Sunday, September 9, 2012

Craft Show Report

On Saturday, I participated in my third craft show, setting up a table of Studio 791 creations at the Tinicum Township Fire Company's Red Hot Flea Market, held right in the firehouse.
As some of you know from my Facebook post, the sale was extraordinarily unsuccessful for me.  I sold little, and realized very clearly that a flea market is not the place for a crafter or artist to reach her best audience.  People were selling guns, fishing rods, and old video game systems, as well as clothing, dishware, and toys. The folks coming to buy these things had little interest in handmade notebooks, gift tags, and collaged vintage cabinet cards!
But while the day was a bust in terms of sales, I still found things to enjoy about the experience.  First off, I got to see a firehouse at close range.  The walls were lined with firefighters' lockers:  helmets and gloves on top, jackets on closet rods in the middle, and overalls sitting right over top of their boots on the bottom, ready to jump in and pull right up.  I noticed four lockers right next to each other labeled with the last name "Medendorp," and marveled at this family that had given themselves so completely to the same dangerous career. 
A call came in around 8 a.m., when I was setting up my table for the 9 a.m. start time.  Three men rushed in and started "gearing up" right behind me.  One of them was practically panting, and said, "I didn't even get home before the call came in.  Is it confirmed, a building?"  The other two, calm, pulled on their gear, said they didn't know, and they all rushed out to take care of the emergency. 

The fire fighters had moved their trucks out into the parking lot, and we moved our tables in.  I paid for an "indoor" spot, but what that really meant was "covered."  Both sides of the firehouse were fully opened, so we were still at the mercy of the wind. 
I've always said I wouldn't do an outdoor sale because the wind poses too great of a challenge to a woman selling things made of paper.  Indeed, I spent quite a bit of time chasing down things that flew off my table, anchoring my table covering with clips that still weren't heavy enough to keep it from flipping up, and completely revamping one display item that kept tipping over and clattering to the floor.  In another part of the fire house, I saw (and heard!) a glass vase crash into pieces on the floor, and I had to help an elderly woman across the aisle from me put aright a clothing rack that fell over and spilled its contents onto the stall next to her.  As you can imagine, that was quite a powerful breeze running through that place!
I had lots of time for people-watching during the day.  I noticed in a remarkable number of cases:  the women walked through the aisles purposefully, while the men walked behind them, carrying little dried flower arrangements and scented candles, looking by turns dazed and vacant. 

At my last show, I had the delightful experience of a young boy who absolutely loved the things I was selling.  He came by with his mother multiple times, his eyes scanning the table, literally "oohing" and "ahhing" over the things he wanted.  She gave him $10 to spend, as I recall, and we worked together to get him the most for his money.  It made my day!

This time, it was a little girl who seemed smitten by all things paper.  Her mother described her as "the artsy craftsy one," and she looked over everything on the table with a careful eye.  As she looked at one my binder ring notebooks (a little notebook made of half-size index cards, held together with binder rings), I started giving suggestions for what it could be used for and said, "You could jot down craft ideas..."  "Mom," she said, "it's PERFECT for craft ideas!"  She was just such a doll.   She marveled at the airmail envelope notebooks:  "You made this from an ENVELOPE?!"  So I showed her how I put it together.   I love that she might get some ideas for her own crafting and get excited about working with paper.  Look at me, after all:  it could end up being a life-long love for her! 
A young teenaged girl came later, then ran to grab her friend and bring her to the table.  I heard them whisper together, and could tell that they were talking about how they might be able to make one of the items (I couldn't tell which one) for themselves.  While I would love to rake in the bucks with grown-ups buying my things, I love even more that young people might get ideas and inspiration from what they see at my table.  These were the encounters that were the highlight of my day.

I have three more shows this season, and I am hoping for greater success, obviously.  But having such a dreary result on Saturday just might be the kick in the you-know-what that I need to get an Etsy shop up and running.  FINALLY.  It was one of my New Year's Resolutions, after all!  What better way to find an audience who understands and appreciates what you are creating than an environment in which they can search specifically for just those things? 

With that in mind, I have some research to do, and I welcome any and all feedback and suggestions related to getting an online shop underway! 

And to those of you who have supported me with purchases (thank you, Sue and Cindy!!), encouragement, and comfort in the wake of Saturday:  THANK YOU!


aimee said...

Oh, I have been there with the craft shows and flea markets! It's so hard to figure out what people will and won't buy, and it is eternally frustrating to realize once you're there that you are faced with an audience mismatch and then you have to sit and smile and look happy while everyone scoops up the guns and fishing rods with enthusiasm at the booths around you. I call those live & learns! Thank goodness for our friends and family who come and buy from us anyway! :)

Janet said...

Sorry the craft show wasn't more successful for you but it sounds like you might have inspired several young people.

scrapwordsmom said...

If I came to your show I think I would by most of it!! Seriously love your stuff. Craft shows are tricky things I have found and I am pretty picky now about which ones i will do. It is always good to get your name out there!!!!!


laurie said...

my sister and i used to participate in craft shows. the best part was meeting the other vendors. sometimes we just traded items with them! i know it can be discouraging but with the holidays around the corner, i bet you will do better at your next few shows.

LooseCanon said...

I am imagining a new line of cards from this experience to handle the flea market guys. "Guy cards" and they'll have splats of dirt, greasy fingerprints, beer bottle stains and sentiments like "yer purtier than my dog!" or "You took my bait and I've been hangin' on ever since!" OK, maybe the idea needs a little work...