I spent the day yesterday selling at the Arts Festival in my hometown. It was an interesting experience.
I went into it knowing that there probably wasn’t a big market for my work, but I figured I’d make my money back and learn something from the whole festival-selling experience. And I picked it because I’d have help from my family and I could afford to not make my money back.
We had to wait on the street for a while before we were allowed to set up. It was longer I think than was planned, because we got an apology later in the day, but I didn’t have a whole lot of heavy stuff to set up. So while I was not happy to be awake and on the street at 6:15am, there was free coffee and my dad was with me and the people in our neighboring spots were really nice.
I started out feeling really good about it — my booth set-up came together and was looking like it did in my head (mostly). Not having really tried it out before-hand I was a bit nervous, but my frames with hinges and clothespins actually worked. I was a bit proud of myself on that one.
Throughout the day, the things that garnered the most attention were the two Smith-Corona typewriters I brought with me from my husbands collection. I had planned on propping up some paper pieces in between the keys, but it was too windy. In fact, my whole display had to constantly be re-arranged and fiddled with (particularly the frame) because of the wind. People kept either pointing them out to their kids as a piece of ancient technology, or commenting on them as they passed. Then there were those who were just confused by their presence. (One guy said “I don’t get it.” and another “Explain to me why this typewriter is here.” So weird.)
Early in the day, my family stopped by to say hello and my sister-in-law made a few purchases. Then occasionally a person would stop and look and then comment “That sure is different.” or “Interesting.” And then finally, a woman who does cross stitch came by and bought one. That was awesome and I met my goal of selling something to a stranger.
Later on in the day, a gentleman came through and stood for a moment considering all the work and then said to me, “I don’t want to offend you, but what are you doing here? This is actual art.” And I was elated. He started out wanting to by one, then two and then six. Then, instead of me firing up the Square and processing his purchase that way, he left and went down the street to the bank. Through all of this, I was alone in the booth. My family had gone back home to rest for a while and my husband, the kids and my mother-in-law had arrived, kissed me hello and went to get food. They came back just after my dream customer left for the bank. I was putting things together and marking down what he had picked out (and writing him a thank you note!) when they came back. My husband was cautiously optimistic for me. I think he was wondering if the guy was coming back. But come back he did and he bought three more for a total of nine!
It was seriously the best feeling I had all day (and I’m still a bit smiley about it). He snapped up almost all my favorites. When he left, I had to take one of the two tables down and this is all I brought home:
At some point after lunch, the crowd turned from grown ups who might actually spend some money, to teenagers who were just gathering in clumps and being rowdy and I hate to say it, a little suspect. Plus, people were again confused and started picking up and looking at the books and not the embroidery. I got tired of saying, “The books aren’t actually for sale.” So we packed it up a half an hour early and headed out. Plus, I was tired and starving.
It’s going to probably be my first and last arts festival for a long time. So much work, and I got lucky — seriously lucky. I have a kernel of a new idea brewing, so we’ll see where it goes!