Friday, February 19, 2010

Retiring from the craft fair circuit...

I think I'm retiring the mosaics. It was fun for a while, but they are so fragile and labor intensive, not to mention semi-dangerous. I'm ready for my fingertips to heal, to vacuum up the glass shards, and move on. I am clearly the kiss of death for craft fairs I attend, and that fact was driven home astoundingly with last weekend's Champlin Women of Today craft fair. Total BOMB.

I had high hopes - this group has a history of highly promoted, well attended shows. They're big - 150 crafters, a whole high school gym. But clearly, the tide has turned on craft fairs.

In the week before I ran around like a chicken with my head cut off trying to throw together a bunch more mosaics. I finally got the right grout again (white, sanded), and since the show was just before Valentine's Day, I thought I'd focus on heart shaped photo frames:

These all came out really cute, I especially love the rainbow one. This is just after grouting, so they weren't polished up yet - I was very happy with the end product.

I was not happy when I stabbed myself with a scissors during the whole process, but that's another story.

So I finished all these guys up, wrapped each one in bubble wrap, hauled everything out to my car (2 tables, 1 chair, 2 giant art stands, tablecloths, signage, extra bubble wrap, all the mosaics including 3 giant wall mirrors...)Then I arrived at the school and hauled it all inside...

And it was all for naught.

My booth looked really nice, though I was pretty exhausted by the time I got it all up. My previous craft fair experience with aprons was so much easier - they're not fragile, they require little care other than some sort of folding, and they're much lighter than mosaics. Setting up these suckers requires muscle. The show had a lot of helpers, came around with a coffee cart, and I had a nice wall space so nobody behind me would knock my stuff over - so far so good.

Then I started to look around. And to get nervous. First bad omen: non-craft booths. Lots of them. Someone selling "the best pillow you'll ever own," a bunch of food mixes (probably Tastefully Simple), a chiropractor, TWO salsa vendors...uh oh. The line between craft fair and crap fair is so thin already, I'm hesitant to waste any time with shows that are all home party plan vendors.

To my right was a custom t-shirt booth, some of their designs were cheesy (a lot of puns and grandma-esque stuff) but a few were fun (sparkly - yes, I am a Bingo Queen at heart) and they made them right on the spot with a giant heat press. That was kind of cool - definitely a toy I briefly thought about acquiring.

On the other side of me was a very chatty grandmother selling..."a little of everything" was how she described it. Her words are nicer than mine.

I was across from a guy selling soaps, behind him was someone selling fabric purses that were cute but too small for my purposes, and the rest of the show was 50 people selling dish towels. Okay, maybe not 50, but I swear there were a ton of towels.

And no customers.

Seriously, no customers. Fewer than 100 people through the doors, in my guesstimation. There were a few sales (I saw those darn pillows in a lot of hands), but I'm not sure anybody made their booth fee back. Most of the people I heard from (including myself) didn't have a single sale the entire day. It was bad enough that people started packing up early, and the show organizers even pulled the plug and "released" us an hour ahead of schedule. Clearly it was a total disappointment for all involved.

For a split second I considered just leaving the whole display there.

Then I packed it all up again and headed home. I still haven't had the energy to unpack the car and get it all back into the house, so I'm driving around with a car
packed full of strange things. The whole thing had taken a definite turn for the DEPRESSING, so it's a good time to stop. I still like making them (though I don't love grouting) so it might stay a hobby - and I don't think my products were at all bad, I just had a knack for picking poor shows. Oh well.

Moving on!

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