11 November 2009

Show #3

Finally...the North Shore Bazaar.

I spent just about every free moment from Halloween to November 8th making inventory for this, my first ever craft show where I would be the main event of my own table. This past weekend, I kicked it into high gear. Jason and I were up until about 3:00 am on Friday night/Saturday morning felting pumpkins and acorns. Then I woke up at 8:00 on Saturday morning and couldn't get back to sleep, so I started working.

I set up my display in the middle of my craft room and added to it bit by bit as the day progressed. Inventory, price tags, display pieces, business cards, signage, a tree branch, skeins of wool, and so on until I was finally satisfied enough to say I was ready. I put in 16 hours of work (which doesn't include breaks for food, talking to my mom about pricing, and watching a little Antiques Roadshow on PBS) before I finally fell into bed at 3:30 in the morning.

I knew I was going to have a round table at the bazaar, so I used a clothesline display for my aprons to visually break the table into two sections. This is my display as staged in my craft room:

You may notice the little pedestal mirror from blogs past, which has now become my logo and sign. I finally settled on the business name "A Happy Little Sparrow" with the tagline: Creations for Nest and Flight, because I felt like "Every Cool Thing" was just too broad and not picturesque enough. So I started an etsy seller's account at www.ahappylittlesparrow.etsy.com, a business email address at ahappylittlesparrow@gmail.com, printed up some business cards, and appliqued/embroidered myself a little business sign, which I am in love with and quite impressed by, if I do say so myself, especially considering that I stitched it well after midnight the night before my show. Way to go, Robin. Here's a close-up of the sign:

So Sunday morning finally came. I unintentionally slept right through church and woke up at 11:26 (34 minutes before I was supposed to be at the bazaar, which was 25 minutes away), because I foolishly forgot to set an alarm for myself. So I jumped out of bed, jumped in the shower, and feverishly started getting ready for the day. Thankfully, my late o'clock preparations included packing everything up, so I was able to get everything ready and loaded up and out the door by 12:17, and Jason and I got to the show with just enough time to set-up and finish creating a few pricing signs before it started at 1:00. Phew. It was quite the whirlwind morning.

Here is my display all set up at the bazaar (and me in my cute little rooster utility apron):

My total inventory included 4 wet-felted pincushions ($12/each), 73 acorns ($2/each or 3 for $5), 21 pumpkins ($8/each), 5 owls (ranging from $15-$25), 11 aprons ($25/each), 4 felting kits ($30-$45), and about 45 jars of apple butter, strawberry jam, and strawberry lemon marmalade ($3 for a small jar, $6 for a large jar).

There were about 20 vendors at the show selling all sorts of local and fair trade goodies ranging from pottery to produce and blankets to bags. It was pretty well-attended, and everyone seemed to have a really good time. And after only 3 hours of standing by my table, I brought in a total of 128 dollars!! I was so excited. On the way to the show, Jason asked me how much I wanted to sell. I told him that the show had really already fulfilled its purpose. I was ready. I had created a load of inventory. I knew now that I could do it. And that was worth all of the work I had put into it. I said it would be pretty demoralizing to not sell a single thing, but if all I sold was one acorn, I would feel adequately affirmed. So to sell that much at my very first show, I was over the moon. And on top of all that, I handed out a ton of business cards, received so many affirming comments, and even had a person sign up on my email list! So all in all, the North Shore Bazaar was a major success for A Happy Little Sparrow and made me quite a happy little Robin.

I did learn few things that I will take with me into future shows:
1) I only sold one jar of marmalade and one jar of apple butter, which was strange because my mom's jam is always such a guaranteed good seller. So next time, I'm going to try to elevate the jars to eye-level so people can see what it is and realize how much they would love some homemade preserves for themselves and to give away as gifts to everyone they know.

2) I need to wear sneakers to my next show. As adorable and comfortable as my boots are, they do not hold up to multiple hours on my feet, and my back did not thank me for my vanity.

3) My utility aprons are awesome. My rooster apron worked out SO well. It kept my money separated and organized by currency. My business cards were nice and handy in my cute little pocket. And it held a pen and notepad, with which I kept track of everything I sold. Check plus!

4) As much as I loved my display, I think I need to go with a simpler, solid table cloth next time so it allows my products to stand out more. I also need to type out my signs and use black ink so they don't blend into the colors of my products and display.

5) After Halloween, I need to gear my products more towards Christmas and less towards fall.

6) It is very helpful to have a second person along so I can check out other vendors, get something to eat, and have someone to talk to when things are slow. Jason was vital and instrumental to the whole process of preparing and helping me with every aspect of the show. He helped me with felting. He offered loads of helpful opinions. He helped me load and unload and set up and tear town, following my scattered instructions perfectly. He manned the table while I scoped out the other tables. He made sure I ate and drank something and sat down occasionally. He was so encouraging throughout the whole process. And he even felted a pumpkin during the show to demonstrate the technique:
7) And finally, one of the most important things I learned from the show was: I can do this! I can make enough stuff that people like and want to buy. I can create a visually appealing display. And I can talk to people about my products and sell them things that they like. And the crazy thing is: I enjoyed every single part of it, from design to production to display to interaction to taking their money to have a nice day. I really thoroughly enjoyed it all!

So there you have it. My 3rd 1st show. I have one more show lined up for this year: the Christmas Bazaar at the seminary on Saturday, December 5th from 9:00-2:00. If you live on the North Shore, you should definitely come. It's a show for students, spouses, faculty, and staff of the seminary to sell their wares, and I will be there with my aprons, preserves, acorns, owls, and lots of other little goodies that are yet to be made. So here we go again. Back to the ol' grind stone! :o)


  1. As a potential purchaser of your merchandise, I'll just throw out that in regards to things like jams and jellies and butters, I am that person who will pretty much ONLY buy those if: a) I know the person and know I can trust its goodness (i.e. your mom), or b) there's a sample. So maybe next time you could bring an open jar, buy some pretzel sticks, and share a little? Plus, it could help bring people to your table because everybody loves free food, and due to cultural and social norms, the majority of people will feel obligated to to look at your display (if they originally weren't going to), thus getting more time for them to realize how cute and awesome and adorable everything is. So, that's my humble suggestion :)

    Also, congratulations on your first show!!! I'm very proud of you and happy for you :)

  2. P.S. I love the name of your shop. It's absolutely perfect.

  3. Congratulations on your first show! It's nice to have a little success under your belt!! I'm very proud of you!!!

  4. Robin, I'm so proud of you! It's amazing to see this journey you are on as you're gaining confidence in your craft. I'm most surprised to see how much you enjoyed the interaction of people. It's nice to be affirmed, and I can only imagine people being nothing but complementary. I think it's funny how much all of us whined and complained about going to shows with mom, and how much we all love them and are a part of them now. Congratulations on your success! Love you!

  5. Thanks so much for the warm fuzzies, guys! :o)
    Much love to you!!