I at least slept better on Saturday night, but that doesn’t mean I was glad to hear the alarm at 6:00 on Sunday morning! We didn’t really have to get up that early, except that we had to leave plenty of time for vehicular disaster.
We packed up all our stuff, had breakfast and checked out of the hotel. Lucy reconnected the battery and the car started! We were on the faire grounds by 7:30 and mostly set up by 8:00, which meant we had two hours to kill before opening time. I took a walk and checked out some of the other booths. I was looking primarily to see how other vendors had constructed and decorated their booths. Some booths were obviously done by professionals. Others were more makeshift.
Anchoring systems varied. There were cinder blocks, sand bags, and formed cement. One booth even used cloth-wrapped buckets, but they were much smaller than ours and not decorative at all. My bucket system was one of the few things I could feel happy about.
Back at the booth, I told the kids that since making money did not seem to be likely, we should just focus on being a blessing to people who came by our booth and try to show love to all of them. One thing we did both days was to pass out little tubes of bubble solution to young children who seemed bored or cranky. We still had some left over from Mary and Jordan’s wedding. That one tiny little thing created instant joy. I loved watching the look on their faces when they realized I was giving them for free. Then they’d run to a parent and say, “Look what I got! It’s free!” Sparkling bubbles would rise into the air and blow on the wind.
Speaking of wind, we had a lot of it on Sunday. The booth was solid as a rock, but paintings kept blowing over, as did our cork board covered with Lucy’s earrings and “Sheila,” our Styrofoam head model. We were in a state of constant vigilance because of the wind.
The faire opened at 10:00 but nobody came. This is the south, after all. Everyone was either at church or sleeping in! Vendors walked around visiting each other. My mermaid friend from the spring came by and I had her pick out fairy wallets for her adorable daughters who were not with her on this trip.
When there were still virtually no patrons at noon, I decided to abandon the booth for a while at 1:00 so I could go listen to my friends of Triskelion do a show. That was such a treat, and since the audience was so small they played many of my favorites.
Meanwhile, back at the booth, Lucy was feeling very discouraged. Her goal for the weekend had been to at least make enough to buy Mercy’s old laptop for $80, and she hadn’t even made half that. Jasper felt so bad to see his sister so downcast. He grabbed our basket of flower fairies (we had by that time already reduced the price) and went out into the highways and byways trying to get people to buy them.
By the time I had returned from the show, Jasper had sold 11 flower fairies! We sent him back out with some of Lucy’s elf ear cuffs and some fairy shillings and wallets too. Remember, he had spent the previous day befriending everyone. He sold a fairy to the faire owner, who added it to her headdress. He sold another one to the magician, and even picked out a “boy” fairy for him. We were so proud of him. He loved every minute of it.
A lady stopped by our booth and stayed for quite a while. She wanted to buy a muff but didn’t have cash and of course we had no way of taking a credit card. She is a civil war re-enactor and the more she thought about it, the more she liked the idea of having muffs to match several of her outfits. She gave me her phone number and wants me to call and arrange to make her some muffs. I hope it works out!
The highlight of my day was when my friend Angela and her husband Ray arrived. They live 40 minutes farther away from Texarkana than we do (it’s a two-hour drive for us), and they drove all that way to come see my booth and visit me. That meant so much to me. I have a host of wonderful friends, but virtually none of them are interested even a little bit in Renaissance faires, so to see a familiar face during such a discouraging time was a huge boost. We sat and chatted before they took off to see the rest of the faire, and then they came back and Angela bought a muff for a relative who actually wants one. So I sold 3 of my 6 muffs in total. Those were my highest ticket items.
During the afternoon I sent Jasper out to get us each a baked apple. The food provided for the vendors was not “faire” food and in fact most of it was stuff I can’t eat because of the gluten content. So I felt we should get at least one treat after all our hard work. The apples were delicious!
The afternoon crept on toward evening and there were very few patrons. However, we were starting to feel a little better about our experience. We spent two days out in beautiful weather and our booth was nothing to be ashamed of. Despite the fact that we sold so little, people raved about our products and that was somewhat comforting, because we thought that if people didn’t like our stuff they would just have kept quiet. Jasper’s tireless efforts to sell stuff as a street vendor resulted in enough sales for Lucy that she should be able to get that old laptop of Mercy’s.
We were also told that we should have a representative in the parade at 4:00, so we sent our little goodwill ambassador with the booth sign and a basket of fairies:
At one point during the afternoon the lovely belly dancers came back. Those ladies were all so sweet and encouraging. One wanted to buy one of Lucy’s paintings, but of course she was out of cash and we had no card reader! However, we were able to assure her that everything would be going up on our Etsy site within the next few days. She took down our contact information and said she was going to recommend Lucy’s work specifically to a friend that features Texas artists in her business. Who knows? Maybe something will come of it.
We actually had quite a few people ask for our Etsy address, so we need to really follow through on getting stuff listed. We will also be posting a lot of our wares on our Medieval Whimsy Facebook page.
After originally deciding not to get any sort of souvenir for myself, I broke down and got a beautiful circlet from my friend Sarah in the booth next door. She makes such lovely jewelry, and she had supplies with her to extend the length of the circlet since I have a really big head. Later, she gave me a lovely ponytail wrap. I had been admiring them all weekend and am tickled to have one now.
We started packing things up as closing time neared, and then when Jasper finally returned from his wanderings we left him at the booth and Lucy and I walked down to the parking lot so she could reconnect the battery on the car. Thank goodness, it started this time! It didn’t sound all that happy about it, but it started!
Again, we just kept it running while we took down our booth and packed everything up. The one drawback to my brilliant bucket anchoring system was that we had to figure out how to dispose of the water without having water run through other booths. The buckets were very heavy to have to haul across the road and to an area where they could be emptied. Walter says that if the buckets are full they weigh 80 pounds! We had them about three-quarters full.
Lucy and I changed out of garb for the drive home. I wanted nothing more than to stop at a real restaurant and have a nice dinner, but of course we had to stop at a drive-through and eat in the parking lot with the engine running.
We made it home at about 10:00 in the evening, exhausted but not really downcast anymore. Financially, I really took a beating. I made barely enough to cover the booth rental and the three meals we had to eat out. We didn’t even come close to covering other expenses like the booth itself, supplies for making everything, two nights in a hotel, and gas to get there and back. Not to mention the fact that I have a serger and sewing machine that both need expensive repairs now. Oh, I and still have to figure out how to fill out the tax paperwork and pay sales taxes!
We will be busy this week photographing and listing stuff at our Etsy store. In a way, it seems like we should try again with the booth because we have so much stuff that didn’t sell! And of course, the booth itself was a one-time expense. I have a lifetime supply of fairy wallets, it seems. I could have made only 30 and still had plenty left over! So, we are still processing the whole experience and trying to figure out where to go from here.
Lucy at the booth on Sunday