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So Ya Want To Do A Craft Show?
By Joy Lomenick
You have gone to several art and crafts shows and marveled at all the goodies you have seen. Amazed by the talent and variety, you say to yourself, “I Can Do That!”
So, How do you start?
The first thing you have to do is make a product. You think and think and think. You go, “I’ll make a Binford 7000 Super Supreme Watch a Ma Call It. Waitttt a minute. Stop right there. That’s already been done. Geeeesh, please be original. So you think and think and think some more. Ohhhhhh, OK, you come up with an Out of this World, Intergalactic Heart Thumpin’ Miracle 850. Now also known as “the widget”. You have come up with three sizes in a multitude of different colors. You’re just so darned proud of yourself. Pride is oozing off of you. You hadn’t realized at the beginning though that you would be spending your sleeping hours and your dream time, making all these wonderous things. But you finally get enough, …..you think…..and are now off to find a show.
Finding the show was easy, right?
You’ve asked all around. And you have one hundred billion answers to your question: What is a good show to do? You’ve checked parks, and clubs, and promoters and chambers of commerce, and charity organizations, and street fairs and county fairs and church bazaars and wine festivals and music festivals and boy scouts and girl scouts and police functions, and boutiques and blah blah blah blah blahhhhhhhh…………and you have just realized that everyone and their grandma puts on a show. So what to do? You don’t want too small of a one, and you don’t want too large of a one. You want one that is “just right”. You don’t want one too far away, nor one in a not so great area, or one that is hard to set up, or one that is in the dirt, and you keep on looking. Just how darn hard can this be? So you narrow it down to what you feel is reasonable for you. And then you go………..you want HOW much for that booth? My God, you’re going to have to rent your significant other out for a month to pay for this. And what if you chose the wrong spot or the wrong show? You keep thinking, it can’t be that hard. But shoot, there are so many variables; your head is swimming in decisions. Now if you don’t think that can be a little messy, think again. Oooops, there goes another one floating by!
So they ask for pictures. Pictures? Why? Your stuff is the greatest thing since purple ketchup. What do they mean, you have to be juried in? So you groan for a few days, set up your widgets and take some pictures. You may even have to take a picture of yourself, just so they can see how cute and adorable you are. Then you scrape up all your pennies, your pictures, your whatever else they ask for, stuff it in the envelope and pray to the Craft God in the sky, that you have not forgotten any little requirement that they deem is the most important thing on earth….. and if you forget it, you will automatically be stoned. Then you send it in. Andddd you only have to wait, maybe two, three, four, five months before they let you know that you are in “THE” show. By this time, you have eaten everything in the house and the house next door, because the suspense is driving you nuts.
Finally it comes. May we have the envelope, please. The first thing you look for is that heart crushing word, “rejected”. Now rejected can mean several things. It can mean your category for widgets is full, it can mean your items are not worthy enough for them, or heaven forbid, some one else’s widgets are better!……Or that you spelled your name wrong or your five day deodorant pad is on day six. Who knows? They usually don’t bother telling you why they have just stomped on your heart and decimated you into a thousand little pieces of Jell-O. And they won’t tell you either. After all, they are the Craft God and you are the sacrificial lamb. And if you have paid a jury fee, kiss it good by. But this time you luck out. You see a space number instead! Woooo Hoooo!! Way to goooooooo. You… are… in! Of course you are in the back north forty or is that fifty, the porta potties are 5 miles a way, (footnote: bring your own paper, you will need it) you are on a hill that has a 20% grade, there is a tree in the center of your booth, the guy on one side of you is selling some sort of stinky food, heaven knows what that is about, the guy on the other side of you is selling CD’s, of which he only knows one song and plays it over and over and over, there is a sprinkler head in your booth which may or may not go off in your booth and the squirrels and dogs have used your space as a bathroom for the past month. Butttt, you are “in”! Yeahhhhhhhh.
Gotta a Canopy?
Now you are set. Show time is coming up. Is it going to be hot, cold, raining, snowing, or windy. Only the weatherman knows for sure…… or not. So you have to be prepared for everything. But you probably could place a bet against good perfect weather and win.
A canopy is a good thing. It covers you from the elements and the birds flying overhead. It protects your sacred merchandise. It gives you a little shop to sell your wares. This is why everyone who does this a lot, has one of those pointy little houses to sit in. Well, some aren’t pointy and you have to decide how many hundreds of dollars you wish to spend, so that you can be prepared at all times for all weather…. At what?…..at all times. You also need to know that weather strikes these little tents like tornadoes hit trailer parks. It’s the nature of the beast. Get good sides for them, get big weights for them, get big tie ropes or screws for them, whatever you need to keep them from flying like Dorothy’s dog, Toto. If you don’t, you will be living in it afterwards when someone sues you and takes your real house away. Which brings up insurance. You can protect yourself or live on the edge. It’s up to you.
What do we put in our little Pointy Palace?
Well the first thing is our display. What do we use? Things we find in the garage, our neighbors garage, ……the dump. Wow, there are so many options. This show is definitely out doors, so we don’t need to look for flame retardant fabric at this time. There is nothing worse than having your booth spontaneously combust before your very eyes. It’s just down right scary and besides all the reporters would be all over you for a cover story. Or you can build yourself a nice display if you are Tim the Tool Man. You can buy your display if you are still selling your significant other and are bucks up. This is where your creative juices come in. Be wild, be brave, be inventive, just make it look good with the type of widget you are selling. But I guarantee you,…….. you will be forever changing it and never satisfied with it. It will always be too heavy, too big, the wrong color, too high, too short,…….something! Your display will be the forever “changing their mind woman”, in disguise. Get used to it and learn to live with it. Then when you keep on changing it, it won’t be a surprise.
