Saturday, June 19, 2010

Cape May Harborfest Craft Show

I didn't even know that the Cape May Harborfest existed until one of the coordinators emailed me an invitation because they were short on vendors. This lack of interest from vendors coupled with the fact that it wasn't an entirely handmade show were two warning signs that I chose to ignore. I was too hooked by the lure of more sales (and more respect from my accountant, who told me I needed to show improvement this year for my business to be classified as, well, a business) and found myself plunking down the $100.00 entry fee.

As you've probably already guessed, this wasn't the wisest of decisions. Harborfest was -- strange. The site was set off the beaten path of Cape May's signature Victorian mansions and pedestrian-heavy shopping district, tucked in the harbor near the nature center and Coast Guard. Although not favored by tourists, it was an undeniably picturesque spot (you can see from the pictures that my tent was set at the edge of a little cliff overlooking the water). Even so, the festival itself wasn't particularly festive and lacked that unmistakable artistic vibe inherent within more desirable venues. Again, I should have known this going in because it wasn't really an art show. But beneath my crusty pessimistic layer lurks a closet optimism tireless enough to keep me signing up for these things.

Sales were . . . slow. So slow, in fact, that neighboring crafters drifted into my tent to report how much the show had gone downhill. But they advised me not to cross it off my list because it was sure to pick up again next year. I'd met some of them at previous shows (it's amazing how small the local arts and crafts community is, and how quickly you become familiar with the other people on the show circuit). Their input was interesting to me, especially because I'm still in that experimental phase of trying out different shows and finding out what I think and, more importantly, what I like.

I sold a few pieces of jewelry here and there. Several shoppers complimented my work, as usual suggesting that I try my luck in a city setting where people were more likely to wear the kinds of things I made. I always have mixed feelings about this reaction, especially because I've tried to get into these types of shows without success to date. It's as if I'm in some kind of craft fair limbo - a little too out there for many South Jersey shows, but not quite out there enough for anywhere else.

But the worst part of the day was that I got sunburned. I'd slathered on the sunscreen before leaving the house in the morning but had never reapplied because I hate to risk touching my merchandise with greasy hands. Now, even as I write this, I'm nursing my considerable wounds with aloe. The bf said I was being silly to worry so much about it, but I can't help being angry at myself. Next time I'll wear a jacket, even if it's blisteringly hot.

So that's Harborfest. I've decided to chalk the whole thing up to experience. After all, even on the days when I don't make a profit, I learn something. Sometimes I think the most important lesson is learning how to work smarter, not harder. When I figure this out I'll let you know.

The next show on the roster is the Haddonfield Fine Arts and Crafts Festival on July 10 and July 11. It's one of the more prestigious shows I'm doing this year, and I've heard good things about it. As always, I'll be sure to let you know how it all shakes out.

My tent by the sea. Er, harbor.

Me sporting a cluster of Tote Trove barrettes from my own personal stash.

Me before I got burned, once again rocking my new Fred Flare sunglasses.

The bf. He doesn't like me posting pictures of him on the blog, but as editor-in-chief of this little operation, I put this one up anyway.

My exciting new Corsage Necklaces. I made them in a fit of inspiration this week, finishing the last one at the mind-numbing hour of eleven o'clock last night. I kind of knew no one would buy them but nevertheless felt driven to display them as a complete set. I'll list them on Etsy as soon as I can (my inventory's still out in the car) but foresee eventually delisting one or two (or, what the heck, all of them) to wear myself.

The aforesaid picturesque Cape May harbor.


SparkleFarkle said...

Cape May Harborfest! I wish I could go to there-- your treasures are grand!

How cool is this?! I just happened upon you when I Google-googled "Jack Handey jungle," looking up his jungle madness Handeyism!("If you're ever stuck in some thick undergrowth, in your underwear, don't stop and start thinking of what other words have 'under' in them, because that's probably the first sign of jungle madness." <-- You'd blog-featured it back in April.) As a close personal friend of Jack's (ahem), I, too, post a weekly Deep Thought, Deeper Thought, Fuzzy Memory, Deepest Thought, or Lost Deep Thought of his --and run with it!

Here's my this week's, if you're at all interested, and I know you are!:
Does Anyone Care for Spiced Lamb Shanks?"

See you there? Thanks deeply, SparkleFarkle~~~~~*

wreathmiccreations said...

Hi Tracy--I enjoyed reading your post because I love anything Cape May. Your tent and displays look great and all the bags look awesome hanging up. I love your new line of necklaces, they look perfect for the summer. There's another craft show in Cape May on the Promanade right on the beach in the middle of August (will be hot). The tents run from one arcade to the other and beyond. This year our vacation falls before and I'm disappointed I can't go! That one has tons of people attend but it is probably alot more than $100.

The Tote Trove said...

Hi! Thanks for reading and for the kind words! Yep, I signed up for the Promenade show and am quite excited about it! Cape May is lovely; it's been years since I took the time to just wander in and out of all those quaint shops and restaurants. Maybe I'll carve out some time this summer :)

Mark said...

Sorry you didn't have a more productive day at the Harbor Fest! I posted some pics of the Fest on my Facebook page for and I included a couple of you and your booth. I thought I'd share a link for you and the readers of your blog: