After a good nights sleep, Sunday morning arrived with a clear blue sky, warm temps (even here for October) and saw Diane and I ready for another day of manning our booth. Let me share what we went through at first to get here!
This is the twentieth time this event has taken place and the first time in its new venue of Downtown Summerlin. Two years ago Diane and I made it our first craft fair where she featured her Rag Dolls and my boxes. That year this event was held in a large park but many attendees complained about the parking which was across the street in a dirt lot! This year those complaints are gone with literally hundreds of parking spaces and garages for them to park in. Downtown Summerlin is a collection of stores and restaurants set up as an outdoor mall. Only 100 artists and crafts people were juried into the show this year and I was fortunate enough to be one of them. The show was held on Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 5pm. Very well organized with lots of activities including a Farmer’s Market that was held on one of the streets within the Downtown Summerlin area.
Diane and I took our E-Z Up tent, shelves, and tables around 9am on Friday morning. There was lots of activity as many others were setting up as well. The area where the event was held was a dirt lot a month ago but now covered with grass. As we put the tent sides on we noticed how humid it got inside the tent as the above record temperatures in the 90’s combined with the wet grass turned our tent into a sauna! Thankfully, our open sides faced east and north so after 11am or so we were spared the direct sunlight. Since it was so warm we decided to wait until the afternoon to bring our sales items to the tent.
This year we purchased zip down sides so when we left they were simply attached to the legs with Velcro and zipped closed. The event is well run with security there all night. So much for Friday set up, now at 9am on Saturday we were ready to make some sales and contacts. First of all though, the inside of the tent was like a sauna and the first thing I noticed was that the boxes with sliding lids didn’t slide very well and the lift off lids were a bit sticky! Thank goodness, after an hour or so the humidity levels came back to our customary single digits and all was well in the world of wood.
There are two main things I wanted to accomplish during this event. First of all the obvious — sales which supply the needed funds to enter the fair and also buy more materials for future projects. That goal was accomplished. The other goal I had was to make contacts with potential local clients for custom furniture work. I’ve lost track but I’m certain I talked to at least a dozen people who told me of a need they have for custom work in their homes and seemed to like the quality of the wine cabinet, hall table, and bench I brought to the fair. Time will tell but after the last fair I received three custom furniture jobs and also some repair work.
The item that started the most conversations were my sculpted work shorts. Here’s a LINK to the blog post about their history. I have to admit that when we went home on Saturday I was convinced that one person in particular would be back the next day to buy them. He was very enthusiastic about them and told me how he had collections of wooden items in his office. Unfortunately, my intuition on that one was off! No problem though, they started many conversations and enticed more than one person to come into our booth.
The other item that seemed to draw people into our booth was the hanging wall cabinet I designed. Diane suggested we put full bottles of wine and the glasses in it to really illustrate what the cabinet was for. She was right, I may have a potential client for a similar unit in a lighter colored wood — keeping my fingers crossed for that to come to pass.
Diane and I have a habit of asking each other what the highlights were of a trip, vacation, show, party, etc. after they are over and done with. This was no exception. Since we are both involved in creative activities and very supportive of each other; one highlight is hearing other peoples reactions to the work you create. There’s never been an outright rude person making negative remarks. Conversations usually included their own or relatives woodworking abilities. It was encouraging to me to have quite a few folks in their late teens through twenties express an interest in the craftsmanship and methods of the work I had displayed. I used it as an opportunity too, to let them know that I teach these skills out of my shop.
All in all, this was a worthwhile and interesting experience. Admittedly, being out in the public, carrying on conversations, and answering many of the same questions numerous times can be tiring. It’s time well spent as far as I’m concerned; the immediate feed back and potential for future clients is a great pay back. Once things settle down and are back where they should be I have a picture frame to carve and gild and just accepted a job to repair a teak chair that met a person beyond its’ weight capacity!