Recovering from Sjöbo Fair

Friday 18 July 2014

Since I was a little child, I have been an annual visitor at the fair in either Kivik or Sjöbo. Since we got very disappointed years ago, over how Kivik had gone to the pits, becoming just a place where they sell Asian articles of garbage, we have imageinstead headed to Sjöbo. But since Sjöbo is smaller with more narrow rows, we have had to change our yearly visits drastically. No small children get to go. Which means, I go one day, with one or two daughters, or like most years, I go alone. And then the second day of the fair, my husband goes with D. and two daughters. They prefer to go with Daddy, since Daddy will buy them all sorts of silly things, if they beg hard enough. And of course Daddy will buy them donuts, Berliners,…

I am persona non grata, since I hold my fist tight around the purse strings and will not buy things which have no value or which I see will last too short of a time, to be worth the purchase price. True, Sjöbo has more ordinary things and not just the Asian fluff. Some sellers have actually got over a lot of Converse shoes costing just a 100:-/8.55 Pounds/€10.79/$14.59.  But if many stalls sell the same thing, saying it is the genuine thing, the original, I am afraid that it is copies they are selling and I have had really bad experiences with copies. Perhaps I am becoming more and more of a snob, but you really do not get more than you pay for.

Going out to Sjöbo this year, was a lonely affair for  me, since E. has not spoken to me for almost four weeks now. Reason? I told her that you can’t stand with one foot in the world and one in our religion. That you can’t say that only the things you like, are true and the uncomfortable parts, not being so, because they are not fun to keep. There is no grey zone in our religion, either you believe or you do not. We don’t get to pick and choose which laws we want to follow, just like it is in the world. You can’t choose which laws in your country, that you want to follow, and then break the rest, not expecting any consequences. She did not like what she heard. Or that I had the gall to discuss it with her. So she ignores me now, doesn’t say a word to me, and sits in her room upstairs watching TV on her school’s computer or chats with friends on Facebook, all day. She only comes down for dinner and helps out with absolutely nothing. She is mean and screams at all her siblings, including “Gubby”, who has never done a thing to hurt her or her things. While the others accept that she is the way she is, he doesn’t understand this diva behaviour of hers, so he gets really SAD. I’ve had to tell him to stay away from her.

But, I headed to Sjöbo and actually thought it was nice to not have her come along. Last year she conned me in to buying her pumps, earrings, 2 T-shirts, a bra (which the lady ended up giving us for free because E. said she did not like them because they would show her teets) and at least 6 pair of knickers. This year, I did not have to make any such purchases. I left it all for T. to handle today instead. He has three nagging kids with him! Ha! All the same, I have a difficult time relaxing and being selfish. Wherever I go, I end up looking for things for the children. I tried to ignore things that would have been fun for D., E., and “Cookie”, deciding in my mind that “they will see it tomorrow and can make a decision then”. Instead I concentrated on the three who would not get to go at all. For those of you, who contemplated going there this year, and did not: My first shock came as I arrived. The fair had shrunk. It used to cover up all grass available, but now a big part of the grass had been taken over as parking for maybe the owners of all the rides and carousels? Or the ones standing in the stalls, could park there? Whichever, I felt somewhat cheated, since I had just paid 40:-/ 3.42 Pounds/ € 4.32/$ 5.84 in parking, up by the windmill. My ordinary parking place, on the lawn outside a school, was not available this year, so maybe they did not expect as many visitors this year? (But I was disappointed, in this as well, since it forced me to stay a long time, in order to be able to get out. My car being so huge and not having any room to manoeuvre in a created parking lot, on a sloping grass knoll. )Please don’t say that fairs are dying out? It is a highlight of July, even if a lot of the merchandise is “crap”. Third disappointment was the fact that all the sellers were late. I always see to that I am there at 11:00 to make sure I get good parking, close, and some things sell quickly. But half of the stalls were not even up by then and it took hours for them to unpack. They seemed tired from Kivik and it was not fun to kill time at the supermarket and in small shops on the walking street.

What is “crap”? Well, all the Philippine stalls with mobile phone shells and wallets. I doubt the covers last more than a week, and they are not really value for the money. I did buy something like it, from an Amazon seller actually, saying that it was real leather and everything. By the end of the month, the entire plastic frame that the iPhone goes in to, had crumbled in to small pieces in my handbag. And the real leather was indeed real plastic. When I wrote this in my  review, Amazon removed the review! I was not allowed to be honest! So I am very weary now when I purchase a mobile phone wallet. Another thing to walk past are all the stalls with clothing, owned by an array of foreign sellers. All the clothes are weird and most of them one size fits all. Well, we are not all of the same size so… And why would I buy a shirt for 200:-/ 17.10 Pounds/ € 21.58/$29.18 at a fair, when I can get something much more stylish and pretty, at a local shop in the mall? If it breaks, I can go back with it, which I can not with a fair item. Because these fair stalls, do not have shops, they are just, I don’t know, travellers?

