What to say? If you are on the north side of metro Detroit and don’t mind driving to Flint, want to meet the sweetest people ever, and want to connect with some great customers, you should definitely check this one out. For a mid-summer market, Shabby Sundays at the Barn was steady, laid-back, and fun.
Here are the major details:
The market sets up in front of the Not 2 Shabby Red Barn in Flint, MI. It was about a 35 minute drive for me, pretty much straight up I-75 (I may have been speeding a little). Market hours are from 10-5, and, like with the Auburn Hills show, there aren’t really assigned spots, though I get the feeling that the regulars have their places that they like to be. I was the new kid at this show, but everyone was so nice, helpful, and welcoming.
Spots on the grass are $25, and there are limited spots on the porch available for $35. The show is promoted on Facebook, through word of mouth (the barn has some VERY loyal followers—more on that later), and with a ton of signs out front.
I feel like people are more familiar with craft shows than they are with vintage markets, so I quickly want to talk about some of the similarities and differences, just so everyone knows why I call some shows craft shows and others markets or vintage markets.
Craft shows usually have a wider variety of merchandise. They almost always claim to be “juried,” which just means that they are (usually) careful to weed out any applicants that intend to bring manufactured goods, accepting only artisans who craft their wares by hand. That’s why they will often ask for a detailed description along with photos—a jury of the organizers will then sit down and go through your work to decide if it’s right for the show (again, usually). When I started doing shows, I felt a little bit like a unicorn—no one else was really doing furniture—arts and crafts shows I went to were dominated by jewelry, garden art, signs, sewn goods, art, and stone/glass work. Honestly, I sometimes feel like my work isn’t a good fit for some of the shows I do, but I keep getting accepted and customers consistently say that our booth is the cutest and that they love the work we’re doing. So that makes me feel okay.
Again, these shows tend to weed out manufactured goods (often, I think they do a better job than a lot of the big juried shows), but they accept a much narrower band of products. It is almost always limited to home décor, furniture, and antiques—they might accept quality sewn goods, jewelry, or soap/candles on a limited basis, but there are usually only one of each of these types of vendors, and their aesthetic often fits in very well with the feel of the rest of the show (think booths that use antique crates to display their goods). The best vintage markets are usually a little farther out in smaller towns (Junk in the Trunk in Richmond was killer for us in the spring this year) where the climate is a little less saturated with this type of event, and they are often associated with established antique or furniture stores. I’ve generally had better success with vintage markets than I have with craft shows, with a couple of exceptions.
Here is my Shabby Sundays booth alongside a typical craft show booth set up, just for a little bit of a visual (typically I bring my re-done painted furniture to a craft show, where I’ll bring more primitives and antiques to a vintage market):
Let’s get back to Shabby Sundays at the Barn.
Back in May, I saw the event on Facebook and marked “interested”—I knew that I was going to be free that day and thought that going shopping at a new market would be a fun, relaxing thing to do right after Summerfest. HA! That’s super funny, right? Me, relaxing.
Thursday night as I was getting ready for Summerfest, I saw a post on the Shabby Sundays market page saying that three vendors had cancelled last minute and that they were looking for people to come and bring furniture. Obviously, I had to try the market for myself. I probably should have just gone to shop, because I found a ton of things that I would have totally bought if I’d had room for them (then again, it’s probably good that I didn’t go to shop, because I have NO space in my garage!).
I packed up at Auburn Hills at 10 p.m. on Saturday, and then Sunday morning printed out the contract for Shabby Sundays, wrote the check, unpacked my car from Auburn Hills, packed it up again for Shabby Sundays, and then packed up my mom’s car when she arrived to follow me up.
It was freezing out that morning (thanks, Michigan), so I was wearing a sweatshirt and pants. We were about to pull out of the driveway when I decided that I’d better grab some shorts just in case it got hot, and then I had to run back in again after I’d gotten the other clothes when I realized I didn’t have the receipt book with me. Do you think that either of those times I remembered to grab the check and contract from the kitchen counter where I had put it by the back door so I wouldn’t forget it? No.
I didn’t realize this, however, until we were past Great Lakes Crossing, at which point there was no way we had time to go back. I said a quick prayer that Kelly was cool and would maybe have a blank contract on hand that I could sign and wouldn’t mind if I gave her cash for the spot (sometimes places can be super strict about this, but I figured since I was a last minute addition that it might be more flexible).
When we got to the barn, there was a lot of chaos with people setting up last minute, and the parking attendant, Melvin, had us park for a few minutes while he figured out where we were going to go. I ran inside to try and figure out the contract situation. There was no blank contract, but Kelly immediately came around the counter, gave me a hug, and said she was so glad that I could make it and not to worry about the contract in the slightest. Didn’t I tell you these were the sweetest people ever?
