Craft Show Review: Faith Troy Women’s Gala in Clinton Township, MI

I know I’m just over a month late with this post, but I’ll take a minute to explain why.

This event that we do at the beginning of each December is traditionally the last one of the year–I try not to work a ton in December because I really like to slow down and take time to make gifts, spend time with my family, and think about what the next year is going to look like. Plus, it’s hard to enjoy the season with three events every weekend between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Maybe I’ll speed up a little during this time when Charlotte is a little older, but for now, I like to be able to really savor my Decembers.

For us, 2018 is going to be focused around paying down our mortgage. If you know us at all, you know that we are pretty avid Dave Ramsey fans (step 6, baby!), and Dan and I decided that our word for the year is “mortgage”–everything that we do, especially when it comes to money, we really want to focus on knocking down that mortgage balance. We have a pretty aggressive goal of paying off 33% of it this year–I’ll let you know how that goes as we progress through the next twelve months!

That’s a small piece of what we like to do in December–I’m still working on some other goals, as well, and I’m thinking of sharing them for a post later this month.

For now, on to the last event of 2017, the Faith Troy Women’s Gala.

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This event has a special place in my heart because not only is it the biggest event that my church does every year, but it’s the very first event that my mom and I ever did with this business, and it’s one of the best events that we do each year.

As you can see, the majority of what we prepare for this show is Christmas items and gifts, and I was seriously in love with all of the fresh greens and chippy white that we brought to the booth this year. I wish I’d thought to take a picture after the event–it was so busy all night and we sold so many of the Christmas pieces that it was pretty empty by the end!

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We started collecting old wooden sleds, skates, and windows as early as we could this year–the sleds took up a bunch of room in my garage this summer, so I was happy that we sold most of them (although my favorite one didn’t sell, which I’m actually sort of happy about).

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We also brought a lot of our normal small items, especially the things that make great gifts–tea wallets, burp cloths, switch plates, coasters, and some of the new baby/toddler items that I’ve been trying to incorporate more into our events.

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The doll baby beds were very popular, as were the felt flower hair bows and felt flower hoop wreaths. Funny story about those–the first one I made was an Instagram inspiration that I made for myself, but I had so much fun doing it that I made a few more for this show. I thought they were really pretty and unique. I asked Dan what he thought of them and he was really surprised that I was thinking of selling them (which basically translates to something like he took one look at them and immeadiately thought they were a failed experiment). He was equally surprised that I didn’t come home with any of them…

Anyway, on to the normal elements that I talk about with any other craft show.

Price: This show is an easy yes for us at $40. It’s always been really reasonable (I think the first year we did it was only $25), even though the total shopping time for the event is less than 3 hours. It’s always on a Tuesday evening–shopping typically starts at about 4:30 p.m., which is a little earlier than most of the women are there, but they all trickle in by 6:30, and with almost 1,000 attendees, it gets crazy busy.

During the dinner, music, and program (which is always fantastic), shopping is closed, but it opens up again after the event, which is nice–I think it gives some of the more hesitant customers time to really think about what they want to purchase and then an opportunity to come back later. I will say that the busiest time is definitely before dinner; since it’s often snowy and cold here in early December, I think most people are eager to get home and get warm as soon as possible (especially if they have to work the next day).

Skirted tables and chairs are provided, which is a nice bonus at this price point–most shows I go to charge extra for a plain, ugly folding table, so these are far and away better than that!

Location: The Gala is held at the Palazzo Grande in Clinton Township, and the ballroom is set up with the dinner tables in the middle and the vendors along either side of the room in double rows.

As you can see from the photos, the carpet and decor are fairly generic–what you’d expect from a standard banquet center. To be honest, the pickiest thing for me about this show (which is a super little item in the grand scheme of things) is just that putting my pieces against this backdrop doesn’t always show them at their best (especially in photos). I definitely prefer to have a much cleaner palate to work with–my white tent, for example. I always feel like the carpet and wallpaper are a little distracting from my particular pieces.

The only other thing that is a little hard is that the vendors only have three and half hours to set up the day of the event, which doesn’t leave a lot of time to make the booth super pretty, set everything up in it, go home, get dressed and ready for a fancy event, and then come back to the venue again (depending on the weather and early rush hour traffic, it takes me about 30-45 minutes to get to this particular show).

This year we had a problem that we’ve never had before, and I think it was because we had so many big pieces–there wasn’t a lot of overflow space, and when someone bought something, they couldn’t just take it with them, because they were headed back to their table for dinner. That’s definitely a challenge that is unique to this show, since usually people take their pieces with them to put in their car or to a holding tent of some kind. It got a little confusing for the customers, since the pieces were still just right there. I hate having to tell people that things are already sold–luckily, a lot of the pieces I was able to reproduce easily, and so we were able to take several special orders.

Traffic: Like I said, the traffic is crazy. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that I have relationships with a lot of the women there, partly because it’s my church and partly because we’ve been doing this event for five years now, and a lot of the women tell us they really look forward to seeing what we have in our booth every year.

Since the first year we came, it has been all we can do to keep up with receipts and credit card sales in between talking to the ladies and taking special order requests–there’s no way I’d be able to do this show in particular without my mom. Our booth was so crowded with pieces and people that I was stuck in that back corner for most of the night (not even time for a bathroom break!) and my mom had to do the moving around and the answering of questions during the majority of the time.


Who else out there is with me about December events? I know that there are some really good ones out there, and of course, it’s prime time for the folks out looking for a handmade Christmas gift–if you’re out there selling until Christmas Eve, that’s awesome!