Then we come down to the level of “semi-crap”. The places that sell things which we can find out in the shops, but which are cheaper at the fair and claimed to still be the original thing. A pair of Converse for 100:-, a pair of Crocs or what in Sweden is called “Foppa” clogs after the ice hockey player Peter Forsberg. (Don’t know what he has to do with them, unless he introduced them to Sweden?) These “Foppa clogs” in plastic, could be had from anywhere between 60-100:-/ 5.13 – 8.55 Pounds/ € 6.47 – 10.79/ $8.75 – 14.59 , yesterday, and since “Kitty’s” are broken, I bought him a pair for 60:-. What is the use of getting the original, when they all last equally long? Kids grow out of them and don’t usually wear them out. His could have been continued to be worn, but the strap broke, which one doesn’t really need. Other semi-crap things are the wonder bras, “as seen on TV” and they all claim to sell the original, yet, I noticed none of them are of the same brand. Last year, E. and I went home with one each, but none of us were impressed. They rolled up under the breasts! Everyone who has worn stockings or a shaper girdle, to get that perfect figure, knows that they go a little bit over the waist and when you sit down and then stand up, they have both rolled down to below your waist. Like the commercial, with the woman who tries to adjust her sanitary napkin between her legs, in public, wiggling around,  you stand up and try to discretely adjust or unroll your stockings and the girdle so they both sit where they should sit. Don’t get a nice figure with a roll around your waist do you? Well, with this “wonder bra which you can sleep in, which you can’t feel when you are wearing it, that lifts your breasts without discomfort of a wire”, we were forced to stand and unroll it from under our breasts as well, which can’t be done discretely! In E.’s case, she needed it for support of her big bosom and I who have an almost non-existent bosom, wanted what little I have, to be lifted up without a wire. Hm! No, what one should really go for, are shops selling off surplus things or trying to show that they exist on the market, by having fair bargains.

Before I get to this part, I must mention, some things, that some of us fall for, because we have small children, who we know will appreciate things, not common on the Swedish market. I am not going to call them crap, because theseimage are items that actually stand the test of time, but at the same time, some people might turn their noses at the things. The first thing, are T-shirts from Asia, made out of some sort of polyester. I love them for three reasons: 1) I don’t have to iron them. You just wash them in 40 degrees, hang them up and they are dry in no time. 2) They come in bright colours that make children look happy and healthy and children are drawn to these like flies. 3) They come with illustrations that children love! Every year I have carried these home for the three youngest, with Spiderman, Bob Squarepants and Lightning McQueen. And this year, I even found one with “Gubby’s” beloved “Toystory”. Disney’s “Cars” might be old by now, but children still love the films and they want them on shirts! The chain stores fail to see this in many cases, or they put a print on a regular cotton T-shirt and then it comes off in a couple of washes. These fair T-shirts are indestructible, I pass them on from son to son. The print is built-in to the T-shirt and covers all of it, not just a little piece in the front!

imageThe second funny child item, is the one that is greets you in every Peruvian stall. Actually the very first real fair stall that greets you, is one of them. They have these knitted beanies/caps/woolies. In years past, it has mainly been animal ones but then when the Smurf film came out, suddenly all Peruvian stalls, had smurf beanies. The year “Cookie” and I went there together, we laughed at these grown men who were intoxicated and walked around with a beer can in one hand and a smurf beanie on their heads. Thoughts next morning? No, idea but I can see them asking their mates “why did you not stop me?”. This year’s beanie, brought a smile to my face again, since it was the minions from “Despicable me”. We LOVE the minions and have decided they make the entire two films! I wanted to get one for “Gubby”, who is the only one who keeps track of his clothes. No point in wasting money on the other two, who just lose all mittens and beanies. But by the time, I was ready to purchase a beanie, my feet were so sore, I could no longer enjoy the fair. I headed for the car in pain, and realized on my way home, that I had forgot to buy, what I had intended to buy. So, a list was sent with T. this morning, with among other things to buy, a minion beanie. (The one “Gubby” chose, from the selection his daddy sent via e-mail, so he could choose from the picture, was the one on the lower right. He is such a smart little boy though, when daddy came home with it, and he put it on to see what it looked like, on him , he said to me “it’s for when it is snow outside, not now!”. He is absolutely right, which was one of the reasons why I did not buy it early on yesterday. It was sooooo hot, and I felt dizzy part of the day since there was no way for me to keep hydrated. The last thing I wanted to do, was to put on a beanie for size! Today, “Cookie” had to do the honour, since they have the same size of head, sort of.)

