"My big sister says I can't come home until everrrything is sold."
A sign like that would compel almost anyone to buy--and that's just what a Mithra named Ixl is banking on. She's posted this plea at her store outside
Impromptu street bazaars often spring up on busy pedestrian avenues. Unlike the sellers at the auction house, those doing business in the bazaar have the opportunity to distinguish themselves by creating memorable signs.
While many signs are simple and straightforward, saying things like "Welcome" and "Now taking orders," others are adorned with pictures.
Proprietors don't always keep their signs updated to reflect their wares, however. I found one store billing itself as "The Fish Emporium," even though its stock consisted entirely of pies. Another shop, claiming a "wide variety of products," had only a single serving of juice left.
As you can see, just browsing bazaar signs can be fun. But what passes through the minds of the proprietors and customers?
I spoke with shop owners first. Many put as much care into their signs as they do their actual products. "I've tried to sum up my wares simply and clearly," was a typical answer.
Any good merchant will tell you that attractive products and good prices are important, and that integrity is absolutely vital. But a good sign can do wonders for sales.
Simple, clear signs like "Fruit Shop," "Junk Shop," or "Cheaper-than-the-AH Mithkabobs" draw in customers looking for the advertised products.
Some shops have signs that are clever as well as clear. "Grandpa's Guns & Ammo" and "From Fresh to Fragile" in Jeuno display some of the proprietors' sense of humor. And who's to forget "The Crys-Taru Shoppe," a Jeunoan store run by a Tarutaru who sells crystals?
While many bazaar customers would like to see more playful signs, the most frequent response was a request for more detailed descriptions of the wares.
Adventurers travel all over the world, finding and selling a wide assortment of food, armor, and other items. Their bazaars frequently offer items you've never seen before. A sign that explains what they are and how to use them would undoubtedly help buyers feel more comfortable about spending their hard earned cash.
Both buyers and sellers have legitimate concerns. The challenge comes in presenting your message inside the sign's limited space.
However, I spoke to one merchant in Windurst with a somewhat different outlook.
I met Himetti while she was fishing in Windurst Woods. She was selling a pair of boots she had acquired on her travels. Her sign consisted of merely five letters: "BOOTS." When I asked how business was going, she just laughed and replied, "They're not selling, are they?"
This relaxed saleswoman was untroubled, though. Her thoughts were not on her sign or her sales, but fixed on the end of her fishing line.
Looking at all the different signs reveals bits of the individuals who created them. This is what makes the signs so interesting.
Even if you never shop at a bazaar, take a look at some of the distinctive signs they use to advertise.
They will give you a peek at something different and more personal than the auction house.