My first mistake was assuming that I would make it to bed by midnight Friday.
Instead, I was up until 3, printing out last-minute signs and trying to make sure I had everything in order. My alarm coaxed me awake at 6 and I went about loading the car and putting some food and drinks in the cooler, only to realize that most of the ice trays were empty and therefore completely worthless to me. Bah. I filled a big travel mug with strong coffee and woke Ray up right before time to go, and we scooted over to Cooper-Young.
We found our stall and pulled the car into the nearest parking lot to unload as we waited for Shane — the bringer of the tables and chairs and the essential extra person to help successfully put up the tent. He ran into some traffic snags so we roped my pal Ed, who had just stopped by to chat, into helping us attempt to get the tent set up, since I was starting to panic a little about getting everything ready and the car moved before the streets were blocked off and Ray was effectively stuck there all day (he needed to be able to go home and sleep before his work shift that night) and the festival gates opened.
We got the tent mostly open and figured out, and then Shane arrived and applied his tent TLC to get it fully functional. We made pretty quick work of attaching the lattice and hanging the photos up on their janky little paperclips. I kept running into a brain block where I couldn’t quite figure out exactly how I wanted things to look, even though I had practiced the day before. Anyway, we were tidying up as the festival-goers started trickling in, but by and large, we got it done in time. I am so glad I have helpful friends, and that Shane has a good eye so that he could figure out the best place to put some things I was totally stymied by.
By 9:30 I was already sweaty and exhausted, but things were just getting started.
I made some sales early on, which was encouraging. I immediately met a sweet couple of ladies who really liked my Tennessee prints and were hoping to customize them as cards. The magnets of the same size were a big hit, too, and I sold out of one design and nearly out of the other. Another big seller was the Memphis letter collage print, which eventually sold out.
Several friends stopped by and chatted with me, which was a lovely cure for my hermit disease. Some friends even bought stuff, which was also awesome.
One of the coolest things that happened was getting to meet people who read the blog/follow the shop whom I’ve never met before. They were all so sweet and patient with me. Hi, everyone I met who might be reading this now!
Erica checked on me several times and, being a craft show veteran, even offered some suggestions about how to tweak the booth. I heeded her advice on moving the banner so that people could see in to the booth, but I didn’t have the energy to change the placement of the tables. Next time, maybe. Ray and Shane dropped back by to check on me, as did Amanda and Brandon, so I could walk around and take a pee break or two. I ate a giant burger from Celtic Crossing — that they delivered to my booth! — and swilled water to stave off dehydration.
It wasn’t so bad sitting there alone. I got to do some pretty fine people watching (some highlights: seeing a woman on a Rascal scooter accidentally careen into a neighboring booth and knock over a piece of art, and then later seeing a woman and a man have words — “ex-ca-uuuuuuse YOU!” when they both accidentally bumped into each other, and then even later watching some kid get caught trying to steal some dude’s sombrero) and it gave me a chance to sit back and tend to things in the booth that I might have ignored had I been otherwise distracted.
One of the bars across the front of the tent started to fall, and every third person who came inside hit his/her head on it on the way back out. I started warning everyone repeatedly to watch their heads, as many of them had had some beer and were not exactly observant. Ha. But I was scared that if I tried to push the bar back up, that my entire tent would collapse. So I left it.
It was really cool having people come by and have nice things to say about my art. I feel weird calling it that but that’s what it is. One man even told me I had the best collection out of all the photographers there. Sadly he didn’t buy anything but hey, a compliment is great too.
I can say I’d definitely do another craft fair, now that I sort of know how they work and what to expect, and the kinds of things craft show buyers seem to gravitate toward. It was an excellent marketing opportunity and I gave my cards out to everyone who would take one or two so they will hopefully check out my shop. Of course, this time next year I will have my hands full with a 10-month-old (!!!) but I would love to try my hand at it again. Maybe get a bigger tent and some sturdier structures from which to hang things. Maybe pare down my offerings a bit now that I know what didn’t garner much interest at all and what seemed to be popular. Definitely make extra copies of things that I can tell will be popular so that I don’t run out, although it’s really hard to predict what will take off and what won’t.
By the time we got home, I was completely exhausted and could hardly move. My hips and back were almost totally locked up and my head had started to hurt pretty bad. I was in bed by 10 p.m. and slept nearly 12 hours. I woke up sore and still tired. But it was a good tired. An accomplished tired. It was quite a leap to take to get my name out there and let people peruse through my artwork, opening myself up to judgment like that. I would so love it one day if this is how I could make a real living. Making and sharing and selling.