Gaithersburg Olde Towne Fest (September 2012)

Location: Gaithersburg, MD

Day of the Week: Sunday

Weather: Warm with a Breeze

Organization: Before the event, there was plenty of  information about load-in, zones, and directions to the event.  Staff was available throughout the event to help answer questions and help finding parking.  Parking for vendors was extremely close by; I could have unloaded (with a cart) from my parking spot.

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

Crowd Make-Up: Mostly families, primarily Hispanic.

Booth Fee: $70 for a 10′ x 10′ space

This was a good show, but not a great show.  I will probably do it again.  I have a feeling that the event will grow as time goes on.  The organization of the event was great.  I got plenty of information, was directed quite efficiently during the event, and there were no obvious mix-ups of spaces like you find at some shows.  They also had done a lot of advertising beforehand.

On the other hand, there was a definite difference between being near the food trucks (lots of people and relatively peaceful) and being near the train station (extremely loud and a much smaller crowd).  At least five times during the event, a train came through the fair, blaring its horn and rumbling.  It was impossible to hear or even think with the noise it made.  I know that the organizers cannot control the train, but they should not put vendors so close to it.  It really interfered with sales.

On a more personal note, now that the oppressive summer heat is gone, I am seeing a lot more bees in my tent.  They smell the floral essential oils, beeswax, and honey, and flock to me.  I love seeing them buzz around the booth.  I had one hanging out on my scarf for a few minutes even!

I know that some customers get scared away by them, but I find them soothing.  One little boy was in the booth with his mother and he saw a bee on the ground.  Instead of having my reaction (joy), he freaked out and stomped it!  Then, he and his brother proceeded to watch in fascination as it struggled.  I was horrified and heartbroken.  Here I was, welcoming the bees and enjoying their company, and he just killed it with no regard for its right to life.  It made me feel guilty for having drawn the bees over, however inadvertently.

At the booth I

First Craft Fair Reflections

Yesterday was our first craft fair and, wow, I learned a lot:

  1. Rain sucks, especially for soap.
  2. I need a foldable table with a handle instead of the monster banquet table I borrowed from my mother.  My hands hurt from gripping the metal underside.
  3. Wheeled carts for hauling all of the plastic bins are genius.
  4. Put as much product as possible on the table, people like to touch and smell and see things.
  5. Buy a pop-up tent for outdoor shows … again, RAIN.
  6. Get a smartphone credit card reader … impulse buying!
  7. Men and women, old and young, everyone needs soap.
  8. Bring more plastic baggies to protect the soap from the rain AND cute baggies with our logo.
  9. Don’t worry about the competition; everyone has a different market.
  10. HAVE FUN, talk with people, and stop stressing about sales.  Friendly, approachable people make more money anyway.

We didn’t make a killing by any stretch of the imagination, but we more than broke even with the cost of the vendor fee.  For now, that’s all I wanted.  I met a lot of great crafters, got good advice, and signed people up on the mailing list.

The next show is in a couple of weeks, and I’ve got a lot of work to do between now and then.  I want to experiment with some new soap, shampoo, and lotion recipes.  I want to add some embellishments to the products and packaging.  I want my new business cards and banner to come in the mail! Weeeeee soap!