Sunday, November 13, 2011

"The Big One" craft show in Minot, ND

This evening I just finished up 11 of my books and they are ready to send out to their (hopefully) adoring new owners. Today, while at my sister's house, I created a few hundred bookmarks that are now ready to laminate. I am gearing up for my next two shows and getting orders out from the last show. Then I remembered that my Mom told me she was disappointed that my last post did not go into more detail about The Big One last weekend. Ok Mom, here ya go.

In late September (I think) sometime I decided to give the people at The Big One a call to see if a) they still had any booths available and b) what it would take for me to get into this show because it is juried. For those of you who do not know, a juried show usually requires that you bring or send in examples of items that you create and sell. Those in charge of the show then scrutinize your items and decide among themselves if they wish for you to participate in their craft show. That made me so nervous, just thinking about people sitting together in a room picking apart my creations! Oi! In fact, I had considered applying for the show mid-summer, but decided against it because of the entry fee ($120) and the fact that it was juried. Well, I gave them a call anyway, last minute (in my opinion) and all. After speaking with the gentleman in charge I learned that they did, indeed, have a few spaces still available. He hesitantly asked what I make, fully expecting me to say "jewelry". If that would have been the case I would have been turned down because they had so many jewelers this year. When I explained to him that I make laminated magnetic bookmarks and laminated children's educational books he got very excited! I asked if I should bring in samples of my work and he said it was not necessary at all and mailed me an application that afternoon. When I filled out the application I did give them my etsy shop address, just in case they wanted to check it out.

Not a week after I sent in my application I got a letter back with my booth number, instructions, and information. My first thought was "woohoo!". My second thought was "what did I get myself into?!?!" I had been to two VERY small craft shows up until that point, and while I did fairly well I knew instantly that I did not have enough product to make it through this large craft show. I got to work immediately, making bookmarks like a crazy person. Life happened and about 2 weeks before the show I got terribly sick. Awful. Horrendous. I was so sick! I lost a week's worth of prep time and the kids got sick too. Blah!

After I came into the recovery phase of my sickness I got the idea that instead of my books being strictly made-to-order I would make a few ready to sell books with me. A few turned into 20, and 'just a few more bookmarks' turned into hundreds more bookmarks. I had bookmarks and books overtaking our itty bitty trailer! Well, they are pretty small, so maybe not overtaking. Still, it was a lot more product than I have ever had on hand.

When the first day of the show came I met my sister in Berthold (20 minutes from Minot) because she had graciously offered to take the boys overnight and deliver them back to me in Minot the next evening. How awesome is that?! After dropping the kiddos off I made it into town, ran a few last-minute errands, and got to the fairgrounds. When I saw how HUGE the building was I nearly ran away! There were so many booths and vendors it was insane! After a lot of huffing and puffing I got my stuff to my booth. After looking at the other vendors' booths I realized that I had very few things to haul around, and for that I was very thankful. 15 minutes later I was all set up and ready to do business. Things were slow at first; a lot of lookers, a few that asked me about the bookmarks, but no purchases. I was not too worried because a lot of people walk around and check everything out before they pull out their wallets. I did start to get worried when the lady next to me had gotten 5 or 6 sales and I was still at 0.

Things started picking up about 45 minutes after they started and they did not slow down the rest of the day! My friend and co-worker, Sasha, came by to allow me a potty break and to hang out for a bit. I loved spending that time with her and greatly appreciated the help. My friend Laura also came by to help for a bit. You will hear more about this wonderful woman in a future post. I feel so blessed to have friends who are willing to take the time to help me; you all mean the world to me!

Friday was hectic and crazy, but according to the other vendors Saturday was the big sales day. As things began winding down Friday evening I started looking over my inventory. I had sold 15 of the 20 books and probably 65-70% of the bookmarks I had taken with me. I had some more bookmarks ready to put the magnets on, so I sat down at every possible moment and put those together. The adhesive needs to cure overnight, so I knew they would be ready by morning. I finished up 80 bookmarks Friday evening and hoped it would be enough!

Ahh! I might have screamed a bit. But only just a little. Maybe.

I went home, slept, got up 20 minutes late, made it there, got set up on time, and prepared myself for another day. I cleaned up the bookmarks I had completed the prior evening and put them out on display. I tried to make may my now-sparse book table look more appealing, which never really worked. I processed some sale, took a few orders for books, and thanked God that my sister in law Ancela was kind enough to come in and spend nearly the entire day helping me! She is such a natural, honest saleswoman that I probably owe more than one sale to her! Thanks Ancela!

Saturday actually ended up being much slower than Friday. The news had predicted a snow storm on Saturday that was to bring between 3" and 6" of snow, so that may have been why. Or it might have been the beautiful weather and perfect blue skies. Darn those weathermen! One neat thing about Saturday was the fact that I had several repeat customers from the day before. Some wanted one more bookmark, some wanted a few more, and a great many brought their friends to check out the booth. Many of those friends made purchases as well. I love networking! And I love that the customers seemed happy with their purchases enough to encourage friends to purchase items from me as well.

I did make it through Saturday with inventory to spare, though I was worried until about noon. I made just over $500 too, which was nice. I am still in shock at how well I did. It fills me with great pride to know that I DID THAT! I MADE THOSE! I CREATED THAT PROCESS! I love my job!

After the show Ancela and I met up with Bobbie, Tom, and the boys at the Hibachi Grill for Chinese food, my treat. It was awesome! I went home Saturday night a very content woman with a head full of ideas on how to expand my business. I cannot wait to act on some of those ideas!