Did you wonder where I went? Sure you did! Even if you didn’t, I’m gonna tell you.
But wait, before you start to get happy for me because you think we had fun, well, think again. We were at market. And market, my dear bloggy friends, is WORK.
My parents own a wonderful little store in a little Nebraska town. Four or five times each year, my parents travel to various states to go to market to look for new merchandise for the store. They’ve been all over–Denver, Minneapolis, Columbus, Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas, Kansas City.
A few years back, my mom asked me to go with her to market. My mom has an amazing eye and a real knack for choosing things that sell very well. This is a big deal, because buying merchandise for a gift shop is part voodoo rain dance and part magic genie guessing. There’s no way to tell what will do well.
It’s absolutely impossible to try to make these kinds of decisions by yourself. So I went with her. And I thought it would be fun. But I was so, so wrong.
Sure, it’s fun to spend time with my awesome mom. But market is grueling. Don’t believe me? Here’s our typical day:
630am: Rise and shine! Get pretty and put on your comfy shoes and extra deodorant.
730am: Free breakfast at the hotel (score!).
8am: Catch the shuttle to market.
830am-6pm: Walk, walk, walk. Collect approximately 60 pounds of catalogs. Forget to eat. Forget to drink water. Forget what day it is.
6pm: Catch the shuttle to the hotel.
630pm: Eat dinner and drink the pain away.
8-10pm: Go through piles of catalogs to create a plan of attack for tomorrow. Take the maximum recommended dose of ibuprofen.
10pm (honestly, more like 930!): Collapse into bed and try to ignore your aching feet/back/knees/head. Dream of prepacks and assortments and free freight.
Rinse and repeat.
By day three, you start to get loopy. The bags under your eyes get darker and the number of cups of morning coffee you need to feel human increases. You lose your way and end up wandering aimlessly on a floor filled with lighting fixtures. I can just hear you smugly saying to yourself, well, I would never end up staring blankly at chandeliers, thankyouverymuch. Wanna bet? Here’s the map of the Dallas market:
Over the course of four days, we were on nearly every floor in all four buildings. We were in the temporary showrooms and permanent showrooms. We spent a day and a half at cash and carry, buying jewelry and watches and scarves and then lugging them around in suitcases that weighed as much as we did. We walked back and forth, up and down, through miles of winding showrooms.
It was brutal. It always is. But no one should ever have to do it alone, so I go. And we get through it. Together, we doggedly go back, day after day after day, in search of something new and different.
This was my first time at the Dallas market. The past few years, I’ve met up with my mom in Chicago for market, and I love Chicago market. The market is downtown and our hotel is just a few blocks away. Some mornings, it’s cool and we eat breakfast at Einstein Brothers Bagels and then walk to market, admiring the funky shops and tiny bars along the three-block stretch. And after a long, exhausting day at market, we sit down to an amazing meal at a fun restaurant and manage to forget about the wearying hours pounding the pavement. There’s even a Garrett’s popcorn shop in the market food court!
But Dallas, well, Dallas is different. The market is nowhere near downtown, and from what I hear about downtown Dallas, that’s okay. The area around market is nothing but hotels. No fun restaurants, no shopping, no froyo joints. Just hotels. And gas stations. It’s pretty bleak. And there’s nothing to distract you from the exhaustion.
The vibe of the Dallas market is also very different. Chicago seemed far more midwestern, with some people from the East Coast. But it seemed that 90% of the name badges I read this weekend listed “TX” as their location. There were some people from Arkansas, Oklahoma and Alabama there. I even saw one couple from Georgia. But I did not see a single badge bearing a state farther north than Nebraska. We were it.
After four full days in Texas, I learned a few things about the lone star state. Allow me to share.
1. There’s no such thing as too much bling.
If you stand still for more than 15 minutes, someone walks by and tries to bedazzle you. True statement. Texans love their bling. We ate some delicious nachos at a table next to a lovely woman wearing a dress covered in rhinestones. Her accessories included a sparkly belt, three large necklaces of varying lengths, large dangly diamond earrings, three chunky cocktail rings and an armful of glittery bracelets. I had to shield my eyes.
Everywhere I looked, I saw sparkle. Bags, belts, sunglasses, jewelry, even flip flops. Blingy flip flops are all the rage in Texas. I swear every woman at market had on a pair, so my mom and I bought ourselves a pair, just for the sake of fitting in.
2. Cowboy boots go with everything.
They were half price and I would have bought them on the spot if my stupid messed-up feet hadn’t interfered. I saw women of all ages and shapes rocking cowboy boots with jeans, shorts, skirts, dresses, leggings, whatever. On day 1, they seemed funny to me. By day 3, I was lusting for a pair. Market messes with your head.
The heat in Texas was oppressive. It hits you in the face and you can’t breathe. Each morning, we left our hotels bright-eyed and looking cute. And each evening, we returned, with raccoon mascara eyes and foreheads glistening with sweat. I don’t understand how people live there. I could not. I would melt into a steamy puddle within 15 minutes of leaving the house.
I asked the guy helping direct people to shuttles at market how he handled the heat and he just shrugged his shoulders and said, “Do I like being covered in a dripping layer of sweat all day? Not really. But what can you do?”
Um, MOVE NORTH. That’s what you can do. And bring some cowboy boots with you when you come.
No matter where we were, people were goofy. I found the people of Dallas to have a quirky sense of humor. When I asked the woman at market how to get to the temporary showrooms, she giggled and shot back “Walk.” And then she grinned and giggled again. When the air conditioning wasn’t working very well one morning, the woman manning a booth of adorable headbands asked what the heck was up with the ac. I said it didn’t seem to be working very well. Her response? “Frito pie! It is hot in here!!” I am so making that one mine.
And I admit that a Texas drawl is easy on the ears. There’s something dang charming about hearing “how y’all doin this mornin?”, even though it’s the 50th time someone’s asked you.
It was hot and exhausting and I’m not even sure we found anything super fantastic. My knee is swollen and my feet are still throbbing and I have a stuffed-full suitcase upstairs and an inbox full of unread messages. I’m beat.
I hope she asks me to go again next year.