… sucks, really.
i guess my headline should be: – table fee + (takings + added value from stall upgrade) = profit \o/ but that wouldn’t be honest about my hopes/expectations and the fairly harsh reality.
if i was on a telly talent contest i’m sure i’d explain at length my “passion” for my product, my commitment to learning and transmitting the archaic skills involved in the manufacture of paper and cloth, and their combination into books. i love books, and people who love books love my books.
but selling my books on an open market is a big ask. if i had a flair for sales i prolly wouldn’t spend my time for preference stitching/cutting/spinning/weaving/gluing/dyeing textiles in my own company, to a country & blues soundtrack… i wouldn’t geek out over paper textures and weights… fonts vs typefaces… i wouldn’t need to use every single scrap – eventually…
but, yunno, glass half full 🙂
second test trading day was a bit of a wash-out. weather wasn’t quite as bad as forecast but still wet and windy. and with every shop in town running some form of “black friday” deal, it left the market as a whole a little slower than we all hoped on a payday.
but i enjoyed the chance to set up my stall again, and a few minor tweaks improved the display quite a lot, especially lighting and vertical display stands to show the books front-on 🙂
i survived my first fair!
still work to do on displays and lighting, but i’m happy to report a really successful day. i had interested visitors, people asking questions and for demonstrations, the odd unexpected familiar friendly face and massive family support 🙂 and i made some sales! 😀
i’ve worked in retail, but i had no idea quite how nervous i’d be selling my own work to the general public for the first time. there was a hitch with my planned layout as either stall or table measurements were out of whack, so we had to improvise on the spot. it was really helpful to have experienced advice from gill, the keyholder and all-around stall-enabler 🙂 i’m actually very happy with the busked set-up as it made the most of my rather minimal displays, was hopefully warm and welcoming and – most crucially – it gave me a quiet corner slightly out of the way where i could sit and stitch if the whole *being out there* thing got a bit much. once i’d settled in a little i came out of my corner and did my stitching in public 😀
i’ve been doing loads of preparatory research and i’ve not seen it addressed that – essentially – the person you need to please most with your stall set-up is yourself. not that you shouldn’t consider how things come across from the viewer’s side, but that you have to spend 8 or 9 hours a day in or around that stall, and making it comfy and cosy *for you* helps you to put your best customer-service face on.
so people didn’t approach the rack at the back of the stall like i’d hoped, but leaving counter space out the front meant i could pull out and display variations on a theme or range. i was really pleasantly surprised that what i’d been working on as 3 distinct collections (my complex bindings, kimono and peter hall books) actually worked really well together – so i had examples of every type on the front table, and i was free to mix up the displays for what was most eye-catching or colourful in situ.
i also brought my limited editions to the front table: moon, how things work and the inc. intro catalogue. i was similarly pleased by their cohesiveness as a collection. i sold a copy of the catalogue and had some interest in the books.
i’ve calculated that if i’d paid for the stall i would have made over double the daily rate in sales which – for my first show, on a monday – i’m delighted with. next up “black” friday – i had no idea what a good day that slot could potentially be. i’m relying on the (dangerously good) mulled cider peeps a few stalls up to get people in the christmassy mood 🙂
did i mention that i’m showing in london in december? did i mention that i got invited to show at the selvedge artisan christmas fair? did i <squeeeeeee> rather a lot? 😀
it’s going to take a whole load of work and advance prep for something i can’t research, and a testing display. but i’m up for it 🙂