It’s Show Time!
It’s the night before the big show. You have spent weeks, getting things together. You are excited beyond belief and scared at the same time. It’s like being on an adrenalin high that doesn’t lessen up. You need to bring everything that you will need for every possibility of anything that can and will go wrong. Why, because something will. You need bags, scotch tape, money for change, paper, sun tan lotion, writing instruments,…. because you may not find a big rock to mark on, band aids, all kinds of clothing,…… so you can make fashion statements of course, scissors, duct tape, tie wraps, bungi cords, hammers, screwdrivers, charge slips if you give out credit, a cell phone……. in case you get lonesome and want to crank call someone……. you name it. Just clean out your garage and put it in your vehicle of choice. You need to keep warm, cool, and dry or a combination there of. And bring FOOD and DRINKS. Whatever you do, don’t forget those items. Otherwise you will have to eat the food at the shows. Not only will you have to lease out your partner again to pay for it, but you may also have to take a trip to the nearest stomach pumping station. And just for your information, buying ice cream bars and putting them in the cooler doesn’t work.
Ready Get Set and Go.
Now what? Everything is packed, you haven’t forgotten anything and you left a few inches in the front seat for your help to sit. And you have to get up at what time? Didn’t the sun just go down a few hours ago? Yawnnnnnnn. The coyotes are still out for heavens sake. Geeeeshhhhh, where did my comfy bed go? Didn’t you know? Entrepreneurs don’t get to sleep. So get dressed and get that tired ol’ body into the car. Gas,…….. hope you got it the night before. It’s only an hours drive so that’s not too bad. Then you have to sit in line to get to your space. That’s not too bad either. Then you pull up to where you can park. The guy next to you pulls up too close and you can’t get your side door open. Now you would think he would know better, wouldn’t you? Thennnnnn, you find out, he is parked on the only ramp over the curb. You ask him to move and be courteous to his neighbors but this guy is huge, hairy and smells like last nights beer, with pizza stains down the front of him, or is that from a bloody nose and some other confrontation? Who knows, he is just too darn creepy for you. So you take the dolly out and load it up and go around him the long way to your space, which is about 2 blocks away or so it seems. Two hundred loads later you have your vehicle emptied and moved to the designated area to park. Remember one of those dumb questions you had to fill out………what is your license plate number? Well that’s for the tow trucks who are lined up just waiting to drag off your prized possession for parking in the wronggggg area. Remember you are the peon and only customers get to park close by.
Now how about getting that tent thing a ma jig up. EZ up my……….! They should have named this thing a struggle up because that is what it is. So you manage to get the buttons and the legs up without too many pinched fingers. You get the sides up to protect you from all the bad things in the little weather bag of tricks. And you are feeling mighty fine. Only an hour has gone by and only two fights have broken out. You are on a roll now. And you have only had to move the boxes with your widgets in them about 6 times to get them out of your way. Oh, you did get those great rubber plastic ones, didn’t you? Because if you didn’t, your card board ones have soaked up every bit of moisture on the ground for miles around. You set up your display now and only found out that 2 of your table legs don’t reach the ground. Bring some wood to even things out because finding the perfect rock to put under them may be impossible and your neighbor has beat you to them anyway. You could sneak over and steal them, but your neighbor is that scary dude and now he smells like kid sweat on top of everything else. Whoa, hope you had an air wick on your supply list. Soooooooo, everything is set to put your stock on. You lovingly display it. It looks great! All sized and color coordinated and just down right grand looking. And it has only taken you how many hours? Want to start from the time you got up, or the time you got there? The show opens at 10am and you have had a few customers who showed up at 8am because they wanted to crawl all over your booth before anyone else. But you were polite letting them get in your way because you might get a sale from one of them. They ask a bunch of questions which you eagerly answer, and your heart is pounding in anticipation of your very first sale and they go “We’ll Be Back Later”. OH MY GOD, this is the kiss of death. The dreaded Be Backs, who of course never come back. Or the second best line: “Where is your next show?” “Well, helllllllllo, I’m here right now!”
There ya have it………Your first experience at a craft show. The day is long and getting longer. The bathroom is now more than 5 miles away so you haven’t drank very much and if you have, the bush behind you is getting a good watering. Good thing you brought some food with you. Right?
Customers are a “whole” other story, and I mean a “whole” other story, so for right now, I’m going to skip over them. They are not even just a story,….. but a book full of life’s little surprises.
Thank God, dusk has arrived………or Pennies from Heaven
But the show is over for the day. And you get to pack up all this stuff that you so lovingly put out. But instead of gently putting them back in the boxes you just throw them back in, because now it is a major scramble on who gets the parking spot to load out of first. I mean, World War Three, the biggy, has almost broken out many times at this point of the day. Seems like everyone has taken their mean pill and it is just starting to take affect. It’s sort of like Around the World in 80 days…………the great race has begun.
It’s getting dark out so you had better hurry or you and the fire flies will be out there alone. And there are spooky things in the night. You get the last box back to the car and it doesn’t fit. Now how did that happen? They all fit before. Lucky for you, your partner doesn’t mind driving home for an hour with widgets on their lap. You pull up into your drive way and wonder “What on earth was I thinking”? or “I, made HOW much an hour?” “Oh, we don’t count hours because that drops us down to poverty wages”……. But you have to do it again, because you didn’t sell all those wonderful widgets! And thus starts the cycle of a never ending story.