Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Confessions of a First Time Craft Show Vendor

May was a blur.  That pretty much sums it up.  I exhibited at my very first craft show - the Queen City Craft Bazaar - on June 4th, so May whipped by like a hurricane.  I really didn't know what to expect.  I researched other bloggers' advice, I mocked up my booth, I gathered supplies, I sewed and painted until my fingers were raw and purple (from the paint...).  And on June 4th, I rocked it! 

Because I have a day job, I was able to push the looming deadline out of my mind for most of May and focus on supervising 14 national service members.  Folks, this was a mistake.  I spent the first half of May making a few items, dreaming of what my booth would look like, and heck, even relaxing a bit.  But the second half of May...that was a different story.  I had the misfortune of seeing a calendar which spelled out exactly how many days I had until I needed to be set up and available to the public.  And I freaked out.  And got depressed and overwhelmed, which is my way in the face of the unknown.  But then I slapped myself around and realized this was "go time", so I buckled down and made a TON of merch in a 2 week span.  It started off with a small pile of fabric and ended with my entire bedroom and living covered in bags, chalk boards, and dinosaur planters.  And a cute cat:

The night before was CHAOS.  May I make a suggestion to all future exhibitors?  DON'T WAIT UNTIL 12 HOURS BEFORE THE SHOW TO SET UP YOUR BOOTH IN YOUR HOUSE!!!!  I realized that 3 of my display pieces wouldn't fit, including a large table and a clothing rack.  And I admit it, I lost it.  There were tears.  There was a very handsome partner trying to talk me down off a ledge.  And there were SO MANY BASKETS full of stuff in my living room.  Had I thought to try this ahead of time, I would have had enough time to revamp the display in a thoughtful way.  Instead, I hacked together a solution by cutting out some of the items I brought to the show and grabbing a coat rack out of the bedroom.  It was ok in the end, but not ideal. 

And, I highly recommend getting a sign with your logo ahead of time.  My dear Josh was kind enough the day before the show to take my logo and trace it onto a piece of wood using a projector propped up on a step stool, a few books and a towel, and he hand painted the design to perfection  It was amazing and such a relief to have.  That's right, we were DIYing it within an inch of our lives. 

Saturday morning came (way too early in the morning) and we loaded up our two cars and drove down the hill to One Main Street in Burlington.  After all my fussing about getting there on time, there were only a few other vendors when we arrived and I started regretting that extra 45 minutes of sleep I denied myself.  Coffee only takes me so far, my friends.  But with a fantastic load in, a lot of futzing on my part, and a partner who was smart enough to high tail it out of there when I started getting antsy, it came together.

It was a long day.  It started at 7:30am and didn't end until 6:30pm.  And I was beat.  And it was hot in that building.  But I did do one thing really well - I invited one of my best friends to spend the day there with me.  And we had a blast!  Many people shared with us that we looked like we were having a great time and that was part of the reason they stopped at my booth.  And you know what, we were!  I adored talking to all the quirky, wonderful people who were attracted to my work, and the other fabulous vendors, and my friend.  I had a a blast.  And I made 23 sales, which was pretty fantastic when I found out at the end of the day that two neighboring vendors didn't have a single sale all day.  One of them actually asked me for advice.  Really?  Me?  First time vendor?  Woot!

Another major success of the day?  Load out took 24 minutes.  We were the champions of load out.  We kicked load out's butt. 

And, I came home with so much less than I brought.  It was truly excellent.  I forgot how much I miss interacting with the fabulous people who buy my stuff until I had an entire day to talk to them.  The internet, she is wonderful, but sometimes it's just a blast telling silly stories with other eccentric artsy people. 

The result?  I've already applied for another show in November.  I could get used to this "in person" thing :)


  1. LEH, you are amazing: smart, creative, energetic, and a little bit crazy. And you write well!

  2. This makes me feel better. I'm doing my first craft show 6 days and I'm a little crazy! So much to do still!

  3. You are inspiring me to take that leap and apply for a show. Thank you for this post.