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Fall Festival at Quarry Lake (September 2012)

Location: Greenspring, MD

Day of the Week: Sunday

Weather: Warm with a Breeze

Organization: Before the event, there was some information about load-in, maps, etc.  There was almost no visible advertisement on the part of the promoters, however.  They also spelled my business name wrong in all of the literature, even after I corrected them.

Crowd: A bit smaller than advertised.  Still, I had enough customers.

Crowd Make-Up: Mostly families, primarily Jewish.

Booth Fee: $110 for a 10′ x 10′ space

The show was a success, but I don’t know if I’ll do it again.  On the one hand, I more than broke even.  Not by a lot, but by enough, barely.  At the last show I did with Harris Promotions (in Pikesville), everyone lost money and it was a total waste of time and energy.  This show was at least financially worth it.

On the other hand, there are a ton of other shows during September, some of whom might be more well-run or more worth my time.  Next year, I may branch out.  I want to keep working with these customers; I just don’t want to keep working with this promotion group.

Honestly, I feel bad that the Jewish community of Baltimore is being offered such crappy craft fairs.  Both of the shows I’ve done in predominantly Jewish neighborhoods have been run by this same promotion group.  I don’t know if it is because the event organizers make assumptions about the kinds of products people in that community want, but they don’t recruit very many talented or interesting vendors.  I only saw a handful of other crafters there; most of the booths were staffed by big companies advertising services.  There were at least five different kinds of tub-replacement services, five different chiropractors, two or three urgent care clinics, several banks, and lots and lots of free junk.   Craft fairs aren’t much fun if all there is to do is make your way down the line and fill a bag with free lanyards and stress balls that will just clutter up your house later.  All day, my customers either complained that I didn’t have free stuff too or complained that there weren’t any other real artisans there.  It was kind of surreal.

I really just can’t get over the fact that they got my name wrong in so many different, frustrating ways.  When they sent out the list of vendors, I couldn’t find myself on it.  I finally realized that they had written me down as “Baltimore Bubble Cards.”  Now I can see confusing “Bumble” and “Bubble” (people do it all the time), but if they read my application enough to know that I was selling soap, why did they think I was selling cards?  I emailed to ask the promoter to fix the error, explaining that the word was “Bumble” because of the use of beeswax, honey, etc. in the products.  On the day of the event, they had clearly had time to fix it because then it read “Baltimore Bubble Crafts.”   So they changed it to “crafts,” but still didn’t fix the most important word in the name!

I get it; “Baltimore Bubble Crafts” makes a lot of sense … if soap was all that I do.  But I also quilt and sew, and I want to leave myself room to grow.  So nothing against bubbles, but it’s just not me.

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First Sunday Arts Fest (May 2012)

Location: Annapolis, MD

Day of the Week: Sunday

Weather: Overcast in the morning, Sunny in the afternoon.  Chilly in the shade.

Organization: Excellent.  Lots of information before the event and fantastic volunteers to help during the event.

Crowd Size: Big crowd in the main area, smaller crowds in Whitmore Park and City Gate.  

Crowd Make Up: Lots of families and Lots of dog owners.  Some browsers, but mostly shoppers.

Booth Fee: $50 for 10′ x 10′ in City Gate.

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What a relief to get to sleep in a bit!  This was the latest fair I’ve done so far.  Set-up didn’t even start until 10am!  How luxurious!  Annapolis is only a half hour from my house, so it really didn’t take long to get there and get set up.

I did have some trouble finding City Gate because there were so many little sections of the festival, but the volunteers were very helpful in finding my spot, setting up, and parking my truck.  The volunteer in City Gate even helped me take down my tent.

It was pretty chilly in the shade at City Gate, but I’m sure once we get into the full swing of summer, it will feel wonderful.  We didn’t have a huge crowd since we were off to the side, but it was steady enough.  We basically got what we paid for.  Our booth fees were about half of the booth fees in the main section and since soap has a pretty small profit margin, we have to be a pretty big operation to make those big booth fees worth it.

As always, I met lots of nice vendors and even saw a couple of repeat customers from the Flea Market series.  Several customers even knew about Neem oil , which was a surprise.  Since most soap makers avoid its horrible smell, I don’t think most people have heard of it.  The folks I met who had were either of Indian descent or were in the skincare industry themselves.

The new Lemongrass Ginger lotion bars were a big hit.  They were probably the most universally liked.  I sold out of several products for the first time too!  It was, all in all, a very exciting day.