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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Pikesville SummerFest (June 2012)

Location: Pikesville, MD

Day of the Week: Sunday

Weather: Hot and humid

Organization: Before the event, things seemed fine.  I received confirmations well in advance and received emailed directions and maps the week of the event.  During the event, none of the vendors were in their assigned places and I was told to “just take that one.”  There also seemed to be NO advertising or press beforehand.

Crowd Size: Small and sporadic

Crowd Make-Up:  Primarily families.  Predominantly Jewish.  Make sure any products you offer are kosher.

Booth Fee: $110 for a 10′ x 10′ space

This is a show I will probably never do again.  I lost money today.  For $110, I expect the organizers to do most of the legwork in terms of advertising and promotion.  From speaking to customers, it was clear that nothing was announced, even in the neighborhood in which it took place!  The few customers I had said that they didn’t know anything was going on until they left their houses and heard the music.

Rather than being in my assigned spot, I ended up right next to the stage and the music was LOUD.  I had to shout in order to talk to customers, which was completely unacceptable.  The acts were good, but extremely distracting.  I ended up putting up my walls to try to block what little sound I could (it didn’t really work). Then, because it was that kind of day, my neighbor on that side had a large display fall down into the sidewall and puncture a hole in it.  SIGH.

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From the look of things, most people were there to try free samples and listen to music, not to buy anything.  Having samples and give-aways are great, but they do tend to attract the non-buying crowd.  I don’t know if I can really blame the crowd though, there simply weren’t enough people to begin with.  It was just way too darn hot.