Tuesday, October 23, 2012

It Happened At The Fair

via Mercantile Muse/Bates Mercantile Co.

Bates Mercantile Co.: The Pop Up Shop

This Saturday was time for us to put all of my previous tips in Making the Most Out of Fairs/part 1 & part 2 into action. This was the first craft fair I've done in years. I'm talking 20+ years. So, while being a marketing and advertising business owner in the subsequent years enables me to give advice from an unique perspective, you all know that things on paper can be a little different than in reality. I'm happy to say, that was not the case and that my posts on craft fair set up and my past experiences really up helped us quite a bit.

Last weekend, I did a test run in the kitchen. This was invaluable to judge the aesthetics of the what our booth would look like, as well as for space planning. Our kitchen was perfectly suited to the test run, as the shape and size were similar. If you don't have a space that is, layout a space with some tape, wherever you have a enough room. It really gives you a feel for what you'll be dealing with come set up time.

Thanks to the practice run I knew we'd have enough space for three tables to form a U, making our booth more like a real store that people could actually walk into, and using our space to it's fullest.

We used different storage pieces (an old ammo box, a bench, a picnic basket, etc). to give visual interest and add height to our space. 

Not knowing whether we would be against a wall created a challenge (next time I'll ask). I wasn't sure how I would display my art prints. Luckily, I was able to used clipboards on table tops stands (same stands that come with the new desk calendar) and that worked really well. I also have a vintage quilt ladder that I used to display them. The one thing I didn't like, was the fact that I had my archival prints in their plastic sleeves.  I'd have to run laser printer versions to avoid that next time, as I still wouldn't want the prints to get any finger prints, etc. on them from being touched or handled. I'd also like to find more frames that I could use for display. The large Grow Love print I had in a frame sold very quickly (to my friend Liz...thanks Liz!).  I think the frame presentation gives people a better idea of how a print will look in their home. 

All in all we thought it went pretty well and that it was worth our while.   I'm glad that Lori of BejeweledNH contacted me again about the fair and that we were able to participate this year. It was also fun having Gar there with me this time around and people loved his concrete castings and thought it was very unique. Most couldn't believe that it was concrete. It was also nice to get off the computer and talk to people about our stuff face to face. I think you have to do that now and then.

There were so many talented people at the fair, from sewers, artists, jewelry makers of all kinds, hair accesssory makers and more.

We were next to Eve who felted all day while she manned her booth.

Her multicolor turtle made me smile.  

I was amazed just watching the felting process. Eve was self taught. She also had an huge array of hats and scarves.

Lori, is the first Etsy person I've met offline. Finally!!!!  Go figure, I never got a picture of the two of us. Ugh. Hand to forhead. How silly is that? She split her booth with her sister. Their booth was so colorful and had such a happy feel about it. Their products - Lori's jewelry and her sister's art- really complimented each other.  Their display was fantastic.

Erica of LittleCutieCakes was the second Etsy shop owner I met in person. Yay, I remembered to get a picture (Gar is almost photobombing in the way back over Erika's shoulder).

There was another needle felter there. Her animals were so damn cute.

Their own little menagerie.

Lucie was across from us and she draws botanticals (flowers and fruit) with colored pencils and then has them printed into sets. Her work was really wonderful. She used to teach art but never had time work on her own stuff. She's retired now and draws from pencil with 'real life' botanical models, where I am drawing from my photographs most of the time.  She said it makes it challenging because she has to be quick before what she's drawing dies.

Can you see the pink tutu in the upper left corner of the picture? The girl at that booth just had a baby THREE weeks ago. So now she has a three year old and a preemie and here she was working the craft fair. God love her.  That tutu was the most gorgeous tutu ever. It wasn't tulle per se, it was very soft. She used 90 yards of fabric to make it. NINETY. When you held it up above your head and looked up, it was a big, beautiful carnation. All fluffy ruffles.

We met a man in the parking lot when we were hauling stuff in. He made all woodworking items like birdhouses, planters, feeders. He and his wife had a great system for moving things in and out.

We definitely learned a few things. Some we already knew like, concrete is heavy. Really heavy. I came up with the idea of putting Gar's small stuff into coolers. If it had been in boxes I think we easily could have had boxes that broke. It wouldn't have been pretty. Using the coolers gave the product the support it needed and gave us handles for easy carring. Oh yeah, a dolly of some sort is number one of the list for next time. We did a lot of hauling.

I'd also improve on our signage. Although we had Bates Mercantile Co. branding on each table, I think it all could have been a little larger.

All in all, it was a good day and we've been talking about doing others. I'm also thinking about pulling together a little Holiday 2012 Look Book, so people can place orders in time for the holidays.  We'll see if I can fit that in with everything else on my plate.

That's it from here today guys. Happy Tuesday. Mine started out with a deer in the backyard this morning. Not sure how Gar spied him when he was leaving this morning. The deer must have moved because when I looked out back, he was invisible to the eye until he moved a few steps. Like a ghost deer.

Have a good one.

Ciao for now,

PS- my desktop calendars were a big seller, which made me very happy. I'll be listing them in the shop as soon as I can.

PSS- Less than a week to enter this month's giveaway for $175 in handmade.  Show these talented people some love and enter to win. What if you're the name is picked? You're going to be so excited. BUT you have to enter to win.


  1. Replies
    1. Lynette,it was fun. All the vendors were so nice. And SO talented. so many handmade things to discover. one lady was selling jewelry made with druzies and gems and fossils and even a metorite! so cool.

  2. Where do you get the energy from Pam? You made me breathless just reading and looking! Hope it was profitable, as well as enjoyable! The booths here in the UK are too darn small for real arranging I'm finding. Must work on that for the next time!

    1. Oh Isobel, I'll let you in a little secret. We were pooped on Sunday. But we had so much unpacking to do and catching up with what we didn't get done on Sunday. So yesterday morning we were extra tired for Monday. Did I mention the concrete was HEAVY? ha ha. one celtic stepping stone weighs about 25 pounds.

  3. Cool. I've been thinking of doing a show but am not geared up for it yet. It's definitely on the goal list for 2013.

    1. It was fun getting back into the 'craft fair saddle again'. it really was nice to be out among people shucking our wares instead of just a computer screen. not that it isn't nice too....but sometimes you just need some facetime.

  4. looks like it was a great show! your set up was perfect...and I really like the shutter idea that was in the other booth.

  5. Wow Pamela! This looks like so much work but definitely worth it! Your space looks so great! Thanks for documenting it for us and sharing it here.

    Popping over from the EBT...

  6. Looks like a great day! Love your display as well as all the others too :)

  7. Sounds like you had a fun day and a successful show! I love doing shows and meeting lots of new people, seeing all the cool thing people make, and getting customer feedback. Looks like you meet lots of wonderful people and artists. Hauling things around is the worst part of doing a show, so find what is easiest for you and your back.
    Everyday Inspired
    PS. Get one of those coolers on wheels, then you don't have to carry them.


You comments make my day. Thanks for taking the time to visit Mercantile Muse and for commenting. I really appreciate it. ~Pam

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