Eric and I took my kids&knits shop, TheWingedWhale to a Girl Scout troop’s community outreach day out at a church in Havover, MD by Arundel Mills Mall on August 18. It was our first opportunity to set up a vendor table at an event. It sounded like a great event with food, crafts, vendors, scout badge work, face painting, balloon animals, a fire truck, dj, the whole nine yards! I was informed it would be a “SUPER DUPER” event by the organizer, with more than 60 vendors attending, an event program, etc., lots of hype from the organizer.
So, I entered production mode, made bracelets and last minute knits and stuffed animals, got the day off at work (cashing in on a little guilty accommodation after my over-100 hours of work and consequent work-related injury), and gathered set up supplies from my mom and Eric’s parents. I took out money from the bank to make change, shared the flier on Facebook, talked to some friends who apologized for not being able to make it out, and packed up the car. We drove almost an hour out to the location Saturday morning, talking and anticipating.
When we arrived, we pulled in the driveway and were greeted at our car by girls asking for our table fee, which we had already sent via mail. Then we met the organizer, who shook my hand and commented with some amazement that Eric and I were very patient — which seemed a fairly odd comment following a ten second interaction. We were a little skeptical because of the greeting party and the fact the location was significantly smaller than we imagined for over 60 vendors and all the other stuff promised for the event. Other vendors were getting upset because there was not clear instruction on where the aisles between vendors were meant to be, etc. Still! We’ve never set up for a show like this, so we figured it was all probably pretty normal and got our tent up (eventually with some help from three other vendors), stored the car in the off-location lot available, and set up all the goods we brought, and settled in for the event to start.
And so we waited.
My mom came by to say hi and check out the venue, but we only saw maybe four or five other groups people walking around throughout the entire day who weren’t other vendors or the few girl scouts present. Many of the other vendors packed up early in pretty sour moods because no one was around. It was about 98 degrees out with 99% humidity, which may have deterred people, but ultimately, it was clear the event had just not been advertised to the public. There wasn’t even a cardboard sign by the main road indicating that there was an event, which I’ve seen almost any other time I’ve seen an event going on anywhere, even for small events like this one.
Eric and I waited it out until the official 2:00 end of the event, but only managed to make one sale. By the end of the day, we only brought in a $2 profit, not counting the cost of gas to drive out there, so all in all, fairly disappointing. But! Now we have the experience, so we are better prepared for a proper show. We’ve set up the table and the tent, and found out what works and what doesn’t, what things we should maybe invest in, and that we should really put our energy into one of the larger shows, even though the table fee is higher.
We are thinking about the Great Frederick Fair– which we have missed the entry deadline for this year– the Annual Frederick Festival of the Arts and the Frederick Fiber Festival for next year. We’re also looking south to Montgomery County which has a number of art and craft festivals down near where I used to live, like the Sugarloaf Crafts Festival in Timonium or Gaithersburg, or the Rockville Town Center Art Festival next year.
All in all, not a lost effort and we’ve learned a lot! But next time, we’ll probably stick to the shows we know more what to expect in terms of turn out.