Someday, that might be me…I know December is prime time, but those weeks are too precious to me at this time in my life.

I’d love to hear about your holiday shows in the comments below!

Talk soon,

Jess

 

 

Vintage Market Review: Hocus Pocus at the Monroe County Fairgrounds, Monroe, MI

I’m a little behind in getting this review out to you guys–we were at this show two weekends ago, October 7-8, 2017–I feel like I just got back from my annual creative writing trip with my college students (it’s actually been three whole days…). Hocus Pocus was a super fun event, and a great way to close out the year of outdoor shows.

This is kind of a unique review because this is the first show where we actually stayed on the grounds all weekend camping! It was really fun and totally worth it to spend the night right there rather than driving back and forth, since the commute was over an hour. My parents stayed on the campground Friday and Saturday night, but we had a birthday party and gymnastics on Saturday, so my mom ran the market most of Saturday and then we came in the afternoon and spent just one night with them.

Hocus Pocus was hosted by The Vintage Market, LLC—they do several events throughout the year, and I was actually invited to do one of their shows last year, but I couldn’t have pulled it off with my 2016 fall schedule, even though it looked like a lot of fun. This year, I decided to try it, since my fall is a lot less crazy. When I first signed up, I wasn’t even thinking about camping, but my mom really wanted to—my parents have a pop-up camper and we hardly used it this year, so she was really itching to get it out. My parents used to camp all the time, and it was kind of sad that we really didn’t get to this summer, since it was so busy.

For me, this photo really sums up the essence of the weekend:

Clouds Over the Vintage Market

I love October skies.

Price: This show was $150 for the two days for an outside spot (which is what we had), though there were inside spaces available for the same price. They also have their own tents, spaces under which are $200.

They charged $5 admission for customers coming in to this show, which was clearly communicated ahead of time on all of their promotional material.

Camping was $30/night on the fairground campsites, which included electricity, water, and restrooms/showers. I didn’t shower there, since Dan and I only spent one night on the campground, but they looked nice—I’d say state park level. They definitely weren’t the grossest showers I’ve ever seen, was is always a bonus.

Hours on Saturday were 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., but they ended up closing the show early, at 5 p.m., due to high winds. It had been pretty windy all day, and our table/door display at the back of the booth actually blew over at one point, which was pretty scary. Towards the end of the show (which was unfortunately right when Dan and I got there), the wind was at about 18 mph, with gusts up to 30, and it was only getting worse. We haven’t had winds this bad since we did the Mount Clemens Summer Magic Festival in 2015, and we ended up taking our entire display apart and dropping our tent down to the ground for the night, which we’ve never done before, even at that show.

I was pretty freaked out that the tent would blow away at some point during the night, especially since we were right there in the camper and the wind was shaking us up pretty violently, too. I don’t know whether I was more nervous being right there, or whether I would have been more nervous leaving. We could see the tent from the camper, so that was a little bit of a relief, but it sure was hard falling asleep with all that weather happening, and feeling like I had to sit up and make sure the tent was still there after every other gust!

With all the weather going on Saturday afternoon, it almost made me wish that I had requested an indoor spot, but the inside vendors said things were really slow in the expo center, and that the traffic just wasn’t filtering in to where they were, so I guess you have to take the good with the bad, right? I’d rather have my stuff blow around a little and actually sell some things, then have everything look perfect all weekend and then have to bring it all home. Most of the outside vendors seemed to have really steady sales, although I heard from some of the vendors that the traffic was a bit slower at this show than similar events in the area.

Other than our display blowing over that one time, the only snafu was with the map—our business name was accidentally left off of the official map and never got fixed before it went to print, so there was one time when a customer had the cart go to the wrong booth for a furniture pickup. Dan was manning the booth at the time, and I’d forgotten to tell him about the mix-up–we were booth #35, but the wrong name was printed on the map for that booth number. Luckily, it all worked out in the end and the customer got his table and everything was fine. These things happen.

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Location: The fairgrounds were a little bit off the beaten path, but it was a beautiful location. The facilities were much more modern than those at the Wayne County Fairgrounds, where we were for the Belleville show, and Hocus Pocus was a lot bigger, too.

The bathrooms, again, were very nice, and there were several of them scattered throughout the show, so there was never a problem with long lines, the way there was at the Belleville and Brownstown shows. The bathrooms in the Expo Center were especially nice, and very big.

There were two big parking areas and two tractors with trailers running all day long, taking customers back and forth between the shopping area and the parking lots. Charlotte had fun on Sunday afternoon riding around with Grandma and Grandpa when the tractor had lighter crowds.

There was also a good size staff with carts to help customers with bigger purchases back and forth to their cars. Everything was very well run and organized, and I didn’t notice anything that didn’t go according to plan.

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Traffic: This show was a little bit backwards for us—usually, our best hours are always before noon, but this time around, we did the best between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. It was a little crazy. There were a few people who saw something and bought it right away, but it was more of people looking, walking around, and coming back for things later.

I totally get that, since that’s how I shop—I like to look at everything and decide what to get on the second time around, especially since my shopping budget is usually split into things for Charlotte, things for events/decorating, and gifts for upcoming birthdays (and Christmas, this time of year). I try to work in a little something for myself–I can’t wait to share my next Friday favorites post (you can check out the first one here).

In general, the crowds were lighter than I expected, especially since the weather was fabulous, except for the wind on Saturday. For a Michigan October, it was hot and sunny and totally perfect, so I’m surprised that we didn’t have more people.

