When every day is an adventure, it is hard to get your bearings.
After much anticipation, repricing and retagging, the Ravenswood Art Walk wasn’t quite what I had hoped it would be.
I brought in the borrowed table and old shelving unit the night before to keep nerves and muscle strength preserved.
The next morning the true setup began.
I was in awe of the pros with their amazing displays.
The big tent had a lot of traffic and I received many positive compliments, but I made no sales on day one.
Predicted thunderstorms held off for some time, and when they came we initially thought the additional traffic was a boon to business as everyone sought shelter. Our glee quickly turned to concern however, when the water didn’t drain away and more kept coming in.
It turns out that Chicago shuts down drains to control how much water enters the Chicago River, which is fine when the parking lot is filled with cars during a rainstorm. However, as the runoff from outside started pooling around the drain in the center of the big tent, we realized we had to move things off the ground and away from the center.
Soon we were ankle deep and had to evacuate our wares, a rough way to learn one’s new boots aren’t waterproof.
The RAW volunteers profusely apologized at this unanticipated, never-before-seen incident, and ordered a water-vac to drain the mini-pond for the next day.
It was quite the adventure, especially since the point of renting space in the big tent was the assurance that professionals would deal with all the weather hazards.
This was just an unprecedented occurrence no one had anticipated.
Even the outside tents were affected.
Painter Jason McPhillips was able to greet anyone coming after the flood (but his feet got soaked too).
The sound guys had a rain-playlist ready, playing “Singing in the Rain”, “It’s raining Men”, “Blame it on the Rain” and other wet standards.
The next day I put on the covenant pendant in which God placed a rainbow in the sky to pledge that he would never destroy all life again after Noah’s flood (Genesis 9:12-17). Gotta have a little humor, right?
The puddle had been vacuumed up.
Temperatures had dropped significantly, changing the dynamics of tent flow and likely keeping many people inside.
Fewer people were touchy-feely about my wares, though I still got a lot of nice compliments and encouragement (along with unsolicited advice, as is always the case at these things).
Those who had promised to come back never did (unsurprisingly).
I only made a few sales in the late afternoon, but analyzing the situation doesn’t give me much to go on.
It wasn’t my location, since I basically acted as a greeter all day long, being across the main entrance. Some veterans also did worse than prior years, and others were happy with their results.
My pricing was similar to that of the other jewelry vendors, but having 7 of us in the same tent might have been a drawback, even though we each had different types of work.
Like the armchair advisors I have numerous display ideas, but practically and funds preclude me from going all out before I know for sure what venues work best for me. At the end of the day, all you can do is pack everything up and let the fair go.
Fortunately Jason did better than me in his tent.
It helps to have supportive friends take you out for comfort food after the fair.
Energetically I do feel buoyed by the support and compliments I received, and by the fact that many people picked up my business cards for their holiday shopping list.
I can check off another ‘what if’ from my bucket list, and I got to practice being extroverted and making random small talk in spite of my introverted nature.
My outfits were a hit too, which proves that dressing the part and feeling good in what you’re wearing goes a long way. The fashion was fun to watch throughout the weekend.
A booth neighbor fell in love with Faith with Deeds and took it home with her. It has parts of James 1 and 2 peek on the front and the back quotes James 2:15 to 21, including “Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”
Encaustic artist friend Kathleen Roman picked up Green Honor and an oval with the hymn of Christ the Lord is Risen Today.
My tiny coils matched the pendant another customer was wearing, rounding out my weekend sales.
Art fairs, especially outdoors, are not for the faint of heart, and I deeply admire those who choose this gypsy-like lifestyle on a weekend-by-weekend basis.
I will be testing out some indoor shows over the holiday season and am pleased to have the support of select boutiques as I learn the ropes of what sales venues will be most effective for me. My Etsy store is open (please heart your heart out!), and Aurora Rose in Lemont and Stella Boutique in Evanston both have select jewelry in their storefronts.
Hope springs eternal!