Friday, June 14, 2013

First Craft Fair

With help from my mom, my Nana, and with a lot of nightly post-grading craft parties, I accomplished a really big goal: I participated in my first craft fair in early May. It's one I had been attending for years, and for years had been thinking "I could totally do this." I finally decided to stop putting it off and to just go for it! I was rewarded with an amazing sense of accomplishment and some really nice supportive comments from strangers and friends alike. It was a pretty cool two days.

I left right after school on a Thursday, turning in my sub plans for the next day and trying to beat traffic as best as I could. I made the three hour trip to my parents in like 3.75 hours... traffic got the best of me, and I showed up to the convention center to see everything there, ready to go! We got all set up, did one last minute Wal-Mart run, and hit the sack. The next morning we woke up to snow.

Yes, SNOW.

The first weekend in May, in the South, it snowed. I had at least an inch covering my car, maybe more. The mush continued to fall down for most of the morning. It was cold, yucky, grey weather, and that kept a lot of people at home. Friday's attendants were mostly retirees, and other sorts of people that don't have to work during the week. We didn't make our first sale until after lunch, and we were so pumped when it finally happened! One of my Nana's dolls sold, then someone bought one of my little pincushions. I think that's pretty much all we did on the first day. Kind of a bummer.

Pictured: some of my Nana's porcelain dolls. She pours the porcelain, fires it, paints them, assembles them, and makes the clothing. She's pretty neat.

We told ourselves Saturday will be much better. More people, better weather, lots of sales! There were more people, and the weather was better, but the showing was still not normal for this craft fair. People that had been doing that particular sale for 25 years said it was the worst turn out they had seen. I blame the unseasonable and unwelcome SNOW.
Pillows I no longer own... because I sold them!

I sold about 60 bucks worth of merchandise at the end of it all. Of course, it didn't cover my expenses for the booth, the gas, the items I had made... but all that additional money I shelled out was primarily for the experience and for the education that came with it. I learned a LOT! Here's some of my takeaways from the trip:

1. Be friendly! Not just with your customers, but with other vendors. With as much time as we had on our hands, I got to walk around and chat with people at other booths, and do a little shopping myself... and they stopped by my booth and did the same. I also learned about several more craft fairs around the area that would be good to check out. The best resources are all around you!

2. Have a system! For wrapping fragile things, figuring change, all of that good stuff. We needed a dedicated "register" place--I think the best booths have those--but we had gotten the smallest size and didn't really have a much better place than my lap. It was interesting but we chatted up our customers and I don't think it's too big of a deal, just a little unprofessional.

3. Be patient! With the people that walk around your booth, talk about how they're going to make all your stuff, and walk away without acknowledging your presence or answering your "hello." I learned this from sorority PR: not everyone will want your product, but maybe your product is not for them. Keep smiling.

Pictured: My mom and her paper art!
4. Have a buddy! I can't tell how much it helped me that my mom was there with me. We gave each other breaks, got each other food, and allowed each of us some walking around/networking time. It was a lot of fun to have someone to chat with in the downtime too, and a real relief that I didn't have to handle everything myself. Thanks, Mom!

5. Have fun! We had a blast exchanging jokes and stories with the booths next to us, and had several dedicated visitors. Shout out to former students that stopped by and admired our booth! Even though we walked away with more merchandise than money, it was still a wonderful experience, and I'm very, very glad to say I did it.

Afterwards, the family all got together and celebrated my birthday, which was the following week. My parents ordered the cake correctly, but the bakery people spelled my last name wrong! Not even half of this cake was eaten... which means I presented it to my students on Monday who devoured it gratefully. One of the secret benefits to teaching: food disposal! 

A pretty solid end to the weekend, if I do say so myself!

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