December 8, 2009
Two Boutique Showings in less than 30-hours!
Well it's been a crazy busy week and weekend for Bead Up! I am just now getting to posting about the two Christmas shows I did this weekend because, go figure, I got sick as soon as we got in the car after the second show! This seems to be my luck, as it's the third time I have gotten sick after one of my shows... coincidence? Anyway, the weekend began on Friday morning when the Hubs and I got up early to pack the car with all my products, display pieces, and even a few pieces to work on while at a Christmas Boutique at a Catholic high school in the neighborhood. We were the first to arrive and were happy to see that they had given us the table nearest the door in a small-ish conference room near the outdoor cafeteria (only in California!). It was nice to have a whole two hours to take our time setting up and making sure all our ducks were in a row. Turns out the vendor stationed at the table next to us canceled at the last minute, so we were given another 8" table! Sixteen feet of table space near a door and against a wall all to ourselves - perfect! The people traffic started sooner than we had expected when the kids having lunch heard that there were baked goods in the conference room! My first customer, a high school student, bought 4 necklaces right off the bat! Next followed the mother of the gal who threw me the jewelry party back in October (who was also my contact person for this show - I don't know what I would do without her!) bought most of her Christmas presents for her kids - and herself! My kind of lady! Throughout the day we had lots of friendly and familiar visitors, including several of the school's students who are in my church youth group and our youth group mascot, Leslie the Kat, who also acted as a display holder for a necklace ;) Throughout the course of the show we made good friends with the other vendors around us, including a lady who sold Acai berry energy drinks and a woman who sold brittle. There weren't very many other vendors, though that thankfully didn't stop people from coming by to buy a cupcake and see what we had to show. I made the observation that about every person who walked by our table at least had the courtesy to stop and chat with us, and one out of every three people who spoke with us made a purchase. Not bad odds! The show ran from 1-7pm, and add that with the two hours we spent setting up and and hour we spent tearing down, it was a full day! At the end of the day, I made 4x the amount of the deposit I had placed to be in the show a few months ago, which totally exceeded my expectations. PLUS - we had fun doing it and met a lot of really great people. I treated my husband to dinner and a little shopping trip after the show and kept saying to ourselves, "Wow, what a great day!" The next day and Christmas boutique showing, however, was very different. I slept in entirely too long (10:30am - I was pooped!) and woke up freaking out over all the work I had hoped to do before this show - make a custom order that was needed by a customer from the first show by the next day, make some more necklaces to go on my art canvas/easel display, and incorporate some brass charms I have been meaning to use on a few necklaces. I of course first discovered that I was out of spring rings (clasps), which meant an impromptu trip to Michael's and less time at home to create. Before I knew it, it was 1pm and time to make the 45-minute trip to Redondo Bead (near Santa Monica) for our Saturday showing at a Lutheran School. We made good time getting down there, though were surprised with how small the venue was compared to all the rules and regulations I had to sign off on in order to even have a table at the show. Since the organizer of this show found me on Etsy, I didn't know anyone going into this one or even who I should answer to once we had arrived. After being mistaken for a volunteer (must be the pastor's wife look I usually have on my face!), we finally found someone who could answer our questions and show us to our spot. Turns out they had a measly 5 foot table (which I had to pay $20 for!) in the middle of the room surrounded by other tables - no wall to act as a safe place for our stuff, no chairs, no nothing - just wide open table space. This of course made me especially tired just thinking about the 8 hours ahead of us, but thankfully the cold coming in through ALL the open doors in the room were distraction enough (it's been in the 30's here in LA this week - we are all so confused!). We had to hurry up our display since we had to also move our car before we get ticketed for parking in the church lot (?)