But I promised to talk about the quality stalls, which are shops coming to Sjöbo, for two days, from all over the country, to sell you things which you can never get otherwise. Not even knowing they exist in some cases. Like the different paper stalls, who stand and sell thick rolls of Birthday- and Christmas paper, as well as ribbons for them and cards. Let’s say, in these rolls, with much more fun motifs than the ones you find at the supermarket, you get at least four times as much paper, than in the supermarket ones, and at a fraction of the price. They are heavy to carry around, so I finally walked back to the car when my elbows started aching, but this is definitely the place to get paper at, every summer, for the seasons to come.

Other purchases I made, was a British blanket, of the smoothest, softest,image warmest fabric I have ever felt. I am not going to say that I look forward to the winter, but when winter comes against my will, I am prepared for it! I have the best blanket to snuggle under with my Reynaud’s Syndrome cold feet, hands and body. Having the Union Jack on one side, was a definite bonus for an Anglophile like myself! 🙂 The stall had many other nice and quirky items for sale, but I had decided to spend as little as possible this day, so I had to resist the temptation. My husband has bought the most ugly kitchen wall clock, from a shop known for ugly items at a cheap price. I detest it! Here in this stall, I saw some funny kitchen clocks looking like old-fashioned coca cola bottle caps, with Roman numerals, in a painted worn-look. Colours were green, barn red or teal. I stood for the longest time, trying to decide whether to get one of them. They were made out of metal and heavy. I was already fighting the rolls of gift wrapping paper. So I decided to leave it to my husband, for today. And of course, he did not buy one for me. So I will have to live with the disgusting looking black plastic clock on the wall. I doubt he even looked at the clocks, even though I had put it on his to-do list. But D. and E. have a propensity of talking his ears off and let’s face it, he does not know how to multi-task!

Another purchase, was actually a mobile phone wallet, but from a reputable place. It’s a bunch of young men who have started the company, they sell over the net, and the frame where your iPhone goes, is in a rubbery material which is not going to crumble. I stood there forever looking at them, before I made the purchase, because the news channel came and wanted to film, the only young man standing there around noon. He had so many colours to choose from, that it was difficult to decide. I finally settled on a mint green wallet with black frame and closure. He was sweet and threw in a mint green “pen”. If I find the web address, I’ll put it in, before I publish. His mobile wallets did not cost much more than the garbage Philippine ones, but of course lacked images and messages, that teenagers might prefer.

The toughest part for me, going to this fair, are all the stalls selling baby items and adorable baby clothing. To not be in that market anymore, hurts. It really hurts! Some clothes looked big enough for “Gubby” but then I saw the labels saying, they were only for a 3-4-year-old and it broke my heart. For people who choose that they have had enough children, it is probably just alright to see all these stalls. But for someone who did not feel done with that part of my life, who has tried and tried to rectify fate, well, it made me immensely depressed. I did walk in to one of the stalls though, with clothes called “Snoozy”, which was set up as a tent, because it looked like perhaps some things were bigger. And lo and behold, I found this adorable soft T-shirt hoodie jacket, with little owls all over it.image In “Gubby’s” size. One woman was circling around me the entire time, giving me dirty looks and for the life of me, I could not understand why. I stood with the jacket in my hand, and tried to see if there was not a single cute T-shirt in his size. The only thing I could see, was a long-sleeved one with moose all over it. I am sure he would have loved it, but the price tag on the jacket said 249:- ( 21.28 Pounds / € 26.87 / $ 36.34) and I felt it had to be one or the other. A T-shirt that he can wear one, maximum two days and then throw in the dirty clothes. Or a jacket, which he can wear for weeks without dirtying it down, unless they bring him out in the pre-school garden. That is when I discovered why the older woman was looking angrily at me. The other jackets, did not have owls on them, like I had thought. It was monkeys! I was holding the ONLY owl jacket! When I snubbed her and walked to pay for it, instead of hanging it back so she could buy it for a grandchild, I wouldn’t believe my ears when they told me it cost only 100:- (see your own currency above). I still decided to not get the moose T-shirt. Don’t know why, because now I regret it and he would have loved it. On the positive side, the shop is supposed to exist in Malmö. No webshop, but a physical one. Maybe in the future, I can head there and see if there are more things his size than what was available at the fair?

One second-hand bookshop from Österlen somewhere, had a large book stall, but it seemed like what they sold most of, were chilled drinks. I stood there for a long time, looking at all the world war two books, they had brought. I know I should not have, but there was one book which was hard to resist. It might be a highlyimage speculative book, a book full of non-sense, since I have never heard of it before, and usually I have heard of world war two books, one way or another. But, I will give it a go, because it does sound like it has an interesting angle on Hitler and his bizarre personality. (“Hitler’s Secret: The double life of a dictator”) The seller was very happy that finally a customer actually bought one of his books and not just the drinks that he had stocked up on. He declared that he had lots and lots of books out in… But I missed the name. A new law has come about, which force all fair sellers to give a receipt for purchases. It has never been like that before. But, if I can find my receipt from that shop, in one of the plastic bags I brought home, then I should find out the name of the shop and the location. It could be a fun place to go look at, if one is in the vicinity of it. Can’t resist books!