We made our booth probably a third of the way through Saturday, which was nice, and we ended up doing the best we’ve done since Sterlingfest, which was a nice way to finish off the year of outdoor shows. We sold more painted furniture and small items than anything else—it wasn’t a big day for antiques. I’m not too surprised by that—the majority of booths were selling antiques/salvage, so there was a lot of competition there and some really, really good prices. I bought a few things on Sunday afternoon that were just too good to pass up, and that I’ll probably list in my Etsy shop when I’m doing using them.

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I love these avocado drawers. I’m thinking succulents…

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I really want to make these fit into Beth’s baby shower next weekend, but I don’t think it’s going to happen. Oh, well. I’ll use them eventually…right?

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These are going to be perfect for Christina’s wedding. $10 each!! Can you believe that deal??

Even with Dan and my dad snoring and keeping us up half the night on Saturday, I’d probably camp at a show again—in fact, we’re looking at doing a couple of shows in the spring where we’ll camp out. It was really nice being just a few hundred yards away from the tent at all times, and being able to bring all the food and water with us that we would need. It was a lot cheaper and healthier than eating from the food trucks all weekend!

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We were a little lonely on the campground with no one else around, but it was super peaceful, too!

The clouds and the light were so perfect on Saturday night that Charlotte and I had an impromtu photo shoot with the Vintage Market’s signature rusty truck.

 

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Can you tell the fake smiles from the real ones? I had a stroke of genius telling her to hang off the side of the trunk with one arm out–she loves anything that has a slight hint of danger to it…

Have you ever done a show where you camped out on the grounds? What was it like? Would you do it again? Share your experiences below—and if you have any questions or hesitations, feel free to ask/share! I’d love to talk more!

Talk soon,

Jessie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Craft Show Review: Ray Township Fall Festival in Ray Township, MI

Good morning friends!

I have been having a wonderful and relaxing past few weeks—I know I should really be gearing up for the winter, but it’s always hard to keep going full force once the school year begins and I’m back at Rochester College—even with reduced hours. I’m only teaching my creative writing workshop this semester, and I really couldn’t be happier. It was a struggle for me to turn down part of the schedule that I was offered, but it’s turned out to be the best thing about my fall.

After Junkstock, I didn’t have anything planned until the first weekend of October, but when we were in Richmond someone came by our booth to invite us to the Ray Township Fall Festival. I wouldn’t have thought twice about it, but she also happened to mention that the event was free.

That, of course, made me take a closer look. What gave me the most pause about the show was that the hours were 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., and we usually have more luck selling in the early part of the day. I was nervous that we’d drive out there, set up, and then listen to crickets for four hours. I guess the reason for the later hours was that the organizers also run a farmer’s market in the early part of the day, so there was a conflict doing the festival in the morning.

I didn’t end up signing up to do the show until a few days before, but I’m glad I did. It was a relaxing event, it wasn’t too far away, and we did decent business. I also actually got some work done, so it was a win-win-win.

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Price: When I heard that the show was free, I thought two things (besides “how awesome!”):

  1. This must be the first event of this kind.
  2. They probably aren’t expecting a big turnout.

Even with those potential negatives, however, my mom still really wanted to give it a try, and since the weather was so nice and we already don’t mind driving out to that area, we decided to go for it.

I guess there’s not much else to say about the price–free is free, right?

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Location: The event was held at the Ray Township Hall and Park, and it was really a lovely little spot just north of Wolcott Mill (one of my favorite fall destinations). It’s about a half hour from my mom’s house, and forty-five minutes from mine, but again, I love driving in the country, so that’s really not a downside for me. We also really like this area because we spent a lot of time out here as a family when we were little, and because my brother and sister-in-law live out here now. It’s a really pretty part of southeast MI.

The park had a walking path and some wooded trails, which I walked a bit during the 5 o’clock hour. The event also boasted live music—the band kept busy doing covers of mostly 60’s hits, which was fun, and they had pumpkin decorating for the kids and an array of vendors that were mostly farmer’s market type things. There were also some clothing booths and Big Time, Bag Time— my mom met these ladies back in the summer at a one-day Frontier Town event and they are super sweet (and happened to be our neighbors for this show, which was fun).

 

Traffic: Nothing really started happening until after four, and then we had a few sales between four and six. We made a grand total of $50, which wasn’t bad for a free show.

Overall, traffic was slow, but steady, especially from four until six. There were a lot of folks there with their kids, getting faces and pumpkins painted and playing on the playgrounds. They had a food truck and a coffee truck, which drew in a lot of people, and probably the final number of attendees was around 200 or so.

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I managed, for the first time since 2015, probably, to get quite a few projects done during the show:

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I always go back and forth about whether to work during a show—sometimes it’s really distracting for me, and I want to just focus on the piece and not stop to talk to customers. On the other hand, sometimes they just want to stand there and watch, which means they stay in the booth longer, which means they have a greater likelihood of making a purchase.

Because they let us leave our cars parked right behind our booth setup, it worked out really well for me to get some work done that I could then just stash back in the car. We set up a blanket behind the booth and hung out back there for most of the night:

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Another great thing about this show was that it gave me a chance to work on a new display for my MI signs:

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I’ve struggled with how to display these for a while—when I first started making them, they sold really well just out in crates on the ground, but lately, people haven’t been noticing them as much (or maybe the market is just so saturated now with MI products—it’s probably a bit of both).

Dan pulled these closet doors out of the trash on our street for me a little over two years ago, and they’ve been sitting in the garage ever since. He actually recognized them when I brought him out to look at the new display the other morning.

