Sunday, June 23, 2013

Heated Tales From The Craft Fair

So far, 2013 hasn't been a good year for craft fairs. One was rained out. At the next, I did well, but not many people showed up -- which was a bummer since it was for charity. This morning's fair was hot, humid ... and kind of horrifying.

I signed up to sell my jewelry at a local church flea market that's not too far from my home. I'd passed the site many times and it looked as if they got a good crowd. The registration was inexpensive so I thought, "Why not?" and arranged to be there this morning at 7 a.m.

I had no problems with getting up so early on a Sunday, but it's pretty hot today in NYC -- about 90 or so. It doesn't feel too bad if you're out walking around or are in the shade, but it feels as if it's a furnace if you're sitting right in the sun. Since this was my first time doing this fair, I was given one of the worst spots, which had no shade at all. I should've brought an umbrella, but didn't.

The customers arrived early for this fair, probably because there are regulars who stop by every Sunday, and the crowd was pretty large. I could tell, though, that I was selling my goods in the wrong venue. Most of the other booths contained garage sale-type items (used clothes, worn jewelry, old kitchen ware) that were being sold for dollar-store prices. Not that there's anything wrong with this (hey, I love a good garage sale), but this was not an artisan market. People were looking to pay $1 for an old shirt, not spend $20 on handmade earrings.

Moreover, the customers were relentless in driving the vendors down to the lowest cent possible. I'm fine with bargaining, but I've never seen anything like this. One guy tried to buy a vinyl bag from the vendor next to me and was haggling with her over $2. Finally she said, "Forget it, it's not for sale," but he wouldn't leave her alone! He wandered behind her table and for literally 45 minutes kept going, "Madame, Madame, gimme, gimme, I want to buy!" She kept shooing him away and he kept coming back, going so far as to interrupt her discussions with other customers. I wondered if I should call the cops on him because he seemed to be a little unhinged. Eventually he bought the bag at the price asked, but wow....

On the other side of me, a man was selling fake pearl jewelry for $2. People were trying to bargain him down to $1. I was basically ignored since my stuff was way overpriced for this place -- and I charge really low prices for handmade, high quality items.

As the day wore on, it got hotter and hotter and I began to feel nauseated. A few people stopped by my stand, but none bought; one even yelled at me for trying to make small talk. I then did something I almost never do and left the fair early. I could see that I wasn't going to sell anything and I was just soooo uncomfortable sitting there in the heat. I hate giving up like that, but I couldn't deal -- and I knew that this wasn't the place for me. I would've stuck it out had it not been so hot outside.

I don't know why I've had such bad luck with fairs this year. Last year was productive, especially during the fall. I hope to find some venues that are a better fit than this one.

Meanwhile, I've decided that what I really want to do with my jewelry career is teach. I love taking classes and would like to pass along that knowledge. I think that learning an art can be very beneficial; not only is it practical (if you make your own jewelry, you can save money), but it can be relaxing and a great way to relieve stress. Right now, I'm still learning new skills and am not even sure what it takes to open a studio. But this is how I see my future. I'm tired of sitting around at fairs, waiting for people to show up. I want to do something that will be fun and will make a difference in other's lives.

Check out my jewelry at Naomi's Designs and MayaGirl Creations.

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