! A vendor on the right of me set up a 9-foot table of homemade cards and luggage tags; to the left of me a gal set up another jewelry booth, though hers was hand-forged metal pieces. The other vendors were just as impressive - cashmere sweaters and scarves, pearl and Cubic Z jewelry, homemade cookie jars, elegant down covers, even a skateboard vendor. It didn't take long to assess that I had one of the most affordable booths in the whole room - I was going to make a killing! The show started at 4pm. By 5pm we had to yet to make a sale (or even have any real human interaction - much less friendly than the day before!) and was wondering when the show would officially "start" - vendors outside were still setting up their crepe booths, the snow slide, and the Grinch photo booth (yes, they had a guy dress up as the Grinch to take pictures with the kids. They seemed more freaked out than enchanted, to be honest!). By 6pm we had yet to make a sale, even though lots of people had been walking by. As opposed to the show the day before, where most people at least stopped to chat with us, people at this show were just walking past and hardly looking at what we had to offer. It sucked, I am not going to lie. Felt a bit like junior high, or when you are applying for jobs or a school and the institution doesn't even acknowledge your application. Lame. To add to the odd-ity of the whole thing, I had a migraine from hades and the open doors letting in the cold weren't helping (even though I was wearing a sweater and a hat!). We finally folded and bought some food they were selling at the show, which was hardly a condolence to the headache and chill! I finally made my first sale to a gal who was singing in the concert that went along with the boutique, and another to a little girl who insisted that her momma buy her some earrings. The hubs enthusiastially asked, "So how are we doing?" Sixteen dollars and counting, friend. I think one of the main reasons people might have been reluctant to buy was because you had to first get a receipt from me for your purchase, and then go to a "cashier" to pay, who then stamp your receipt and send you back to the vendor, who then checks that you have paid and THEN can give you the item. Though I think it's great that this allowed people to pay with a credit card (which I of couse don't have the capacity to do on my own), I think this may have been a major hurdle in the buying and even shopping process. I still couldn't figure out why I wasn't selling, though. Each mom who walked through the room had a larger engagement ring on than the one before her, and her kids in Hollester and Abercrombie were running around with large bills of their own. It was very Orange County meets LA Beach life. The gal at the jewelry booth next to me shared that she wasn't selling much either, only one $50 sale, in fact! This wasn't looking so good. I was counting down until 9pm when the show was to finally end - my headache and lack of sales was making me want to crawl under my table and hide from the cold. Finally, the other vendors started packing up shop and also checking out other people's booths. As the Hubs started putting the merchandise away, one lady from a booth down the way came by and just started picking out things: "I"ll take this, and this, and this!" She bought 1/4 of my total sales at the end of the day - thank goodness! Since I was going to be paid by check later on in the week by the school for all my sales I had no "Wow!" moment when counting my money, only instead when counting my receipts, and not a "wow" in a good way. After giving 20% of my sale income to the school (which was my vendor fee), we made only half of what we had made the day before - and worked twice as hard! It was especially perplexing since I was the most affordable vendor in a sea of very expensive booths and wealthy shoppers. The gal next to me said she wouldn't be back next year, and I sadly agreed with her. Oh well! (this was the Christmas tree the venue set up for just the event - wow!) So what can we add to our list of "Things Learned" from this one? Overall - there is no science to these things! I for sure thought I would do better at the second show since it was in a very nice neighborhood and I had the most affordable items around. I also originally thought I was taking a crazy gamble on the first show at the Catholic high school because the vendor fee was very high - though at the end of the day I made more sales at that show afterall! I also learned to not go in with any expectations, including expecting your friends to come to these things (I kind of don't blame them!). Oh, and even if you have displays CLEARLY marked (ie, "Items priced as marked on back of each item"), people will STILL ask you where they can find the prices. It never fails! Finally, I must give props to my Hubs, who helped the whole time AND juggled writing his final grad school term papers on the edge of each display table amidst the craziness of each day. I heart him! So, there's the report. In the meantime, I have taken this opportunity to post some items I was saving for shows but want to now share with the Etsy community - they would made some GREAT Christmas gifts - click to see them on Etsy!