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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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Anne Arundel County Spring Craft Fair (April 2012)

Location: Crownsville, MD

Day of the Week: Saturday and Sunday

Weather: Saturday, overcast and rain.  Sunday, sunny.

Organization: Poor.  No communication before the event.  Chaos during the event.  No evidence of advertising.

Crowd Size: Small both days.  Lots of browsers on Sunday.

Crowd Make-Up: Families with kids.  

Booth Fee: $40 for 10′ x 10′ outside

Unlike the AAC Flea Market, which was fabulously well organized, the Spring Craft Fair was a disaster from start to finish.  I never received any confirmation letter and had to email the fair organizers to get any information.

When I arrived, there was no one to greet me or tell me where to set up my booth.  When I found a volunteer to ask, he got on his walkie-talkie and spent 15 minutes being told that I wasn’t on the list, only to discover that there were apparently two different people using two different lists who clearly never communicated with each other!  I felt bad for the volunteer.  Finally, I just asked if I could take the spot in front of the restrooms since that would mean more foot traffic and less time away from the booth when I had to go.

I was told to park anywhere along a certain section and then, less than an hour later, told that I had to move my truck.  The woman running the fair was a fascist about people driving on the midway and spent the entire day harping on the PA system.

There were four soap vendors and two vendors selling soap in addition to their other offerings!  For a crowd this size, one soaper would have been ideal and two would have been doable.  As it was, there were two and a half in each building and one (me) outside.  It was absurd, especially given that at least two of us had explicitly asked how many other soapers would be at the event and were assured “NO MORE THAN TWO.”

It was windy.  It was cold.  It was rainy.  There were no customers and, from what anyone could tell, there had been no real advertising for the event.  Most of the vendors packed up and left by 1pm (hence the issue about driving on the midway).  I stuck it out because I needed to at least make back my booth fee!

So many people ditched, in fact, that I was able to move my booth inside the building.  Lucky thing too — I just barely beat the afternoon deluge!

Sunday was a much more pleasant experience, but I made less than $50.  On Saturday, only the most dedicated shoppers came out in the rain.  Fewer people, but more sales.  The Sunday crowd was bigger, but had a lot more browsers.  The whole weekend was a colossal waste of my time and energy.  I doubt I’ll be going back next year.

On the bright side, I met a number of great vendors!  Since that was the only real thing to do the whole weekend, we all hung out and chatted.  Beth from Simple and Green was a treat and, if I had made a few more sales, I would have bought the recycled plastic produce bag she made!  Gorgeous!  Michalene from Michalene’s Goat Milk Soap was also super nice.  Soapers can be territorial little divas, but it was such a crap day for everyone that we ended up chatting.

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