June 27, 2013

Confessions of a Renegade

Oh, boy. I was in my first outdoor show last weekend, the Renegade Craft Fair. For those of you who have done it, you know I jumped into the deep end on this one. Held over two days at East River State Park, with 300 other vendors and the Flea next door, I found myself facing the heat, the wind, stanky port-o-potties, shoppers overwhelmed with choice, the threat of rain, a match.com style share (she was fantastic), a new tent, a new display that was only superficially conceptualized because I was so busy making inventory, a long trek over many surfaces to move all the aforementioned items to my assigned space (#103), a husband increasing feeling like a pack mule, kids neglected, and a sneaking suspicion that this was maybe not going to be my crowd anyway. Whew! 

 Does he look disgruntled yet?

Well, like much in life, it wasn't transcendent and it wasn't a disaster, either.  My display did suffer from lack of detailed pre-thought, but it was okay. Some pics:

Ikea Hack!

Gussied up Ikea Hack

Happy shoppers dazed with choice
With a smile on our faces and sweat on our brows, my share partner and I worked together for two days to pass time, get to know each other, keep cool, and help the crowd notice our fine wares among all the other really interesting and talented vendors. The neighboring handsome dudes from Columbia chatted us up about the existence of mermaids and later asked my cousin out on a date, then a girl came into the tent like she meant business and asked my partner if this tunic on sale was used as a dress would it make her look like a skank, and the last customer to enter our tent before closing came in, kinda looked at me, darted his eyes around, turned back out and crisply informed me on the way that he knows what he wants when he sees it and buys it only if he wants to after I asked him if there was anything in particular he was looking for. Guess not! And even if I may have spent most of my profits on freshly squeezed orange and ginger juice over the span of the two days, I'm thinking it was a pretty good time all in all.
That said, at the end of the evening, back at home, late, hungry and tired, I got serious and considered my experience. How did I do? Respectably. Would I do it again? Maybe not, considering set up and the kind and amount of hours put in. But, I had to ask myself, what if? What if I had understood the layout and been assertive about requesting an area? What if I didn't do a share? Would I  have actually done more business by myself with a different front-facing set up? Enough to justify the higher fee? That is something I'm going to have to think about. That night, I was inclined to say no. But like childbirth, the pain fades and only the sweet part remains. I made some fantastic friends, met some really interesting people, had a wholesale inquiry already moving forward, and in general got my name out there. Maybe it's not just about the bare bones of selling at my stage in the game. Maybe it's about creating a presence, getting the name out both in the real and virtual worlds. But that kind of value takes time to assess. And what is that value in real dollars and real time spent? Hard to say right now. And that's okay, I got another year to figure it out. :)
As always, thanks for reading. Take care. :)

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