Thursday, June 21, 2012

Craft Show Mania! Part 2

Travel with the Mobile Mermaid - Part 2

Saturday, May 26

Another 5:47 wake up call, this time I don't have to go so far, this weekend's location is just about an hour away. My booth will be located in a big tent, so I don’t need to bring mine, and was able to fit everything into my little convertible. I’m doing the set up alone today. I walk into the tent at 8:15 and all the booths are all set up already. All the displays are super elaborate with walls and lighting and major display furniture. I feel a little amateurish. My backdrop isn’t long enough; it’s hot and sticky. I set up the best I can, it looks fine but not great compared to all the other vendors. I also notice my work not quite fitting in.

And so starts a long and sweaty day with a new experience for me, I make no sales. Thankfully I hear a couple of other vendors are having the same problem. It often takes a little while for me to make my first sale but I’ve never not sold anything, not even on my first market where I basically just stood in the middle of the street with a tiny rack of clothes. It’s a bit depressing, especially since I’ve already signed up for the Labor Day fair too; I’m feeling a hole burning in my pocket. I take it in stride, I guess it had to happen at some point, just wish it were somewhere that was less of an investment. I make a list of what to bring tomorrow – lights, a fan and one of my tent walls for hiding the mess in the back of the booth better.

Sunday, May 27

It’s much less sticky today. The booth looks much better thanks to the two lights I was able to put behind the clothing racks. I moved my store sign around too and dressed the mannequin in one of my attention-grabbing raincoats. I sell a tank top after a couple of hours, not a big ticket item but better than nothing. Then a repeat customer of mine comes by and she orders one of my jackets for fall. The crowd seems a bit more receptive, but it’s still slow. I speak with another vendor who says she’s been doing the show for 28 years and this one has been the worst.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Today promises to be a scorcher, the forecast calls for 90 degrees. Makes me dread today. But the day starts on a positive note, two sales in the first hour. I’m getting closer to making the booth fee back at least. The fans are blowing in every booth, I’m glad I’m not outside in the sun but things are getting pretty sticky inside the big tent too. Hopefully any thunderstorms will hold off until the show is done and everything is packed up in the car. At the end of the day I'm still short of the booth fee but at least I'm close. And it didn't rain.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

How nice was it to have a Saturday to get some stuff done at home! But off we go again. It’s time for the Hudson Valley Etsy Team organized fair in Fishkill. I’m a little worried because of last weekend, The day starts with some car trouble, the darn door sensors are busted and the lights keep coming on and the check engine light is on too. Not a great thing to combine with nerves but I decide to just go, hopefully the car will hold. 

I get to the show about an hour before it starts, everyone else is already almost all set up. I bravely pull the car in front of my spot and start unloading. My lovely booth neighbor Jess and her helper are wonderful and help me put up my tent. I decide to put some of my newly thought out booth ideas to work and put up a nice curtain in the back of the booth which ends up to be quite tricky, in the end the booth looks great, people are already browsing before I finish setting up. It takes a while to get my first sale but then I get super busy and the gorgeous day is putting people in a buying mood. 

Then I start seeing people pointing at the sky and look, there’s a storm a-brewing. I’m not too worried, I got weights on my tent and while most everyone else is starting to pack up and bring their things to safety I start putting up my tent walls. But then comes a big ‘ole wind gust and things start going haywire…my tent is moving (darn, I didn’t tie the cinder blocks to the tent as I was taught to do a couple of weeks ago), the racks are falling…OK, it’s time to pack up! Wonderful Gwen helps me pile my clothes and accessories into my car and a couple of other vendors jump to dismantle my tent…in the end I get all my merchandise into the dry just in time but everything else starts getting wet, the dressing room curtains, the tent, all my stuff is a big pile in the parking lot while most everyone else is pulling away. I decide to wait through the storm. I have to totally repack the car as everything only fits if you play a perfect game of Tetris. The storm passes as quickly as it came, I’m ready to set up again but everyone else has left. I could’ve used some more making up for last week’s disaster!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

I had a weekend off! Well, not off, I started working on my Spring 2013 collection, but I was home all weekend, what a luxury. I had a bit of an itch to do a market though, after all this heavy lifting the last few weeks my arms are starting to look pretty good!

This show will probably be a small one, it’s at Olana, the gorgeous home of Hudson River School painter Frederic Church, and there are only supposed to be about 15 vendors. It’s on the grounds so people have to really come out to it. We can set up wherever we want. My husband’s helping me and we brought my tent but end up not needing it. They have a big tent set up outside or we can choose a space inside the education center. It’s a gorgeous day so we stay outside. We enjoy the sun, I try to make that nasty cold I got to go away (luckily I’m only at the sore throat stage, so no worries about sneezing at customers). We have a nice afternoon and meet some nice people but I barely sell anything. I’m exhausted at the end of the day even though the fair also only lasted 3.5 hours.


Most important lesson learned - do your homework, learn as much as you can about any markets you participate in. Hefty fees don't necessarily mean lots of sales. It's all about finding great organizers and the right audience. And make sure the weather gods like you!

Now on to bigger and better things! Next Sunday you’ll find me in Boston at an amazing looking fair – Union Made – can’t wait. Sell, sell, sell, buy, buy, buy! It all looks well, great organizers and amazing vendors, keep your fingers crossed for the weather and the traveling mermaid…

You can find more info on Sarah-Maria and her clothing line at and


Amy/Sweet Olive Jewelry said...

Shows can be addictive, but the ups and downs can drive you crazy! It's hard not to think of them just in terms of sales, but they can also be a good opportunity for exposure or meeting new contacts--if they are the right shows for you.

becky nielsen said...

Glad to hear your experiences, Sarah - Maria, but wish they'd been better for you. It really does take a long time to figure out where you belong, and the trick is that things change from year to year. Hope Boston proves to be a great market for you! You sure get gold stars for trying!!

Debi - Tink's Treasure said...

Really enjoyed reading about your show experiences Sarah-Maria. Thanx for sharing!

Shannon Chomanczuk said...

Hey Sarah, we were at the same show at Olana. I wish I had know it I would have liked to meet you. I decided to be inside.
I did okay but it was my first show, I had fun and that's what really matters :-)