So here are my reasons for loving this market:
- The owners, Kelly and Don, are awesome: I mentioned before that the barn has a loyal following, and everyone I talked to as we were waiting for the market to begin had only good things to say about Kelly and her husband, Don, who did a great job cooking hot dogs and entertaining everyone throughout the day (he even brought me a mimosa during set-up! I was wearing my “Coffee till Cocktails” sweatshirt). I had kind of already gotten that after she hugged me within the first two minutes of meeting me, but it was so nice to be in an environment where basically everyone had a positive and helpful attitude towards each other and the organizers of the event. This definitely isn’t something that just happens or happens all the time. But it wasn’t just the vendors who loved Kelly and Don—I have no idea how many customers came into my booth throughout the day that seemed to know Kelly on a personal level, had been a customer for years, and had only glowing and lovely things to say about her. Talk about a great role model for customer service and general nice-personness.
- Free (actual) food: The contract said that free food would be available for vendors throughout the day, but Don was actually cooking hot dogs for EVERYONE, and there were chips, sodas and water bottles out all day, too. It’s always nice when there is food available at a show, but it’s usually bags of chips, granola bars, some Twizzlers, and maybe a cooler of water that runs out about halfway through the day. At Shabby Sundays, Don didn’t stop grilling until close to 5, water was out all day, and he even brought me a Zima around 3, because apparently the mimosa just wasn’t generous enough. I had never had Zima before, but Lorelai Gilmore got pretty excited about it in that episode right after she got engaged to Luke, so I had to try it. It was pretty good.
- The cost is only $25: Vintage markets are typically under $50, which is a big reason why I love them, and also a big reason why I say I tend to do better—even if I have a slow day, my profit margins are still generally pretty high, even compared to a busy day at a big craft show that I paid $200+ to get into. My average sale was back up to around $25, and I did about as well at this show in one day as I did in Auburn Hills in two. Again, for a summer market, that’s a win.
- The general attitude of vendors/organizers was just so nice: As we were talking during and after the show, Kelly and the other vendors were up front about this being a pretty slow show compared to the spring and fall, which is typical of summer markets. Even still, it was easy to tell that the customers and vendors supported Kelly and the market and that the loyal ones would come to pretty much anything she hosted. “I’ve known Kelly for years,” was a pretty common refrain from the customers, as well as “When I saw they were doing this again, I knew I HAD to be here.” These are always good things to hear as vendor, because it gives you the confidence that not only have the organizers done everything they can to make the event successful, but that they’ve also done business over the years in such a way as to communicate the value of what they are doing to the customer, so that the customer knows for sure that whatever they’re doing, it’s going to be a quality event, even during slow times of the year.
Here are a few more tips if you’re thinking of applying to this market in the fall:
It’s a small, semi-exclusive show: There are only 25 spots available, and I’m thinking they fill up pretty fast, if for no other reason than the awesome vibe that’s going on here. I’d follow the market on Facebook and get in touch with Kelly ASAP if you are interested in a space.
You’ll probably set up on a hill: The terrain is a little tricky because it’s hilly in front of the barn. I was on an incline in my spot, so much so that I had to leave the back two tent legs shorter than the front ones. This threw off the layout of my tent that I had planned in my head, and I was rearranging things all day. I think if I’d gotten there a little earlier, I’d have been better off.
Be prepared when it comes to your prices: If you are used to pricing items for markets that are closer to Detroit (Royal Oak, Rochester Hills, etc.), you might want to consider doing a little research for this show—maybe shop it before you decide to vend. I couldn’t believe how great some of the prices were, and I felt like a few of my items may have been overpriced for the market. Also, people weren’t afraid to negotiate, so be prepared for that—if that kind of thing bothers you, then this might not be the show for you.
If you’re looking for a vintage market to do this fall, follow Shabby Sundays at the Barn on Facebook to get a heads up about the fall date. Here are some other shows I’m looking forward to (some of which may still have spots available):
Sterlingfest, Sterling Heights, MI: July 27-29, 2017 (this one is full)
Rummage and Relics, Richmond, MI: July 28-29, 2017 (spots still available–I haven’t committed to this one yet)
St. Augustine Parish Festival, Richmond, MI: August 12, 2017 (I think spots are available still–I’ve never done this one before, but I’m excited to try it and let you guys know how it goes)
Shabby Sundays at the Barn, Flint, MI: TBA September 2017
Hocus Pocus, Monroe, MI: October 7-8, 2017 (spots still available)
As always, if you have a show review please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and if you’ve been at Shabby Sundays in the past and want to leave a comment about anything I’ve left out, please do so below.
I’m taking a break from shows for a few weeks, but I’ll be back at the beginning of August with a review of Sterlingfest 2017 (I can’t wait!!). In the meantime, I’ll be posting a makeover I’m doing of a sun porch, some general information on craft show planning, and a post on how I shop estate sales.
Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful week!