I’m especially happy to have that out of the way and ready for the show next weekend—it’s one less thing I have to do to get ready for The Vintage Market.

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The event was put on by the Bruce Township North End Market, which, again, hosts a weekly farmer’s market every Saturday in Romeo. They invited us to come on Saturdays through October, but I think we are busy every weekend, sadly. Apparently, it’s been free all year and the other vendors that have been doing it say it’s been working out well. They don’t just have farmer’s market items, either–she said they accept a variety of vendors and items.

The Ray Township show also gave me a chance to set up and play around with the display for next weekend in my head a little bit—I have a few good ideas for how I want to set up that booth since it’s a two-day event and I put a little more time/effort into designing the booth.

Have you ever done a last minute event just because it was free or really, really cheap? How did it go? I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments!

Thanks for reading!

Talk soon,

Jessie

Vintage Market Review: MI Junkstock in Richmond, MI

Hello friends! I’m excited to share my experience out in Richmond this past weekend with everyone today—after this week, I’m taking a much needed break from doing shows (for three glorious weeks!!), so I am really looking forward to that, especially after a show where I was sick the whole weekend!

I am still a little burned out this morning—not to complain, but after a weekend-long show, fighting a cold (right now I can’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t have a sinus headache), Charlotte’s first gymnastics class (which I bought a leotard for about 10 hours before the class, which was absolutely not my plan!!) and her first day of preschool on Monday, excuse me while I sit back and enjoy an hour of just sipping coffee and doing….nothing (except editing and publishing this post, that is).

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MI Junkstock was put on by Kathy of MI Junktiques in Richmond—her store is full of great painted pieces, vintage finds, and salvage items that can be turned into amazing new pieces, so if you are into DIY and don’t mind a really pretty drive through the country, you should go check her out. I haven’t tried her line of paint yet, but I’ve heard great things from Danielle of Tillie Jean Market, and I’m excited to try it the next time I’m out that way. You know me–I love, love, love Annie Sloan, but I am also a big fan of trying new paint.

We did a show with Kathy in the spring (Junk in the Trunk), and it was probably the best one-day event we’ve ever done. I honestly can’t think of a show where we sold more—it was just wall to wall people all day, and they all seemed to be looking for exactly what we had. We even had to have my dad and Dan bring out additional pieces, and sold almost everything that they brought us during the second half of the day, too. It was basically everything that you dream of for a craft show.

I signed up for Junkstock back in July during the same frenzy that led me to sign up for about six shows at once (at least one a weekend all through August), encouraged by the fact that it was being held during Richmond’s Good Old Days Festival, which was similar to Sterlingfest, minus the art show part of it and plus a couple of parades. Here’s the breakdown of how the weekend went for us:

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Price: This show was $100 for three days (I don’t know why this sign said only Friday and Saturday, because the market was open Sunday, too), which is a reasonable price for the amount of time we spent there and the placement in the show. In the vintage market section, there were about 7-8 tents selling furniture, vintage clothes/jewelry, and antiques, and then on the side street there were some direct sales vendors, crafty items, and information tents.

The hours on Friday were 1 p.m.-6 p.m., and on Saturday and Sunday were 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. I think we probably could have done without the Friday hours (though it rained most of the time, which probably cut down on traffic quite a bit–if it had been nice, the Friday hours probably would have been a lot better).

I was probably the sickest I’d been during my cold–my nose was already running and my aforementioned sinus headache was at it’s absolute worst–of course, right? My mom had to work that day, so I was there by myself, and I couldn’t even make it the whole time. I had to close up the tent at 4 because I was getting soaked and I wanted to try and avoid getting any sicker.

Saturday and Sunday were both beautiful, though we probably could have opened a bit later, since the crowds from the parade didn’t start filtering back towards the market area until after noon on both days.

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Location: Richmond is a little under an hour drive from my house, but unlike the downriver shows we did in August, it’s north of us, which makes the drive automatically better, in my opinion. I’d much rather drive through the countryside than spend an hour on I-75, so I had a lot more fun doing this one. Of course, unlike all of those shows, this one was three days long, so there was a lot more driving time with this one than with the others.

MI Junktiques is in the north part of the downtown area, and the show was held in the park just east of there. We had a nice spot on the grass by the tennis courts. Like I said before, this show resembled Sterlingfest in quite a few ways—carnival food, a midway, craft/vintage show—with the added attraction of a parade and some historical buildings and demonstrations (hence “Good Old Days”). Dan and I took Charlotte out there on Saturday and she had an amazing time. The wristbands were only $20—a little cheaper than Sterlingfest—and the rides that she couldn’t do alone let one of us ride for free, instead of making us buy tickets just to go through and make sure she didn’t get stuck/injured, so that was the real money saver.

I brought the EZ-UP on Saturday and Sunday, too, so we had a similar set-up with a relaxing second tent where one of us could chill while the other one talked to customers. My mom took Charlotte on a bunch of rides at one point and Dan legit fell asleep on the blanket for a good 45 minutes. That’s how nice it was.

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Traffic: There were a ton of people at the festival—I think estimates were around 10,000, but, again, like with a lot of these shows, a good chunk of the traffic were people there to watch the parade or do the rides with their kids. Crowds were slow in the mornings and didn’t really pick up until it was almost time to close—my mom ended up staying open until 7 p.m. on Saturday night because the crowds were just starting to pick up at that time and the other vendors were hanging out, too.


