Tuesday, July 27, 2010

My Shopping Challenge: 140 "Shops" in 20 Minutes

submitted by Amanda Fisher, Verabelle

We're always sharing photos with you of our members behind booths at craft shows, festivals, and events. But have you ever wondered what it's like from the other side of the table?

Summer is the time for craft fairs, and this past month, I've sold at two, with one more on the schedule. And many of my fellow Crown Town crafters have also been there, behind the booths. Yes, there's weeks on end of prepping, making, planning, crafting tags and packaging. There's packing up the car (my vote for the worst activity - goodness, will it all fit?!), hauling heavy things to your spot, set-up, take-down, packing up the car (again!), and unloading (sometimes a week later - we're all guilty).

But there's nothing that beats the rush you get from having all your handmade wares out in the community for people to see and ooooh and ahhhh over. For just one little day, or even a few hours, it's like having your own store complete with displays and the fine details - just a taste of something we all dream about. It's also very helpful to sit back and watch shoppers' reactions, to see in person what works, what doesn't and best of all, what products people get absolutely giddy over.

But the hardest part (aside from packing up the car), is looking out from behind the booth, hands outstretched, wanting to touch and try on all the other little doo-dads and handmade what-nots that aren't yours. And the alarm: they're here, for one time only! We want to get out there and get giddy over handmade too!

A few weeks ago, I was selling at Asheville's biannual fair, The Big Crafty. This event had over 140 indie crafters. They were spread inside and out, in every nook and cranny of the Asheville Art Museum. Just from looking across the pavement, if I had a couple of hours and a wallet full of cash, I knew there would be trouble.

My birthday and holiday shopping lists were in my purse, ready to go, and a promise several years old of giving as many gifts of the homemade, handmade, or secondhand variety as possible. What better place to mark a few people off than at a maker's fair with the highest concentration of cool stuff I had ever seen?

The dilema: my boyfriend and booth-mate, Paul, thinks he really sucks at selling women's clothing and that it's totally obvious that he had no part in making the things at my booth. He gets anxious being left there for too long. So I waited... I knew the slow time would come, and then I could pounce.

After lots of wonderful sales to some lovely people, the cash in my pocket was getting hot. A rain shower drove some of the shoppers back indoors, and I saw my moment... Paul was well-supplied with instructions, had already given the credit card machine a few swipes, kind of knew how to tie a bow on a package, and if nothing else, he had his cell phone to call in case of emergency. Wallet and list in hand, I was off!

I have never shopped so quickly in all my life. Over 140 booths in about 20 minutes. How I did it, I'll never know. There was no lingering, no long and meaningful conversations with my fellow makers, just pure purchasing power! I made some of the quickest shopping decisions of my life. Object in hand, there was only one question: "Do I want it? Decide now!"

My twenty-minute shopping marathon was successful. I came back with a holiday gift for Paul, birthday gifts for two friends, a letterpressed postcard to send my friend in Wyoming, and a little gift for myself! I can only share the shop links to some of these, because I can't give away any surprises, but you can see a photo of the cute headband, and my button-ring from my series of 10-minute shopping sprints at this month's Crafty Feast in Columbia. And please, if you were at a craft fair recently, share your finds with us, so that I(we)can live vicariously.

Shop Stops

Sew She Sews http://www.soshesews.etsy.com

Mood Swing http://moodswingstudio.com

Ragamuffin Press http://www.ragamuffinpress.etsy.com

Finkelstein's Center http://www.finkelsteins.etsy.com

Token Emotion http://www.TokenEmotion.etsy.com

1 comment:

  1. I love this entry! I arrived in Asheville for The Big Crafty later in the day and only had about an hour to hit all the booths so I can totally relate to your experience. There are always so many amazing crafters with one-of-a-kind goodies!