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Amazing Baby and Child Expo (August 2012)

Location: Sykesville, MD

Day of the Week: Saturday

Weather: Warm with a Breeze

Organization: Before the event, there was plenty of visible advertising and information about load-in, zones, and maps were provided well in advance.  During the event, some of the zoning seemed to get thrown out of the window (I was moved from Yellow to Blue), but things went pretty smoothly.

Crowd: Much smaller than advertised.  We were told to expect 3,000 …. there were probably 300.

Crowd Make-Up: Almost entirely families with young children.

Booth Fee: $125 for a 10′ x 10′ space

I am torn about doing this show again.  It was very well organized and the people running the event (Caring Communities) are a joy to work with.  However, the crowd was way too small for the cost of the event and there was no weather to blame that day.  I lost money doing this show, although less of a loss than at some shows.  I sold enough that it wasn’t a total loss, but some of the vendors nearby didn’t sell a single thing — unacceptable for a show of this cost and that was advertised this heavily.

Sykesville is a beautiful town and has a gorgeous main street.  I think that the townspeople would welcome more events here, but I do think that the labeling of this show as explicitly for “Babies and Children” scared some people away.  A few of the customers I spoke with mentioned that they came despite not having children, but that they felt a bit out of place. Others, parents, were disappointed with the limited offerings of free samples, rides, and games.

This show has a lot of potential.  Considering that there are shows with a much longer history who still can’t get the basics right, I hope that Caring Communities continues hosting this event.  I would suggest that they make some changes in either audience demographic or in offerings.

I’m willing to give it another try next year, but I will really need to see if I can afford another potential “lose-money” show.

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Fenton Street Market (May 2012)

Location: Silver Spring, MD

Day of the Week: Saturday

Weather: Sunny with a gentle breeze

Organization: Excellent! Lots of information before the event, porters available for hire during the event, and event staff throughout the market to answer questions.

Crowd Size: Decent crowd.  Not large, but steady.

Crowd Make-Up: A good mix of families with children and adults with dogs. Not as many elderly.

Booth Fee: $50 for a 10′ x 10′ space

Today at the Fenton Street Market, I sold more product than ever before!  It might have been due to the fact that there were only two soap makers there (a lovely lady from BEST, in fact), but I’m chalking it up to good organization, extensive advertising, and great weather!  I almost sold out of a couple of things!  I had steady business for the entire 6 hours and had nice conversations with plenty of browsers.

I showed up early because I wasn’t sure about the drive, but the event staff were already ready to go and helped me get set up quickly.  There was free parking for the truck (hallelujah!) and a nice porter named Jeremy to help me set up the tent.  It was in a nice part of town and we were surrounded by businesses.  I’ve never been in such a busy part of town.  Even in Annapolis, the streets were so blocked off for the festival that we didn’t get much random business traffic there. In contrast, today I met people who saw us out of their windows and on their way to do their normal shopping.

Once again, one of the vendors who was supposed to be my neighbor didn’t show so I was left with a beautifully set up booth and customers wandering around the side where they weren’t supposed to be.  It is so frustrating!  I always look at the map beforehand and try to figure out how I should set up the booth; and I always have to set up before I know whether or not my neighbors will all be there.  Inevitably, the customers don’t come in the front like they should, but go around the side.  I’m usually tempted to just turn the products around to face the outside, but then I lose a whole table’s worth of display space!

I added a few more items to the displays this time around.  I made soap balls out of the leftover Miel Citron bars and called them Lemon Drops.  They looked pretty adorable wrapped up in tulle and terry cloth.  I also finally put up a fragrance free sign.  Not everyone looked at it, but it did save some people the embarrassment of trying to smell the scentless soaps.  My corner display unit finally arrived and it was the perfect place to show off the sea salt scrubs.  Every time, my booth looks snazzier and snazzier!

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All in all, a great day!

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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.

First Craft Show – Loch Raven HS Craft Fair

For my first public appearance, I will be selling soaps at the Loch Raven High School Craft Fair in northern Baltimore, MD.  If anyone is interested in seeing, touching, or smelling the soaps in person, come on out and join us! 

Who: YOU!

What: Loch Raven High School Craft Fair

When: Saturday, March 24th from 10 AM – 3 PM

Where: Loch Raven High School, 1212 Cowpens Avenue, Baltimore, MD

Why: You can buy wonderful soap!