Last summer Husby and I made a couple of appearances at Marketfest in White Bear Lake. As usual we made aquaintences with our booth neighbors. They sold those little wooden croaky frogs and also flowy, brightly-colored clothes for women.
Fast forward a couple of months ~ we were visiting the Minnesota State Fair and in the International Bazaar were the croaky frog/flowy clothes people with their croaky frogs and flowy clothes. Wow, I thought. The Minnesota State Fair! We were hobnobbing with famous people! (Because if you have a booth at the fair you're probably pretty famous, or so is my opinion.) Of course we went up to them to say hello, and I gushed all over them, impressed that they were selling their wares at the best venue in the state. You've got such a good location, and you must have a blast working here, I said to the woman. She was nonplussed and responded, "well, it's a job."
? ? ?
This is the time of year I start looking for and applying to shows, festivals, and events around Minnesota and Wisconsin. I always have such high hopes for the new season of selling in person. Husby usually accompanies me on these stints as my roadie and back-up sales person when I'm otherwise indisposed. One thing I've learned after years of doing in-person shows...it's not worth putting out the time and money if it isn't fun.
If a show has lots of cool vendors and an attentive and accomodating host, the potential for fun is there. If the show has high attendance there is more potential for fun, assuming you actually like interacting with your own species. Most importantly, if you have some kind of emotional investment in the wares you sell, you won't be able to help but have fun when all the customers ooh and ah over them.
I'm toiling over all the possible venues at which I could sell this year. Of course I have some favorites to which I'll return, if they accept my application. There are also some venues I've previously visited as a shopper and know they would be worth a try as a vendor. There are still other venues I'm going to walk into cold, choosing simply by the description in an art fair publication.
But the thing is, I don't want to turn out like croaky frog/flowy clothes people who approach these shows as "just a job." I was telling my friend Charlotte about some of the shows I'm applying to and she said, "they sound like little vacations, and you make money too!" Yep, that's the idea. Sure it's great if you can make a big pile of money by selling your handmade things, but in the end the things you talk about, the stories you share, are all about experiences and people you meet. That's why I think getting out and selling in person is so important ~ having face-to-face contact with your customers is invaluable. Meeting a bunch of people who are doing the same as you, putting themselves out and selling what they make, is interesting and great for networking. If the make-big-money attitude is held in check and the relax-and-have-fun attitude takes control, you can't help but create experiences you'll talk about for a long time.
So here I go, diving into the applications. Be sure to keep checking the 2011 Events page on the sidebar of this blog. I'll add my in-person venues as the acceptance letters arrive. You can bet they'll all be fun!