Location: Arbutus, MD
Day of the Week: Sunday
Weather: Sunny with a breeze
Organization: Before the event, it was fine. I did have to wait quite a long time for my confirmation letter, but it was pretty comprehensive. The day of the event was a DISASTER in terms of organization–worse even than the Anne Arundel County Spring Craft Fair.
Crowd Size: Large and steady.
Crowd Make-Up: Lots and lots of families. No pets allowed. Generally young adults with new families.
Booth Fee: $90 for a 10′ x 15′ space
I honestly don’t know how to feel about today’s event. On the one hand, it was extremely unnecessarily stressful. On the other hand, I sold over $400 worth of soap!
Let’s begin at the beginning …
Despite the fact that the festival opened its gates at 10:00 AM, vendors were required to show up to “be in line” no later than 5:45 AM. I live two blocks from this show. I really wanted to sleep in. When I arrived at the designated intersection, there weren’t any volunteers or event organizers visible. I went in a little further and met a man who told me all of the wrong advice. After ending up at the far end of the midway, I was told to drive back and given more vague directions. I finally found the person in charge of “row D” — a man who had us all park in a huge lot and wait … for over an hour. There was no “line” and there wasn’t any clear sense of who was allowed on the street when.
Finally, by 7:30 AM we were allowed to drive onto the main street and unload our cars. We were not, however, allowed to set up anything. We were simply supposed to unload our cars, move them to the parking lot, and sit there for another hour while they fought with vendors whom the event organizers had apparently double booked. One woman a few spots down from mine (more on her later), apparently paid for more spots than she was given (or misunderstood the size of the spots she paid for) and threw quite a tiff about it. She got all of the people around her worked up and the vendors were having it out with organizers all up and down the street. It was honestly the worst energy I’ve felt from a crowd in a long time. Do you know how sometimes people just exhaust you before they even open their mouths? This was that kind of angry, passive-aggressive crowd. I just huddled up with my book and tried to tune it out until we were allowed to set up.
By around 8:30 AM, we were allowed to finally set up our tents and tables. I’ve got the set-up down to an art by this point, so it only took me an hour (and that included walking all the way back to my parked truck because I forgot something). Good thing too because the crowds did not waste any time rushing in!
The shoppers themselves were charming and interesting. People had intelligent questions and got really into the products. Soap is usually hit or miss, so it was nice to have a ton of people who appreciate handmade items. There were a lot of young couples and young families. TONS of strollers. My neighbor (Sweet Pea Bowtique) was clearly thriving with all the new moms because she sells flower pins and baby headbands and all kinds of cute kid things. I even ran into my college friends/neighbors who just had a baby and someone from my congregation! Doing a show in my own stomping grounds was surprisingly wonderful! I should warn you, though: there is a beer garden, so I think the crowd make-up really depends on whether you are closer to the kiddie zone or the beer garden.
The wind was pretty chaotic, and the only downside to the main part of the fair. It kept blowing over my signs and knocking things out of neighboring booths. One vendor had a whole section collapse and someone else had a glass vase tip and smash. I cannot begin to say how glad I am that I bought the EZ Up Leg Weights!
Once the fair ended at 5:00 PM, folks started packing up pretty quickly and, once again, the place turned into a HOT MESS. I took my time; I never try to rush because it just stresses me out. When all of my things were packed, my neighbors were great and looked after the product while I got my truck. Since the street was chaos, I pulled onto the curb a bit. Without realizing it, however, I blocked the way of the “woman who threw a tiff.” Her booth was three-spaces wide and she had a small semi-truck parked in the alleyway behind my booth. I am pretty sure that the organizers did not know that she was parked there because they didn’t let anyone else keep their things strewn about. Considering that she spent the entire day acting as if she was better than everyone else, I simply moved my truck fully onto the street when she asked because I didn’t want to cause a scene.
Apparently she did, however. Despite being fully in my space and no longer blocking the alley entrance, she insisted that her large, wheeled behemoth displays wouldn’t fit between my truck and the curb. I tried to explain that it would only take me five minutes to load my truck and then I’d be on my way, but she wouldn’t listen. She tried convincing me that I should block the entire road while I loaded my truck, that it was what “everyone does.” Well I’m sorry (I’m not), but I try not to be rude and I think it is extremely rude to block an entire street’s traffic. Why should one vendor get special treatment? They shouldn’t. Everyone pitches in to get everyone out as soon as possible. Still, I scooted my truck up as much as I could without edging into my neighbor’s space and decided that I was done trying to make the miserable woman happy. She continued to shout-whisper about how I was extremely rude. One of the other vendors I’d chatted with during the event came to my defense, calling the woman out and they got into another shouting match.
So listen up, fellow vendors: whether you have one space or three spaces, you are the same as everybody else, for good or ill. Paying for three spaces does not guarantee you special privileges. It does not mean that you are better or that your products are better. And it certainly does not mean that the entire staff of the event should bow to your whim and ignore your flagrant disregard for the rules.
… rant over.