Overall, this was a decent show. We made our booth partway through Saturday, but about broke even when you add up food, travel, and time. The best part of the show was how relaxed the vibe was, and how nice the weather turned out to be on Saturday and Sunday.

My biggest pet peeve was definitely about parking for the show—vendors weren’t given any kind of identification or any special place to park, and the show was so crazy that people were walking for blocks and blocks to get there. When we got there on Saturday, I ended up just blowing off the barricades and driving through a blocked off part to go and park across from the historical buildings, which was the closest I could get to our tent. It was a good thing that no one stopped me—without any kind of identification, I was afraid that we were going to get kicked right out of there. But again, it was pretty chill, so no one seemed to care.

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We were able to set up on Thursday night–I love anytime we can set up the night before– and break down pretty smoothly right after the show ended on Sunday. With such a small number of vintage market vendors, there wasn’t a big hold up getting vehicles in and out.

I should mention that the Good Old Days staff was really on top of their game, too. There was a lot of effort put into making sure that the festival goers had a good experience—there were programs detailing all of the events and times for the weekend, a special barn where the volunteers hung out and where you could get emergency services right away if you needed them, and a huge signpost that listed everything that was going on.

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As far as festivals go, especially if you’re looking for a super fun day as a family, this one would be at the top of my list–it’s late enough in the year that you don’t have to worry about the weather being super hot, there’s plenty of kid food available, the rides are reasonably priced, and there’s a ton to do.

From a vendor perspective, I’m not sure that we’ll do this one again–if I were going to choose between doing the Peachfest in Romeo and doing this show again next year, I’d probably pick the Peachfest (even though it always falls on the weekend of my wedding anniversary). For the Romeo show, people come expecting to shop, whereas at the Junkstock show, it really seemed like the bigger draw was the rides and food.

What did you think of Good Old Days? And what are your favorite September shows to do? I’m very intrigued by the DIY Street Fair in Ferndale coming up the 22-24, and I’ll be sure to share my thoughts on being there as a shopper (I’m really looking forward to picking up a few things for my October favorites post as well). There’s also a show at the Canturbury Village next weekend that I’m hoping to go check out. Danielle will be there with Tillie Jean Market in case you’re interested in shopping for some amazing furniture and decor pieces!

Have a great week everyone!

Talk soon,

Jessie

Vintage Market Review: Finder’s Keeper’s in Belleville, MI

Good morning ladies! Today I’m reviewing our last official summer show, the Finder’s Keeper’s Vintage Market in Belleville, MI. This show was held at the Wayne County Fairgrounds, which was a great venue for this type of event, and we had a pretty nice day weather-wise as well—it’s been cool here for a Michigan August (about which you will hear no complaints from me!!), and the shows have been nice and mild this month.

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This show was a great mix of DIY, antique and redone pieces (in the furniture category anyway), and I brought a mix for my booth as well. My expectations were about what they were for the Shed 5 show—I had some pretty high hopes, and while we did better at Finder’s Keeper’s than we did in Eastern Market, our booth wasn’t nearly as busy as I’d hoped it would be, though the traffic overall was great in the morning.

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Price: The normal price for this show would have been $125, but I went through a frenzy of signing up for August shows in mid-July, and I was too late to get in at that price and had to pay an extra $25. Definitely on the high end for a one-day vintage market, and on top of that, they charge customers $5/head at the gates, which seems like a lot to me.

From a customer’s point of view, I’m not sure it’s worth that much—the variety of the booths and food trucks is pretty much the same as it was two weekends ago in Brownstown (there were a lot of repeat vendors from that show, actually), and Brownstown was free. I’m guessing that Finder’s Keepers had to charge admission to help pay for the venue and staff (which there were a lot of, I’ll admit), but again, it didn’t seem worth it.

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From a vendor’s perspective, I’m always uncertain of the effect that an admission fee has on sales. On the one hand, I would expect that if you’re going to pay just to get into the show, you’re going to be serious about shopping, but on the other hand, it’s also pretty cheap for an hour or so just to walk around and get inspiration. Plus, since you’ve already spent money to get in, you might be more careful about what you’re going to spend on purchases…again, I have no idea how that all actually works, but that admission fee has got to have an effect somehow or another, right?

There wasn’t a ton of advertising as far as signs along the route towards the show, and I don’t know how much was done outside of social media for this one. The market seems to have a large following, so I didn’t worry about it too much, but again, for such a high fee, it seems like there should be some extra promotion going on.

Side note: another slightly annoying thing was that they held my check for weeks before cashing it, which I don’t understand and is always a little irritating. I mailed the check the first week of August, and they didn’t cash it until after the show. I don’t know if that’s a normal policy, but if it is, it’s really inconvenient.

Location: The fairgrounds were easy to get to—pretty much right off of I-94, and they had the market set up with a petting zoo and pony rides on one side, and a food court, stage, and food truck fleet on the other. There were three rows of tents packed pretty tightly into the main space, however, and with all the room at the fairgrounds, it really seemed like they could have spread the show out a bit more to make loading and unloading much less stressful and congested. Getting out wasn’t a huge problem for us, since we got in right away, but we had to wait for a bit when we got there in the morning, even given the fact that at least half of the tents were already set up, and appeared as if they’d been so since the night before. There were a lot of campers set up on the other side of the barns where the food court was, and it seemed like the market had allowed quite a few people to come and set up the night before. This option wasn’t made clear on the contract, which stated that set-up wouldn’t begin until 7 a.m. the day of the event.

