Last Friday was my first booth experience at the Downtown South Bend First Friday event, Dog Days of Summer. My interest in having a booth there was a last minute idea; I had visited the event for a few years previous and there were five or six people selling various things. Because of the branding of my business, I thought it was a good fit for the dog-themed event.
I'd be the first to admit that when I signed up for a booth, I wasn't 100% ready for it in regards to my supplies. I had gathered a few items for testing a few months earlier, as there's a downtown art fair later in the summer at which I will be a vendor, but I had not yet acquired a tent or tables. I was able to purchase a nice 10x10 tent from a hardware store, and borrow some tables and tablecloths. We did a few test setups in my backyard, so when the date actually came around, I was confident about the booth's appearance.
At the event, Kristen and I were able to set up everything beautifully. One of the advertised activities for the event was a scavenger hunt, where everyone participating goes around getting stamps from various booths and local shops for the end goal of getting into a raffle. This brought a lot of people over to our area, and when getting a stamp, we would ask them if they knew anyone who knits, crochets, or weaves (which seemed more encompassing than asking if they did so themselves), and if they said yes, I had a special coupon specially made for the event. Regardless of their answer, my next question was, "Do you know any puppies who like dog treats or tennis balls?" Their answers were always some form of yes, and we got to delight in giving many different types of dogs treats! There were many adorable dogs and puppies of all sizes, which added to the fun of the event.
One of the best surprises was a visit from Dr. Menk, who had been my choir director at Saint Mary's College, with her dog Hans, who has been immortalized in Fiber Hound literature. On the tag for my Dachshund yarn, I give a story Dr. Menk bringing him to class and how he would bark at the students who came in late.
Not everything went perfectly - while we had weights on our tent, it became very windy at certain points of the evening, so Kristen and I had to hold on to the tent and Bernadette (the mannequin) so they would not fly away or fall over. The price displays I chose fell over multiple times, becoming cracked and scratched on the concrete. These things and others, while unfortunate, were great to know as weaknesses; they are things that can easily be improved upon. Because of this event, I feel much more prepared to take on others, knowing what worked and what didn't.
While we didn't sell much yarn, I feel that it was a successful event. I met a lot of great people (and dogs), I put the Fiber Hound name out there in the South Bend community, and I learned a lot about setting up my booth at an outdoor fair. Even better, I'm now prepared for Art Beat, which should be a much more successful venue for selling yarn!'
Do you buy yarn when you see it, say at a craft fair? Or do you plan out your yarn purchases ahead of time? Can a pretty skein in an unexpected place sway you to break your rules?
And now for something completely different: