My Craft Fair Initiation: Part Two

My first craft fair vending experience is now officially complete.

For those following along, my last post outlined Part One of this vending endeavor, which entailed me bringing my photography note cards to sell at my first craft fair, held at the Kauai Veteran’s Center this past Saturday.

On the morning of, the Bohemian, my escort, rose with a smile, even though it was 5am and his day off work. He drove us to the veteran’s center, where retired military planes were grounded as sentries on the front lawn. We were one of the first arrivals to see the nineteen empty tables waiting in rows, filling about half the space of the hall.

2014-05-12_vet hall empty

 

I was assigned the odd one. As in, the nineteenth table outside the rows, sticking out from the rest like a panhandle. The Bohemian took it as luck, reasoning that I was out of the lines and better seen from the front entrance. And besides, he pointed out, I was the table positioned closest to the food counter, where the donuts and coffee were being sold. Surely, everyone would be passing my wares on their way to breakfast.

 

note the precise timing of breakfast into lunch, as well as the backwards 3 as an E in Pepsi - love it!
note the precise timing of breakfast into lunch, as well as the backwards 3 as an E in Pepsi – love it!

 

One seasoned vendor, a slight woman in her sixties, with a silk plumeria clipped in her hair, snatched up the Bohemian right away, requesting he assist her in unloading her car. She’d had surgery on her wrist recently, and needed help lifting boxes to her cart. So while he helped her move jewelry cases, I opened up my solitary storage box and began set up.

By 7:30, all tables were to be “public ready.” Most were, as the nineteen representing vendors filtered into the hall, transforming their stations with rote-like automation. Some whipped out smartphones with high-tech accessories attached for credit card swiping. I held my grandmother’s old evening-bag clutch, inside of which I’d placed cardboard dividers between my ones, fives, tens and twenties. I hadn’t thought anyone would want to pay by credit card.

The coffee was brewed and wafting from the kitchen close to me. The Bohemian was now troubleshooting the jewelry vendor’s boom box on the floor by a wall outlet. I could hear her saying something about how studies had shown that certain music made shoppers more likely to buy. A bit more fiddling ensued, and soon some kind of Celtic-riverdance-meets-Andean-pan-pipes began booming out from the portable radio.

Mission accomplished, the Bohemian walked towards me, smiling, giving his shoulders a half-shrug, affirming the tunes. “It’s nice.”

What wasn’t nice, was that the compact disc chosen to play, had only three tracks set to repeat. And I kid you not, those same three instrumentals played in the background for the entire six-hour event, non-stop. So ingrained in my being by day’s end, that once back home and showering, I thought I heard the haunting sounds again, only to realize it was simply the sound of water in the drain triggering the phantom echo.

This craft fair event was held on a day filled with numerous island festivals on every shore. But despite the competing activities, the crowd that passed through our half-empty veteran’s hall was respectable in numbers. At least to my novice eye.

 

2014-05-12_vet museum

 

I didn’t sell everything I brought, but I sold a fair amount. More than the sales, however, was getting to see people experiencing the images on the cards. It was great fun for me to watch shoppers flipping through my stack of note cards with ooh’s and ahh’s. Someone would look at the photo of the purple cauliflower, and just like me in the moment I’d taken the shot, they were ‘wowed’ by it. People paused to take a look. Stopped to see something small and ordinary. Appreciated it.

Whether someone bought a card or not, many seemed to get a little happiness just by looking at the images. That, I very much enjoyed.

 

2014-05-12_vending table

 

By the end of my inaugural vending affair, I was wrapping up my goods with some cash in hand and plenty of new gifts. The Bohemian had bought me a shell necklace and earring set (a mother’s day gift, care of the jewelry vendor with the poor DJ skills). Another vendor gifted me two of her handmade bracelets, kindly saying that she hoped I would come to every craft fair they had. The crafter at my neighboring table, offered one of her denim patchwork bags, sewn for the purpose of  holding rubbish in the car.

Did I survive to vend again? Most definitely. I made it out of that first-time craft fair experience alive and well. Will I dip my toe back in those merchant waters? Maybe.

Not sure I’d do the veteran’s hall venue again. But it was a kind and gentle pool for this newbie to wade into.

4 Comments

  1. My kids and I did a children’s craft show two years in a row and we had a blast both times. It was so gratifying to see the reactions of people to their creations which were abstract felted Christmas tree ornaments. By the end of the day, though, we were pretty pooped with the constant chit chat required of being a vendor. I’m sure your cards will do well, Jessica. You’re a wonderful photographer.

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    1. Thank you, Susanne. It was fun, and you’re right – you have to chat a lot. I knew this, but what’s funnier, is how I continue to lean more into the realm of a hermit as the years go on. So what am I doing setting up shop in the public sphere? I’ve said I’m following a thread, so we’ll see where this one unravels. Ha! Thanks for your kind words.

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  2. How funny! I feel your pain with that music on loop. I have done many a vintage fair over the last 4 years or so and each is unique. You never know what to expect, re sales,but I have learnt the happiest memories of the day come from the people you meet. It’s such a joy to see people respond favourably to something you have made and meeting other makers is the icing on the cake. Hope you dip more toes!!

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