Overall communication wasn’t that great. I filled out a preliminary application on their website, after which they sent me an email with the contract attached. That was pretty much it. They did not email me to confirm acceptance or that they had received my check, and since they didn’t even cash it until after the show, I couldn’t tell whether I was accepted or not that way, either. I also never got any reminders or information the week of the show, which I would assume would be standard for an event this big. The only thing they did was post a map of the show on the Facebook event—I found my name and booth number on that map three or four days before the event. I know what you’re thinking: “if you were that stressed out about it, why not email them?” I probably should have. Next time.

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Traffic: The morning traffic was a little lighter than I’d expected, but busy enough. We made a few sales right away, but then it dropped off considerably and never really recovered. Again, I’d brought mostly big pieces, and we didn’t sell a single thing that was priced higher than $50. People were negotiating, too, and asking for steep discounts (one customer offered $10 on a window that I had priced at $25!). This, of course, makes me think that my prices were too high, and they might have been for that market. There were quite a few booths that were almost giving things away—the same furniture vendor from Saline was there with her insane prices (once again, I was tempted to buy several of her pieces)!!

After 1 p.m., traffic was barely a trickle, and my mom and I took turns walking around and shopping. It’s my birthday week, and I’m already thinking ahead to future Friday favorites posts and to Christmas and some birthdays of friends that I have coming up, so I was in the mood to shop a little.


There were indoor restrooms here, and plenty of volunteers to help us unload. They came around to all the vendors with big pieces and let us know that there was a cart available for customers to move large pieces from the show area to the parking lot, and one lady who bought a coffee table from us took advantage of that, which was a nice bonus for us and for the customer.

There was live music as well, and it was nice because the band was inside one of the barns, and even if you were close to where the stage was, it wasn’t so loud outside that you couldn’t hear your customers, because the barn contained the sound pretty well.

I don’t know how many more of these downriver shows that we will do—I would like to try the Plymouth show in the spring, and possibly go back to Brownstown, but this particular market didn’t really do it for me. Doing a show for the first time is always hard—we almost always do better the second time around than we do the first, with just a couple of exceptions. It’s always a learning curve in a new area, and it’s hard to know what kinds of things will do really well and what things will flop.

With the exception of Shed 5, I think the reason these August shows were so slow is partly due to the fact that it is August and partly because I just didn’t have the right mix of pieces. June, July, and August are always pretty slow months in my experience, but I know the right shows for those months are out there. We’ve found one good one in July–we’ve never had a bad year at Sterlingfest–and I’m looking forward to finding a few more shows this fall that will stay on our calendar for good.

Here are some shows I’m looking forward to attending or applying to this fall/winter:

Junkstock, Richmond, September 8-10

Michigan Antique Festival, Midland, MI, September 23-24

Hocus Pocus, Monroe, October 7-8

Detroit Urban Craft Fair, Detroit, Dec 1-3

Faith Christmas Gala, Shelby Township, December 5

My schedule is a little light right now, but I’m looking for a few more quick shows to add in there–I’d like to do at least two in November. There’s a small show in Auburn Hills that I’m considering, and a few more that are rattling around in my brain that I can’t think of right now. Fall is my favorite favorite season, so I love to be out and about during it!

What shows are you doing this fall? Have you done a Finder’s Keeper’s market? How did it go? Leave your questions and comments below, and have a great week!

Talk soon,

Jessie

 

 

Vintage Market Review: Chic and Unique Brownstown

Hi everyone and happy Wednesday! There’s nothing like a little craft show talk to get hump day started, am I right? Today I’ll be sharing my experience at the Chic and Unique show in Brownstown, MI—yet another show I did for the first time this year in my quest to branch out, get more experience doing shows, and get my furniture out to an even wider market.

Like the Saline show, I found Chic and Unique on Facebook. These shows are managed by a company called GLP Events, which does several events a year, and the interest on Facebook looked very promising, so I decided to give it a shot. As usual, I’ll talk about the cost, location, traffic, and organization of the show, and let you know how this one went for us. Thanks for reading!

Chic and Unique Booth 2017

Price: This booth cost $75, which is on the high end for a vintage market, but still in the average range of what I typically pay for one day. Because of the interest that the event was generating on Facebook, it didn’t really phase me. I typically set aside $300-$400 each month for shows, depending on the time of year, and so it wasn’t hard to fit this one into my budget.

I didn’t see a lot of signs directing us to the market on the way there, but it wasn’t as out of the way as the Saline show was—Chic and Unique was right on a main road and it was a lot bigger, so you knew there was something going on before you were even close, with all the tents and cars everywhere.

Location: I didn’t know much about the area at all when I signed up for the show, but it’s similar to north Macomb county—lots of big box stores, parks, etc. Plus, it’s close to the water, so it’s a good area.

The market was held at the Brownstown Event Center, which was one of the nicest venues I think I’ve ever done a show at.

 

The event center had indoor restrooms and air conditioning, along with tables for shoppers to eat (there was a small fleet of food trucks at the show) and relax at. There was some type of historical building on the grounds, too, which was open for tours, and a community garden that you could walk through. It was relaxing and fun to just walk around and enjoy the grounds.

Originally, our tent was supposed to be in the very back of the parking lot next to the row of vintage/salvage sellers, but they moved us at the last minute because there were still people parked in my spot unloading. I should have just told the organizer that I wanted to wait, because my spot ended up being on the end of an inside row, and traffic just seemed to go right by us all day (the back of our tent was against the sidewalk, where the natural flow of traffic was passing, which is always kind of strange). Of course, I didn’t know at the time that it was going to be an issue—something to keep in mind for next time, right?

