Well, we did it — our first ever venture into the craft fair world and; over-all, it was a positive experience. Our goal was to break even financially and we achieved that plus some additional profit. Since this was our first time we had the cost of the tent, shelving, drapes, etc. but lucky for us these were material costs only. So blessed with Diane’s sewing skills and my woodworking abilities. So, what was the experience like you may wonder?
For starters it took us two trips with the truck to get everything set up. The site is less than 5 miles from our home so that’s one of the reasons we chose this fair. The first load was the tent, tables, and shelves. We were able to set up on Friday and started the process after lunch. The second trip brought all of our wares to the site. I had taken a furniture dolly and bolted a piece of MDF to it. Two holes and a rope for the handle and it worked. You weren’t allowed to drive on the grounds so everything needed to be hauled to the site. The weather was beautiful and the over-all atmosphere was friendly and just plain nice! Everything was set up and we were done by 5pm or so.
Saturday the festival opened at 9am and we arrived a good thirty minutes before that to do any last minute preparations. The crowds were consistent all day and reacted very positively to our work. I enjoyed seeing the kids eyes light up when they saw Diane’s dolls and of course she’d invite them to come in and feel how soft and cuddly they actually were. As for my side of the booth people were complimenting the joinery and exotic woods that I use. A big draw for me was the pistol case, if only 20% of the people follow through that said they had a pistol they would like to have a case made for I’ll be busy for quite some time! The day ended, we wrapped a tarp around the front of the booth and headed out to Smashburger for dinner and a well deserved beer.
Sunday it was windy. How windy was it?; well the back curtain would blow in hard enough to knock Diane’s’ display over! Our first attempts were to move the display in but that wasn’t enough. The man behind us suggested moving the tent instead and helped us do that. Thankfully the 40 pounds of sand attached to each leg kept the tent grounded. In spite of the wind there was a good sized crowd which grew after 11am or so.
Our booth was situated so it faced south and east. Around 3pm or so a few people started to mention the clouds building up but from our location the skies were blue and mostly clear. Stepping out of the booth and looking to the west there was an ugly mass of black clouds coming over the Spring Mountains and the wind had a definite chill to it. It did start to blow harder and rain just before 4pm and as you know, wood and water are not a good combination unless it’s a boat! We pulled our stuff under the tent the best we could but the fair goers were headed to their cars so most of us began closing down for the day even though the scheduled time to quit was 5pm. I made two trips to the truck, dragging the dolly loaded with boxes across this huge expanse of grass (soccer field actually) and luckily the rain let up. We took the car and the truck so were able to get all of our stuff home in one trip. Here’s how our booths looked before the rain and wind:
It was interesting talking to some of the more seasoned art fair participants. Some have a schedule that keeps them on the road for weeks at a time. One man has been doing this since 1977 and he sold outdoor fountains which aren’t all that easy to move around. Getting first hand reactions to our work was priceless. Based on peoples’ suggestions and requests I now have some ideas of items I could make. Diane already has one custom order and another is in the works. We couldn’t have had a better advertising campaign than being at this fair. We made it a point to tell everyone that we’re locals, that generated a lot of interest for my custom furniture work which is what I really prefer to do.
The experience had its’ ups and downs but over-all was a positive one for both of us. Will we do it again?; definitely! Not every weekend but maybe we’ll pick and choose a few local shows each year. Thanks to all of you that came out to visit our booth and lend your support — we really appreciate that.