Monday, September 5, 2011

Fun, Informative But Not At All Lucrative

This fair was held inside in conjunction with a beer garden. In fact, most of the fair-goers walked in from the beer garden. Many of them had condensation slicked glasses of delicious looking beer. The beer garden had wait service for the vendors at their tables. I love beer. Do you see where this is going?

But let's start at the beginning.
How this fair worked: You ask a thousand questions through e-mail (this is very important as you'll not have another opportunity to ask many questions once the fair starts). You paypal your table fee. You get an e-mail back with your table number. You show up at Bohemian Hall a little early because you are eager and chomping at the bit. You find your table number, which was kinda superfluous as the table has both your number and your name written on a sticky paper. You set up.

After spending two days worrying and planning, the planning part paid off big time. It took less than 20 minutes to set up the table:

A few things I learned about my display. I need a mirror. I should make either another gigantic Display Thingy or two smaller ones to flank it. I need a way to showcase my bracelet/earring combos.

The first sale happened as soon as the doors opened to the public. 2 PM start time, 2:05 first sale. Cha-ching! This is great! This is gonna be the best thing eva! I'm gonna make a mi. . . um. . . hello? Two hours pass with only a few looky-loos going by. But there was entertainment.

An hour in the Cupcake Girls showed up and totally pissed off a vendor to the left of me (vintage jewelry). They sold mini two bite cupcakes for a buck. As if that wasn't enough, they wore micro-mini skirts and an apron-- at that's it. They were at the table directly opposite mine, which made Hubby happy. Very happy. Especially whenever they had to replace sold cupcakes on their display. This is because they had to bend over to delicately place each mini-cupcake on it's display stand. They sold a lot of cupcakes. Hell, I bought two. They were nice girls.

An hour and a half in, me and the hubs broke down and bought a mug of beer. We nursed that beer for an hour. But that seemed to break the ice. The vendors to the right of us (original art) also purchased themselves glasses of beer. A quick look at the beer garden's menu showed how economically stupid buying a mug of beer was. One mug of beer-- $6. One pitcher of beer-- $14. Hubby noticed this pitcher enticement when, one by one, the vendors around us started buying pitchers of beer. After nursing our mugs we bought a pitcher too. And then I asked the original artists, "Have you spent more on beer than you've made?"

"I think that's true for everybody. Except the cupcake girls,"

In the end, we did sell more than what we spent on beer as the last two hours things picked up considerably. But not enough to make up the table cost AND the beer. The other vendors, however, were a treasure trove of good advice. All the jewelry sellers (and there were quite a few of us) told me that I am selling my stuff too cheaply. It wasn't because they thought I was underselling them, I don't think. It was more like I was devaluing everyone's efforts. Here's one conversation I had:

"Wow, did you hand wrap those earrings yourself?"
"Yeah. I don't use machines."
"That took you how long?"
"Oh, I dunno. Two or three hours each, maybe."
"And you're selling them for $8?"
"The sterling silver ones are $25."
"Materials aside, you've got to pay yourself!"

Oh and the reason I got to talk to many of the jewelry sellers, besides there being very few buyers for the first 3 hours, was The Display Thingy. Everyone wanted to know where I got it. When I told them I made it (no, I didn't mention The Boy. Why would I? It's not like they'd care) they all wanted to know if I'd consider selling it. No kidding, I got two serious offers for it. Nope, not for sale. It was like pulling teeth just to get this one. And now I'm thinking of making more-- for me.

I would be remiss if I did not mention my wonderful and talented table partner, Hubby. He has table sat fairs in the past, although usually not selling things (he works for a non-profit and is on the board of two other non-profits that frequently set up information tables at street fairs). He'd smile, say hi to everybody. He offered them cards if they didn't like what was on display. He was everything I was not. I have a problem pretending I want to talk to people that I have absolutely nothing to say to. I find it awkward. "Yeah, hi. So. . . what?"

The beer helped.

Next month, either Hofstra or West Hempstead street fair.

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