As soon as people started to walk around, we realized that it was going to be difficult getting people into the tent, even with the amount of people that were there. We ended up rearranging the set-up with our pieces on either side of the tent, so that people could just walk right through. This helped us a little bit.

Traffic: The crowds were insane at this show—it was even busier than I expected, and people were definitely in the mood to buy. There was always a line at the food trucks and bathrooms, and there were people packed into the parking areas and around the tables inside the venue. It seemed like, in most of the booths around us, pieces were flying out of the show.

Our sales were definitely lower than average—it took us until 2 p.m. to make our booth, which is very unusual. Again, I’m always trying to figure things out and learn, and one of the problems I think we had was that our booth was a little sparse (this could also have been one of our problems at Shed 5, but I think it was an even bigger problem at this show). Most people had trucks or trailers, and most of the booths were absolutely packed with stuff. Usually, my mom and I do the shows together, so we have the entire van and her car packed with our furniture.

 

For Chic and Unique, my mom was on call (she’s a nurse), so Dan came with me and we only brought the van and the two of us, which cut down on the space we had for inventory. I can pack the van pretty well, but I can’t fill up the whole tent, especially when I have such big pieces in there to start with. When I see everyone else with trucks and trailers, and I see how full their booths are and how well they’re doing (at some shows), it always makes me think I need to invest in a trailer. And maybe I do. It’s definitely something to think about. I don’t know where I would store it—probably just in the driveway—and I’m not sure how much it would set me back in my savings goal for my store, but I’m starting to think I really need to consider and research it. I never have this problem with shows where I can set up the night before, or with shows that are longer than two days—I can always bring a second load to those, which means that I always have plenty of inventory.

Maybe I’ll do a pro/con list—who knows? That could be the seed for another post!


I mentioned that it was a little disorganized coming in—I’ve never had been to a show that simply moved me unceremoniously to a different spot just because someone was still unloading and I couldn’t pull up to my original space—and it was a little crazy going out, too. The organizers came around and asked that everyone be completely packed up before pulling their cars up, and the traffic had slowed so much by 3:45 p.m. that I was packed and ready to load right at 4—with all big pieces, there isn’t much to pack up anyway.

Someone else brought their car in even a little bit before 4, so I told Dan to go and get the van as soon as I saw that, but by the time he was ready to pull into the vendor area, one of the guys had dragged the barrier across the entrance and wasn’t letting anybody in. I walked over to ask him to move it, and he told me that no one could come in until the food trucks were out. Luckily, there was a pretty irate guy right behind me who told the guy who was blocking everyone that he was being insane, and that was enough to get the guy to move the barrier. Dan scooted in right behind irate guy’s truck before the barrier could be replaced.

When we talked about it later, Dan thought maybe the organizer guy was trying to get the food trucks out quickly so that there could be two lanes of traffic, one going in and one going out, and make it smoother, but there was plenty of space for people who were packed and on that first row to get in and out quickly. It literally took us eight minutes to load the van once it was back there (yes, I timed it!). There didn’t seem like there was much of a reason to give me such a hard time about moving the barricade, especially since the food truck guys didn’t seem like they were in a hurry to get anywhere fast—the front guy didn’t even have his trailer hooked up by the time that we were pulling out.

The space is pretty narrow where cars can come in, so I can appreciate that they wanted to keep things as simple as possible, but, especially since they told us to be packed up before we brought our cars back, I just assumed that once we were packed up, it would be no problem to get back to the tent.

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I’m happy I tried this show—like I said, the crowds were amazing—but I’ll definitely bring more inventory if I do it again in the spring, and I’ll make sure I’m there early enough to get into my assigned spot with no trouble (I was supposed to be in the B section, and that seemed like a great location—plus, it was in the shade most of the day, too).

Like the Saline show, it was pretty far for us to drive, but it was highway basically the whole time, and if 75 hadn’t been closed for miles south of Detroit, it would have been even quicker. We didn’t make much of a profit for this show, but ended up about breaking even when you add up the cost of gas and food.

How did you do at the Chic and Unique August market? There were people who were doing crazy good, which is amazing! Let me know what you thought of the market in the comments below.

Talk soon,

Jessie

Vintage Market Review: Shed 5 Flea at Eastern Market

People have literally been telling me to do this show for years, and I honestly couldn’t tell you why I haven’t tried it before. My dental hygienist, of all people, was the person who finally put the flyer in my hands this past summer and somehow that translated to me finally signing up for the event. Life is funny.

Shed 5 Booth

I was a little nervous about having enough inventory ready for this show, since we’d gone on vacation for a whole week after Sterlingfest, where I’d basically sold out of all my furniture, and we had St. Augustine’s out in Richmond the day before. Luckily, I finished two of the bigger pieces that I’d bought up north, and another bed bench before Shed 5, and we only sold one big piece on Saturday, which meant that our booth was full for the event in Eastern Market. Unfortunately, we came home with nearly everything, though we did hand out quite a few business cards.

Shed 5

This show was organized by Mercantile Fairs, which hosts three “fleas” throughout the summer in Eastern Market. This was the last one for the year, and I had high hopes for it. Eastern Market is one of those unique places that you just don’t think about a lot unless you’re often in Detroit, and it’s still surprising to me that it’s both the largest open air market and the largest historic market district (the original sheds were built in the 1800’s!!) in the United States. The vibe as we were setting up was amazing, and I got really excited to shop, once we started selling a few things. I was disappointed overall, but not every show can be an amazing show.

