You might not be aware of this, but craft shows are cool. Well, I think they are cool. Growing up, when my mom took us to craft shows, they were normally right before Christmas. They weren't cool. They usually included geese wearing dresses and hats, oversized fancy wreaths that smelled like potpourri, painted wood houses that also smelled like potpourri and Christmas scenes that were painted on anything imaginable- wood, glass, tables, jean shirts, jeans, hats, purses, fanny packs...you get the point. Although I'm sure that still exists, what I find now at craft shows is pretty incredible. I never realized this before I started a handmade business, but the handmade world is its own little community.
At the second show we ever participated in, we met Jessi, from Two Seaside Babes. She seemed to be a craft show veteran- she knew everything there was to know...what kind of tent to use, what credit card machine to run, how to display your product, how to make your booth look gorgeous... I think I literally took notes and remember wanting to ask 100 more questions, but didn't want her to think I was completely insane. She became one of many craft show friends we met at a show- and continued to see about two or three times a year at different shows.
We noticed a pattern that we also belonged to- a group of young moms who were trying to help support their family by hand making products and selling them on the weekends. Some of the friends we continue to see in the Indiana craft circuit include: Laura from Lillypie Accessories, Erin from Lois Pearl, Amy from Bizzy Buckets, Kelly from Diva Mimi, Megan from Spice of Life Designs, Megan from LeeLeeLoo, and Stacey from Steel Dreaming. Every show I see one of these girls at, I always ask what their show schedule looks like.
This past weekend, Brodi and I heard the details about an urban legend of craft shows. Let's call it the "crazy Christmas" show (um...no I cannot reveal the true name to protect those involved). I had heard about "crazy Christmas" a few years ago when we first started on the show circuit. I had looked for details all over their website, but could not find ANYthing about the show. I couldn't even find WHEN it took place, let alone an application for it. I found out why this past weekend. The conversation went like this (okay, some has been slightly exaggerated for effect, but this is pretty much what I remember happening):
Me: "So...we heard you're a vendor at crazy Christmas. How do we apply, because I have found nothing online."
Friend (while shaking her head): oh...you do not apply. You are grandfathered in.
Friend: Well, you can try to call right after the show to see if you can sneak in a spot for next Christmas, but it is not likely. You have to get in touch with the coordinator. No one knows her name. You'll never find a phone number. You have to know someone who knows someone. A few years ago, I was able to secure a small spot. It was in the back, by the kitchen. There was a door that hit me in the butt all day long, but I didn't say a word because I at least was "in". After three years of being hit in the butt, a woman at a different booth decided she wouldn't be returning. She "gave" me her spot since she liked me. So, I have now earned an official spot at the crazy Christmas show.
my sister: ahhhh.
Me: SO, is there like money flying everywhere because that is what I am picturing?
Friend: oh yes, the hallways are packed with people and all you can see is money. flying. everywhere.
Me (pretty much picturing the stock exchange of craft shows): ohhhh.
my sister: ahhhh.
Friend: now, there is a rumor that vendors can pack their cars with all of their supplies and wait outside in the freezing cold weather for a chance that a vendor doesn't show up. If a vendor gets sick or has a family death and doesn't show, their spot is gone. forever. FOR-EV-ER. FOR-EV-ER (okay, the forever's didn't happen, but I love The Sandlot movie, and it seemed to fit the conversation).
my sister: So, you just wait outside with other vendors and hope they pick you and hope someone gets sick and is a no show.
friend: yep. But once you are in...you're in. They would wheel me in on my deathbed to sell (my product) before I lost that spot.
My sister and I laughed about this conversation all day. Who knew that the craft shows could be so competitive? I complain about the work involved and some shows are great, while others are a waste of time, but we almost always have a good time. And a lot of laughs.
- our booth at a craft show in the spring