Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Great Show, Still Shuffling Pennies

The Bandon Cranberry Festival turned out to be a great show. The organizers, for reasons known only to themselves, gave this first-time vendor the best booth in the show.

I did not complain. My booth was the first thing people saw when they arrived and was available on three sides for customer browsing.

The first day was slow. I thought that this would be another "limping home" show, the third in a row, but that's not what happened. On Sunday I opened the booth early to catch people on their way to church. I made as many sales before the show opened as I had all day Saturday.

Then came the "I'll think about it" folks. I know that my price point keeps my work from being an impulse purchase for most folks. Most people who take a card and want to come back later won't actually be back this year, but some do. On Sunday, I had a number of people from Saturday come back to make their purchases.

And then there were the "after closing" sales. People showed up late to the show, ready to spend money and disappointed that most vendors were torn down already. I had such good luck with sales in the morning that I dragged my heels tearing down. I removed walls and folded up towels and scarves before leisurely packing up the expensive stuff. And it paid off. I had one more cloak sale after the booth was 3/4 packed up.

Altogether, this was a great show. And just in time too.

I arrived home to find that the other members of the collective have found a great place for us to live. It's a large, beautiful house in a secluded area with a huge space that has previously been used as a weaving studio. I'm not excited about the prospect of moving the studio again, but if it helps pay for rent on a home where we can all live, it sounds good to me.

We will need to come up with rent and security deposit on this place. This weekend helped with that.

And then there's the van. The drive home was harrowing, to put it mildly. I never passed 50 MPH except when coasting downhill to cool down the engine. I needed to accelerate slowly to keep from backfiring and choking the engine, and spent a lot of time pulling over so others could pass me on the long and winding highway 42.

Then, on the home stretch, it died. This was at the top of a hill on I-5, about two miles from home. The oil light came on and the engine cut out. I managed to coast to my exit, off the ramp, through town, and come to a stop in front of my studio. The added weight of the booth and inventory gave me the momentum to do this. It's usually not possible.

I put in another quart of oil, let it cool down, and was eventually able to drive the 1/2 mile home.

The next morning, I unpacked the van completely in case I don't have it in time for the show next weekend. I asked my friends in the area for mechanic recommendations, and headed off to Grants Pass, fully expecting that I'd be calling AAA to get me there.

To my surprise, the van drove all the way there on its own. The first mechanic was too busy and told me so, but the second one had time to make my van a priority.

I've never had a mechanic like this before. I told him what was wrong and agreed to a tune-up and oil change while he got a better idea what really went wrong. While I enjoyed some relaxing time by the Rogue River, he started the tune-up and tested everything that might be causing my problems. Finally, at the end of the day, he knew what was wrong and what it would cost to fix it. He walked me through it all with a flashlight before I signed off on the quote.

It's nothing major: loose wires, corroded terminals, clogged injectors, sloppy belts, worn out brake pads, etc. He'll have it fixed up good as new today. And it's not even that expensive. I was pretty lucky.

But it's not free. I'm glad that I finally had a good show so I can pay for this kind of stuff instead of biting my fingernails and praying that I make it to the next show.

Things are tight, but they're moving. It looks like we're gonna make it!


Lisa Rios said...

Happy to hear you made it home safely. It was nice meeting you at Cranberry. I bought a red shawl. You do beautiful work. Hope to see you again next year.

Pickyknitter said...

Congratulations all around! Yes, end of show sales can be some good ones. It is great to have a flexible booth / stock that is easy to access so you can keep selling until the time you drive off the site.