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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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