The very first item I bought, was actually none of the above, but was found in a stall which keeps on coming back every year. Most of their items are sewing things, but now and then, they keep a wicker basket with yarn by the till. And I imagecould not resist these big yarn balls, priced at half their value, since I guess they had already tried to sell them out at Kivik’s fair, at the beginning of the week. I bought the only two blue ones left and the pink. One ball is supposed to be enough for a head band and a scarf. None of us wear headbands so why not just make the scarf wider? My first thought was to make scarves for the girls, for Christmas. But at a sleep over, at a class mate’s house, E. sat and knitted a sleeve, out of yarn her class mate handed her, just for the fun of it. So she CAN knit. Last year, she had me buy a purple yarn, at this exact stall, and had ME knit the cap. This year, she can actually knit the scarf herself!!!! So, I will make a scarf for “Cookie” and one for myself. The yarn seems funny to knit with and I am sure the different colouring, will make a fun effect.

My final purchase that I want to bring up in this post, is one which was not made in a fair stall at all. As you can imagine, the shops in the town of Sjöbo, take advantage of the two-day influx of possible customers! They put things on sale or have special fair prices on some things, and of course, people will go in to the shops as well, if they are situated on one of the streets, leading from the parking areas, created just for the fair. One shop that has been on one of these streets in the past, has been the jewelry shop which also sells watches. They usually bring sale watches out on the pavement, to have their own little stall there, and also some cheap earrings or rings, they want to get rid of, from their stock. We have always walked by that shop since the parking facility used by us in the past, has always forced us to walk on this street. But, this year, two parking places close by that street, had not been opened for visitors, so noone walked by the little watch and jewelry shop. When I had dropped off, my gift wrapping paper rolls, I walked by the street, saw how empty it looked, and decided to just go down to the shop to have a peek. Usually two ladies work in the shop and they are funny. Two years ago, E. and I was in there and bought a ring for E. on sale, from the Danish Spinning company. The ladies were really sad over not having sold the rings and over how conservative and narrow-minded people are in Sjöbo. Unfortunately a popular town for neo-nazis and xenophobic people. Those parties were out full force at the fair, handing out their propaganda. Targeting young men of course, of D.’s age. But of course they did not hassle D. and co. today, since they want a foreigner free-Sweden, and there my entire family was, speaking English! Anyway, the ladies at the shop, told us how people in Sjöbo doesn’t want modern, “different”-looking, jewelry, so Spinning’s innovative style did not sell at all.

This year, the ladies were not there but there was a funny older lady standing outside the shop calling out to the few people walking by, “Don’t you want to go home with a new watch today?”. I stood and chatted a little with her, over how sad it was, with the parking changing so much, and not all shops getting an advantage from the fair, this year. While talking to her, I glanced at the stand of watches and one stood out, among the rest. Because it was tiny, square, different looking from all the rest. In other words, the sort of watch I am always drawn to. I took a stroll in the shop next, because it was so hot and I wanted a little air conditioning, before I headed back to the fair. Leaving, not having looked at anything in particular, because it was too hot in the shop as well, air conditioning not functioning I suppose or being off. I halted by the watches again. Took out the watch and held it on my arm. “Oh, that is a really expensive imageSTORM watch!” the lady said to me, “It has cost 935:- /80 Pounds/ € 101.03 / $136.59”. Thanks, I KNOW how much STORM watches cost, but I thought that it was just lower quality watches being sold out there. Who in their right mind brings out a STORM watch on the side-walk? I had to get my reading glasses out now, to see if she was really right about the brand of the watch. Yes, sure enough. They were selling an 80 pound STORM watch for 189:-/16.16 Pounds/ €16.07/ $ 27.57 ! Let’s say, I did not have to think any further. I was too hot for comfort, but headed in to the shop, to pay for the watch. My wrist was too swollen to try it out for size, so I had to bring it home, and let my body go back to its regular shape and size, before I could see that it was too big for me, and T. had to take it to be shortened today. But what a bargain to make! Thanks to the Sjöbo habitants being “backwards”! This sort of fair purchase, is why I go year after year. When you find that little extra, when you do that wonderful bargain, on an item which you could only have drooled at, at another time and place, then it all feels worth it! Going through row after row, of awful stalls with Asian plastic and T-shirts with ghastly messages, and then finding a little gem… That is what going to a fair is all about. That and the special fair candy and “gräddbullar”!

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