Students wandered through the booths lining Bayramian Lawn, checking out what the vendors had to offer for the first Matador Mall of the new semester. Stuart Sidwell minded his booth, where he has been selling posters since 1994.
Sidwell fought in Vietnam, worked in the auto collision and jewelry business before selling posters in California, Oregon, Washington and Arizona colleges to make a living.
“There are ups and downs to the whole business,” Sidwell said.
He was in Vietnam during the Tet Offensive in 1967. He was drafted into the U.S. Army, but chose to be a Marine.
“I (didn’t) want to have them tell me that I have to go. I want(ed) to make that decision myself,” Sidwell said. “I always liked the Marines because they were part of the Navy and they were the first to go in. I was all gung ho.”
Sidwell’s views on the war changed after his comrades kept dying and his best friend was killed.
“When we were there we were losing about 500 guys a month, I always asked myself ‘why we were here?’ It was basically a civil war and we shouldn’t have been involved,” Sidwell said.
After Sidwell’s departure from the Marines in August 1968, he began a career as an auto collision insurance appraiser that lasted 25 years.
He moved on to sell jewelry for six years.
“Back then I was selling rings for under ten dollars, it would take a girl 15 to 25 minutes to make a seven dollar decision. I had to watch that,” Sidwell said. “I mean nothing against [women] but women just like to shop. With posters it goes a little faster.”
After seeing a man selling posters next to his jewelry stand, he decided to change his business product.
“Unfortunately, jewelry gets a lot of theft. It’s very difficult to have to watch everybody all the time,” Sidwell said. “With the posters I feel much more relaxed and it attracts both males and females. It’s a more enjoyable business dealing with the pictures.”
Some CSUN students said Sidwell’s booth is interesting.
“The posters [attracted me to come by] because I like to decorate my room. Every couple of months I like to switch out the posters,” said Eddie Mendoze, a freshman at CSUN.
Sidwell sells posters seasonally. The posters include a variety of movies, music, celebrities and art. During the fall, he also sells comic books, vinyl, records and CDs.
When his poster shop, Accent Design, isn’t selling, he moves on to self-employed construction work.
“I know that it is going to be difficult [to sell posters] especially if you are traveling. I’m sure stores are going to be more expensive,” said Michael Davis, CSUN student.
Sidwell describes an experience from his past poster shop in Santa Barbara. After Sidwell finished organizing his poster shop, a young customer pulled out about 100 posters and destroyed Sidwell’s categorized display. Sidwell asked the customer if he was planning on buying the posters he was pulling out. Although the customer said he wanted to purchase them, Sidwell doubted he was going to buy $900 worth of posters. The customer returned in the afternoon and bought over $500 worth of posters.
Although Sidwell’s poster stand was full of student customers yesterday, he claims to be having a low moment in his business.
“Probably one of the things that affect me most, which is one thing that is happening this week, campuses keep expanding…traffic flow is somewhere else,” Sidwell said. “In order for any business to be accessible it’s all about location. You have to be in a high traffic location.”
CSUN students will be able to catch up on some retail therapy everyday this week from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Matador Mall.
A variety of vendors set up theirs booths along the Bayramian Hall Courtyard Monday morning to prepare for the day of selling an assortment of items, and trinkets including key chains, posters, shoes, and clothes.
“Matador mall is really to give our students the experience of outside vendors on campus,” said Audrey Martinez, events supervisor. “It gives our outdoor community to come to campus and sell their items.”
Seemingly, one of the more popular booths that students gravitate towards is Sidwells “Accent Design” which sells a variety of movie and music posters.
“I pride myself in bringing a wide variety of inventory. The kids can look at hundreds of posters in a short amount of time before they have to get to the next class.”
Well aware of college student’s budget, Sidwell sells the posters at an affordable price, $10-$15, and at different sizes to account for small spaces such as dorm rooms.
Kate Rosen, 20, an art major, junior, came to check out the booth to find the famous sailor and nurse kissing poster and found exactly what she was looking for within five minutes.
“I was so happy to find it because I’ve been looking for it for ages,” Rosen said. “I’m going to put in my room probably above my bed.”
There were plenty of jewelry and accessory booths to be seen at the vendor fair, attracting handful of students.
Aneela Manori, independent owner of her “London Manori” booth has been selling her “edgy and sophisticated” custom made jewelry for three years at CSUN.
Setting her unique items apart from other jewelry, “London Manori” custom makes their pieces with 14kt gold, and sterling silver pieces that range from $10 to $100.
“I love jewelry and I needed earrings,” Sara Sham, 21, criminology, junior, said. “I only needed one set of earrings, but I bought two pairs.”
CSUN students can visit the vendor fair until Thursday, Sept 26, to browse through the booths, or to kill time in-between classes.
“I was just passing by because I have work next, so I just came to get my mind off a bit,” Alexis Gonzales, 19, undecided, sophomore, said. “This is my first time and I like because it’s so convenient and economical for us as college students.”
Vendors who are interested to sell their products on campus can sign up at usu.csun.edu/matadormall and reserve a spot
The next Matador Mall vendor fair is set to take place November 18-21, 2013.