Here’s the breakdown of how Shed 5 went for us:

Price: This show cost $150, which seemed perfectly reasonable when I signed up for it. Mercantile Fairs does a good bit of promotion around Detroit with flyers, posters, and online marketing, and the shows are well-staffed and well-organized. I hadn’t done a show with them since a downtown Northville market in fall 2014, but I knew that they did a decent job. For a one day event it’s still pretty high, and the thing that I’d forgotten about the show that I did in Northville was that they’d put me at the end of a side street rather than in the main part of the show, which they did again this time. But that’s more for the location part of the post.

Location: In theory, there almost couldn’t be a better location for this event. Like I said, there’s the history of Eastern Market that draws people there to hang out no matter what is going on; in addition, there was an antique car show, farmer’s market, food truck alley, and, of course, the Shed 5 flea. The sheds are enclosed, with bathrooms and large garage-type doors on either side that they open for air-flow. Between the sheds, open air pavilions stretch across the blocks, making a walkway for the crowds where the food trucks, smaller booths, and produce guys can just pull right up. The pavilion area in back of Shed 5 was where most of the furniture vendors were, and where I would have preferred to be—instead, the organizers put us up front on Russel Street, with the flea market section, and where it really didn’t seem like there was as much traffic.

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We were able to pull right up onto the sidewalk to unload—basically right up to the back of where our booth was, which is always really nice—the spots in the front and the back were both like this—for the booths on the inside of the shed, there was a little more walking/carrying involved in the set-up.

Traffic: Whenever I went into the shed during the busiest part of the day, it was packed. Like, wall to wall people. I made a mental note to come very early if I ever plan to shop—there were so many people that it was difficult to really concentrate on looking at the amazing wares available. In the back, where most of the furniture was, it was busy, but not quite as busy as the inside. But at the front, we never had the masses of people pressing by the booth the way they were inside. If I do this show again next summer, I’ll definitely request a spot that’s either inside or at the back, where the furniture and décor people were better represented–that was my top takeaway from this event.

*Side note: I was slightly justified in my rationalization that we were way out of the traffic pattern a few days later, when I was chatting with a friend who had gone to Eastern Market not knowing I would be there, and had totally missed our booth. When I told her where we’d been, she couldn’t even picture the front of the shed. The flow of traffic just really wasn’t moving people out that way (at least, not that day).

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It seemed like many people were shopping for small items and Christmas gifts, though I did see furniture being loaded out in front of our booth, and I know that at least one of the other vendors almost sold out of her big pieces, so it’s not that people weren’t shopping for larger items. I had two very big pieces (my buffet and the Graphite bed bench that I also had at St. Augustine), and I didn’t bring any of my smaller items. With our two sales, we didn’t even end up making our booth fee, which is always very discouraging, especially at a show that I just assumed would be a slam dunk for us. We had several people comment that the prices on our pieces were very reasonable, which is encouraging, especially after our experience with that in Richmond, but no one was in the market for a buffet, I guess.

You can see from the photos that we had a trash can in the middle of our booth—one of those ones that’s cemented to the sidewalk, so you can’t move it (they came by and said that they’d given us a bit more space to make up for it), and I’m glad that it wasn’t a super hot day because it would have been way stinkier. The worst part about it was that, for about two hours in the afternoon when the crowds had even started to die down inside the shed, no one came into our booth at all except to throw stuff away. It was rough.


I’ve been working on a post this month for a series that’s starting in September about how to deal when an event isn’t going the way you’d planned. Shed 5 really tested me—all I wanted to do was lock myself in one of the bathroom stalls (or in my van) and cry for awhile. It feels embarrassing to me when I go to a huge event and barely sell a thing—like I’m losing touch with what people are looking for, like no one will ever buy a piece from me again. At first, I put it all on myself, and then I try to explain it by analyzing external things (where they put us, how my prices line up with the rest of the show, the time of year). I saw a ton of my ideal customers at the show, but hardly any of them came into the booth—they were all inside the shed. Sometimes, there’s no good explanation–like I said earlier, not every day can be THE day.

I waited to cry until I was driving home. During the day, I tried to plan, to dream, to look towards the next event. None of that worked out too well, though I did come up with a few ideas for upcoming blog posts. It was really hard not to do the thing where I start thinking about how this kind of thing will never happen once I have my store. Like, there won’t ever be a month where I don’t make my rent. But that’s not reality. I know retail is hard. I know retail is dying (in a lot of ways), especially brick and mortar retail. How much harder will it be when there’s slow month where nothing is happening and I don’t sell enough to make my rent? It sounds like I was depressing myself even more with these kinds of thoughts, but I’m really just trying to keep things in perspective. Some months, and some events, for whatever reason, will legitimately stink. It’s fine. Well, it’s not fine, but I’ll get over it. On to the next challenge. But all of this is fodder for a different post.

Shed 5 was a great event, but just not for me (at least this one wasn’t). I wish I had gone just to shop—there were a ton of great vendors there and I didn’t really get to buy a few of the things I wanted to because I just didn’t make enough to do it. I did pick up these awesome metal 1950’s juice cans for my succulent centerpiece idea for the Bible Journaling event.

Succulents in Juice Cans

How did you do at the Shed 5 Flea this August? I know that there were a ton of people who had a killer show there, which is amazing! What shows are on the horizon for you? I’m super excited about the fall—it’s my favorite season and such a great time for doing shows, shopping for my Christmas list, and, of course, wearing sweaters!!

Talk soon,

Jessie