Saturday, July 12, 2008

I Think I'm Getting Better At This

I rigged for a storm this morning at farmer's market. Gallon jugs of water, otherwise known as 8 pound weights, were attached to each corner of the canopy with bungie cords. Another bungie cord attached the apex of the easel to the canopy strut, so it couldn't tip over. And the framed print displayed on the easel was tied to it in back. And I reconfigured my table lay-out to put everything under cover - which kept it safer, but left me sitting outside and may have reduced the chances of my display catching the eye of a potential customer. Still, I was proud that things seemed fairly stable and secure when the wind kicked up. (A hand-painted gazing globe on the other side of the market hit the ground about 10:30 and made a spectacular crash.) I still need to find a way to keep my spinner rack from tipping over and dumping cards everywhere, but I'm too lazy to bother with miniature sand bags. Maybe I'll just buy a few 2 pound bags of dry beans and knit covers for them.

But after all that, I sold very little today. The traffic was lower due to the constantly threatening weather, which probably had a lot to do with it. The baby hats certainly caught a lot of attention, with dozens of people over the course of the morning calling out variations of, "Oo, Harriet, look at the adorable little caps! Do you think this one would fit Baby Betsy?" But none of them actually had the baby in question with them, and none wanted to take a chance without a test fitting. Likewise, my shed window image (on display on the easel as an 8" x 10" print, matted and framed out to about 12" x 15") enticed a lot of strollers to stop and admire it - but no money was in danger of changing hands.

So, I made my gas money and a little more. And I built up my potential return customer base for future weeks. And I did a service to the vendor community, showing up when several vendors apparently looked at the forecast and decided to sleep in. (And it really is a little community. We all chat back and forth, watch each other's wares during restroom and snack breaks, and generally have some pretty good camaraderie going.

Speaking of which, did I tell you the rest of the story about the little old lady with the hand-knit children's cabled sweaters? I struck up a conversation with her two weeks ago and discovered she was from the cider orchard 3 miles southwest of my house. I was there with my Dad and kids once about 2 years ago for cider, and on an impulse I took the picture you see at left. So as I'm chatting with her, I pop back to my booth, grab my book, and show her this print. She was floored. It turns out that she lost her husband over the winter, and this was his bench. He used to sit on it most summer evenings after coming in from the fields, sip on a beer and contemplate the day. She says those pumpkins weren't meant as a display - he just used to put them up there to dry after washing the field mud from them. She came back to my booth twice over the course of the morning to show the print to her daughters and exclaim over how pretty "Daddy's Bench" looked. So I had another print made and gave it to her today as a modeling fee. Any time I can make someone that happy by spending a couple of bucks in printing costs (and for just showing up) - that's a good day.

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