Monday, June 7, 2010

Tales from the Trove - Brigantine PTA Craft Show - An Adventure Close to Home

This past Saturday I did my first outdoor craft show of the year. I was excited. Nerve-wracked, actually. I had my brand-new tent banner, I was accepting credit cards via ProPay, and I was doing a giveaway to promote my Etsy shop. As the bf and I unpacked my inventory, I realized I had more items than ever before, so many that I barely knew where to put them. In my highly agitated state, I picked about a dozen petty and unfounded fights with the poor guy, apologizing immediately each time (honestly, the man deserves a medal). The thing about doing craft shows is . . . they're hard. You have a couple of hours to set up an entire shop, usually in oppressive heat (and in the case of this Brigantine show, merciless wind that periodically knocked down my and several other sellers' displays). And no matter what you do, you always feel dirty thanks to the combination of labor, heat, outdoor elements, and greasy sunscreen. Add the only-too-human jumble of anxiety, worry, and excitement, sprinkled with Type A perfectionism, and you have all the ingredients for a nervous breakdown.
Once we were finished setting up, the bf went to work (across the street, actually). I slathered myself with sunscreen. I took dozens of pictures for this blog and my Etsy shop. And then I waited.
One of my first sales of the day was this necklace. The buyer was one of my repeat craft show customers, a spunky lady with great style. "You should make earrings," she suggested. I told her that that was definitely in the works.

Not much later one of the bf's customers stopped by. She'd bought one of my charm necklaces at last year's Brigantine show and said that she'd intended to give is as a gift but liked it so much that she kept it for herself. She went on to say that she received lots of compliments on it, then purchased this heart and butterfly charm necklace for a friend.

As luck would have it, fellow EtsyNJian Doreen from Seahorse Designs,, was set up across from me. It was truly a pleasure meeting someone I'd known only from the email list! I purchased these two button and wire rings from her, and immediately put them on, as they went perfectly with my outfit.

Midmorning I called my dad to wish him a happy birthday (we were celebrating the next day). When I asked him what he was doing, he said he was on his way to see me! I was certainly surprised. We had a lovely visit, and before he left he purchased this Ladybug Creek Tote (even though I insisted it wasn't necessary).

I was thrilled (and initially a little nervous) to make my first credit card sale when I sold this pair of large totes (Electric Palms and Mandarin Magic) to a local couple who compared my designs to Betsey Johnson! Now, that was a compliment. Many Etsy shoppers had admired the Electric Palms Tote, and the Mandarin Magic Tote had always been one of my favorites.

Here's a smattering of the other items I sold. By the end of the day, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that I'd done pretty well, much better than I had at last year's show. It was a big day for necklaces, and kooky ones at that! I found good homes for both my Fruit Gel Necklace (made of pencil grippers) and my Calculator Necklace, two tried-and-true conversation pieces. I'd better get busy crafting some new wacky wares for my next event, which is Harborfest in Cape May on June 19.
Yes, craft fairs can be hard. Sometimes, in the less-than-stellar moments, I wonder why I'm not at the beach, movies, or mall on a Saturday afternoon like a normal 9-to-5 cubicle dweller. But then someone says something really nice about my work, or a little girl gets really excited about her new necklace, and I realize that all the trouble was worth it. And that I can't wait to do it again :)


mommysdream said...

Surprise! Surprise! I was at this show as well! So sorry I didn't know to come look for you...but I'm glad you did well and had a fun time!

The Tote Trove said...

What a small world! If my boyfriend stays the whole time, then I always walk around to see what else (and who else!) is there, but this time I was mostly on my own. But I'm doing lots of other shows this summer, so maybe I'll see you at one of those!