Sunday, February 20, 2011

My first Outdoor Market... a valuable lesson

So I finally did it. I stepped up and bought a table at a local outdoor market. It was sponsored by a local consignment shop that specializes in local artisans handmade goods.
The market had been gaining a solid reputation in the area as a place to get unusual gifts and objects. The store itself is a lovely eclectic mix of jewelry, clothing, and even miniature welded coffins that weigh about 25 pounds.

I signed up in December for a space in the pre-Valentines day market in February. The first bad sign was that the post card the shop sent out in late January to its mailing list (AND email list) didn't show the date for the February outdoor market. It showed every other market date beginning in March, but MY market was left off in a printing error (and subsequently not caught by the shop owner.)
Despite this, and already having committed to the market and because I had already made about 25 new items specifically for the market, I kept moving forward.

One of the benefits of having signed up early for this market was that I as ALSO invited to set up a table the night before the market for our cities "First Friday Art Walk."
The first Friday of every month, all the local art galleries open their doors to the public. We have a surprising concentration of art galleries and private studios in the historical downtown area. Its an amazing night! Needless to say I was tickled I was going to be a part of it.

I made 17 new kaleidoscopes (a feat in itself! Each one takes 5-12 hours depending on the design. THIS on top of a full time Monday through Friday job...) I also made about 30 pieces of jewelry, and over 40 new ornaments (or "suncatchers," if you must call them such) and decorative wall mirrors. I was worried that because my items have relatively low profiles that my shop would appear bare. So I conceived of various ways to display the ornaments to add interest if seen from a distance. Shopping at IKEA just 3 weeks before the market, I discovered 2 metal racks in the as-is section that I instantly knew was just what I needed.
The 2 racks were part of an assemble-yourself wire drawer storage towers. PERFECT!

So the night came for the art walk. I rushed home from work and packed up my little car and set up my table in the lovely courtyard of the shop (blessedly less than one block away from my home.)I was set up by 5 and the event ran until 10.

And I waited.

And it got cold. REALLY cold. Like the coldest night we had had.

And I made one sale. A $10 necklace. (But the girl that bought it was so excited about her purchase that it made the entire night worth the effort.)

It was funny that nearly everyone that picked up a kaleidoscope shook it and held it to their ear. They thought they were like rain sticks or rattles. I made a mental note that I needed a sign to point out they were OPTICAL art, not audio. LOL!

The other displayed artists started to pack up about 9 when the temperature dropped to about 30 and the art walkers trickled to nothing. So, my brother came to help me pack up and then he stopped by one of the many wonderful food trucks (Short Stop BBQ) that frequent my neighborhood on weekends and he bought me french fries with Louisiana style pulled pork and bleu cheese coleslaw. I was a happy girl.

The next morning at 8 my friend Tommy came over to help me set up for the market. He brought Starbucks...bless his heart!

We set up my booth in a matter of minutes. Which was both a blessing and a cause of concern. It was indicative of how few items I actually had to display. The vendors around me were still still setting up by the time the first visitors were arriving at 10, their booths filled with stuff. Then I noticed that 75% of the vendors were vintage. Oh, dear, this wasn't going to be my crowd at all.

I made 3 sales that day, 2 of them to friends (thanks Tim and Veronica!!) who had stopped by to show their support.

We packed up at 3 (even though the sale was till 5) when there was a good hour where not a single person had strolled through the area.

On the plus side, I have LOTS of new items now for my Etsy shop, which I have been listing, slowly.

All in all, Im glad I did it. I needed to put myself out there. Next time I will be a bit more selective about the type of market I choose to sell. Now I have ideas galore on how to improve the visual pop of my booth. Next time will be better!

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About Me

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I peruse thrift shops like a junkie. I find such amazing things sometimes that I wanted to share them. I tinker with glass and a hot soldering iron as time allows. I have a collection of thousands of glass beads carefully selected and purchased with the excuse I will make jewelery, but I can't bear to part with a single bead. Not one!! So don't even ask! Ok, you can have one.