Sunday, January 12, 2014

A-fair to Remember

I think my new year's resolution should be to exercise more discipline and write entries more immediately and more consistently. . . alas (and indeed, a-lack . . . further terrible puns intended). That shameful acknowledgement aside, lets talk about stationery!

Warren Tales attended two craft fairs in December, and had lots to learn from both unique experiences:

Artisan's Alley is a local show, held in my hometown, and is mostly comprised of small- to medium-sized local craft business. Now, what with my *extensive* experience in business and craft fairs (cue laughter) is was terribly pretentious of me to even briefly consider such a supportive and driven show "small potatoes" but there I was with a swagger in my step thinking, "Psh, I've got this!" And oh, how the heavens did smite me.

First of all, it's excellent when experienced small businesses automatically intimidate us noobs into doubting ourselves. I hope they can see our impromptu panic and I hope it makes them smile, because they've earned it. That being said, my practice at Patchwork definitely paid off and I made good use of a small space. Set up was timely (if not quick), and as I'd prepared. But what's that? A black cloud of doom approaching our outdoor show? Hurry, Macgyver that plastic sheet over the not-remotely-waterproof-umbrella and form a little safety bubble over the paper. Other booths: nonplussed. I'm actually proud to say the bubble worked well . . . at first. Inevitably, the wind picked up and my sheet took off like a sail, making my little ship the S.S. Waterfall. Water water everywhere (care for a drop?). Shockingly however, my flapped cellophane sleeves held up against the elements—so well indeed that only one envelope of one card suffered minor water damage (though my display cards were quickly turned into abstract art). And what followed was even more amazing: people shopped.

The biggest surprise of the day by far was the enthusiasm of the shoppers. The weather was rough on my side of the table, but these guys were walking around umbrella in hand (or not) and carrying on like they were protecting themselves from the sun. They couldn't be happier to be there. And when the rain let up they sprouted tenfold. Coronado is typically a warm and loving place, but the reception Warren Tales received—and the commitment to supporting local businesses, rain or shine—was just incredible. The product feedback was excellent, sales were excellent, and the experience was excellent. I've got to give an astronomical round of applause to my little Crown Town for making the show what it was.

But the big bad returned with a vengeance. Rain is one thing, but biblical downpours are too much for a paperie to handle. We called it a few hours early in the name of self-preservation, packed up like it was our super power, and wished the veteran arks good luck with the flood.

In all, it was a very successful day which taught me A LOT about resources and limits, and also gave me confidence in my product. So huzzah for warm and fuzzy feelings (especially when soaked through).

At this point in my show experience, I'd learned the pitfalls of sunny cellophane (sweaty cards are not happy cards) but the benefits of its full-coverage (think greeting card raincoats), so I was curious to see how everything held up at Renegade—i.e. The Dust Bowl.

For once I was under cover, sharing a tent with the amazing Britta Ambauen and her beautiful jewelry, but I hadn't anticipated a "Park" of woodchips and the resulting "ninja dust" (as I like to call it). It was a menace: it stuck, it clogged, and it contaminated (sandwiches, mostly), generally covering everything as it kicked up from passersby. But the sleeves held up well, protecting the product, and a damp cloth held the madness mostly at bay—though a month later, I'm still finding it on freakin' everything. At this point, if you're peddling cards that are blank inside, and participating in outdoor shows, I really can't recommend using sleeves with fold-over flaps enough.

**Realization: Perhaps this isn't interesting to my everyday readers, in which case I sincerely apologize (especially if you actually read my posts every day—I love you!), but as someone in the biz, I was fascinated to discover so many nuances that vendors never seem to speak up about, so I thank you for bearing with me while I drop some knowledge (and maybe a little dignity after using that phrase).

To conclude: I enjoy the fact that my exhibiting experience has inadvertently turned into an anecdotal game of Dirt-Water-Cellophane. Perhaps I'll make that into an internal industry thank you card some day. Perhaps I'm that kid who doesn't know she's weird. Perhaps I'm happy you've read this far and feel validated in my eccentricities because of commitment like yours! My point is, I love this job, and I thank all of you for supporting me in the myriad of ways you do which allow me to keep working. You're the bee's knees, the cat's meow, and even the frog's hop.

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