Okay, so not literally, obviously, as I would not be in a fit state to write about it but for those of you who ask about taking that step towards showing for the first (and possibly last) time be prepared for the gnawing terror that accompanies the looming date of your first show.
There are the obvious questions which assail you as you lie awake panicking at 2am …and 3am…. and 4am….such as, “Why am I doing this?” “What on earth made me think I COULD do this?” and the classic, “What can I do to a) get out of this b) cancel due to illness as yet I undetected and undiagnosed c) get the earth to swallow me without a trace?”
It is a measure of how committed you are or perhaps how much you’ve paid for the stall whether the answers you come up with to any or all of these night terror questions actually result in you pulling the plug on the event but rest assured that if you get through these few nights it will never, ever, feel as bad again.
The simple process of getting through your first event alive and usually unscathed is proof enough, if proof were needed, that any mishap (as others call it) or calamity (as I am prone to call it) will not be life threatening but is usually solved by a little ingenuity on your own part or as usually happens, by a helping hand from the fellow stall holders around you who are with few exceptions a friendly and utterly helpful bunch of fellow travellers.
My First Event:
My first ever event was in Yorkshire, in a village which adds the letters ‘fest’ after its name to create the festival ‘vibe’, has a craft marquee and a beer tent and congratulates itself on its artisan appeal. Set up was on a Friday and I duly rocked up and felt smug because unlike the bloke next to me I had read the small print and actually brought my own table……..with experience I now know that charging £75.00 for two days and expecting people to provide their own table as well is a teensy weeny bit of a rip off…..however, at the time I felt the investment was worthwhile.
Stall was set up…see last month’s blog for the photo……so off I trotted to spend the night at my Mum’s who only lives a few miles away….there I took a deep breath and I thought I could relax and prepare myself for the FIRST EVER CRAFT FAIR😱😱😱😱
Isn’t it amazing how life has a way of throwing you a curved ball. We went out for a meal that evening to a local pub and midway through the meal my Mum began to feel unwell, she complained about an aching shoulder, I dismissed it as an age thing, “overdoing it in the garden” I think I said! Oh dear oh dear oh dear, little did I realise!
Within two hours we were in A & E in York waiting for her to be seen as her arm had swollen up to twice its size. OMG what a night; it turned out, thankfully, not to be life threatening but a reaction to her blood thinning medicine (from out of nowhere)! At 1.30am she was admitted to the ward and I went home wearily and worriedly with my husband who, thank God, was with me!
So, what to do….my first stall was all set up and ready for me at the venue, my Mum was in hospital and I was knackered! Here my husband was an absolute hero….in the morning he dropped me off at the craft fair and then went straight in to the hospital to take my Mum her overnight stuff and check on how she was. My sister came over to stay with Mum (I add this detail so you don’t think I’m an uncaring and horrible daughter!) and I spent my first ever morning ‘on the other side of the stall’ completely exhausted and worried. The problem is once you’re set up there’s really little you can do but soldier on or abandon the stall completely! Went for the ‘easier’ option and kept ringing husband at hospital and trying to interest the good people of ****fest in my wares, with hindsight would have had more success trying to sell stained glass in the hospital car park! Spent the Saturday evening at hospital. Exhausted. On a brighter note my Mum was feeling perkier!😁
Sales that day?
Not a penny.
Not one sale.
I won’t bore you with the Sunday story (a similarly depressing tale)…… most importantly Mum recovered and is, as I type a hale and hearty 91. Was it worth the emotional rollercoaster and stress?
Let’s put it this way, after deducting costs I came away with a princely £20 for one of my worst weekends behind the stall; I’ve made less money at shows since but never been so stressed again.
So was it worth it? Not financially definitely and certainly I don’t want to go though the worry like that again but I learnt a number of really important lessons that weekend which have stood me in good stead ever since. Trivial perhaps but event on event it’s about improving so…..
1. Remember this paragraph at the beginning ( I know it seems such a long time ago)
‘The simple process of getting through your first event alive and usually unscathed is proof enough, if proof were needed, that any mishap (as others call it) or calamity (as I am prone to call it) will not be life threatening but is usually solved by a little ingenuity on your own part or as usually happens, by a helping hand from the fellow stall holders around you who are with few exceptions a friendly and utterly helpful bunch of fellow travellers.’
2. And this one does seem really trivial
Get a good table cover….I took with me a red sheet that weekend, I thought it was bright and cheerful but it looked awful because the glass colours were distorted and dull. Now I use crushed velvet in white bought online shows off the coloured glass beautifully…doesn’t crease and washes like a dream. You might be better with black or purple, look around at fairs and gather ideas.
3. Chat to fellow stall holders, full of good tips such as the people next to me at that weekend who suggested the white crushed velvet and where to buy it!
4. Listen and learn! I listened to the jeweller next to me who encouraged all passers by to, ‘feel free to try things on.’ and had a well rehearsed but friendly and encouraging spiel. Rehearse it and practise it at home!
5. Never ever take bad sales personally, you will always find someone who’s had a better show than you……. I cannot tell you the number of times I’ve vowed to do tray bakes or cupcakes…..they always sell out!
They say you never forget your first don’t they!?
Well I certainly won’t…….now you know why I called this episode of my blog:
Going over Niagara Falls in a Barrel!😂😂😂
Next time……….meeting people, finding friends.