end of the first day and I was so tired that I’d rather sleep than eat.
The other vendors were no different. In fact, for many of them, this was their livelihood. I struck up a friendship with the vendor next to our booth, and it was very humbling to learn that the wife held a full-time job from Mondays to Fridays and on weekends, she’d be at the booth from 10am to 10pm.
There was also a college-goer who was hired to man the booth behind mine. He is only 19 but he was hardworking enough to take this opportunity to earn a few hundred over the weekend.
I truly appreciated this privilege of staying grounded and the fact that money doesn’t come easy.
Manning a store is really interesting. I got to meet all kinds of customers from different walks of life. In a span of just 3 short days, I met such a huge variety of people. Some were really pleasant, friendly and understanding. Others, not so.
It was a good training ground for me, trying my best to stay courteous, speaking with a smile on my face and overall, just serving to meet the customers’ needs. All this, even when some customers were rather “liberal” with their comments, and when I was so tired that I really didn’t want to stand up anymore, and when I was so hot and sticky that all I really wanted was a shower.
My parents worked really hard because they didn’t want their children to go through these kinds of hardships in life. Which parent doesn’t want that? We all try our best to give our children a better life than the ones we have, and ironically enough, I ended up doing what my parents probably never wanted me to do.
Yet, I have to say that it is precisely these kinds of experiences which teach so much about life! I don’t think that I’d have been able to fully comprehend what it’s like to be “on the ground” had I not spent 3 full days at the pop up store myself, being involved in every aspect from setting up, to selling, to accounting.
Just last week, I met a barista who was a management trainee at The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, and while I’d always known that it was important for someone groomed for management to learn the ropes on the ground, I cannot say that I truly grasped the importance of this practice until I’d been on the ground myself!
All I can say is that after just 3 short days, I feel even more grateful for every blessing in my life and that being humble is really the best character one could have.