Well, we did it! Our very first, out of town, non-Craftacular show! Here's our booth at The Creative Connection Event in Minneapolis, MN, just after we set up. Judging by the comments about how there was so much to look at and some of the puzzled looks of people who couldn't figure us out, we managed to successfully convey the idea of Anthology in an 8' x 2' space.
Where to begin? The packing of the car, the long drive up, the speedy unloading to get the car out of the way of fellow vendors... all that isn't particularly interesting, though it did make for a long day. After driving and setting up, grabbing a quick bite to eat, we settled in for the preview night on Wednesday night - from 5 to 9 pm.
I won't describe every single customer, but one of our early customers kind of sets the tone for the whole experience. She came up to our table early on during preview night and she looked kind of familiar to me. Turns out that she and her friend had been through Madison in the summer and they absolutely loved our shop (she repeatedly told me that she thought she dropped a LOT of money there...). She was super excited to see that we were vendors when she got the brochure for the event, and she had made it a point to come straight to our booth to tell us again how much she loved our shop. Wasn't that sweet?!
As our first out-of-town event, we didn't really know what to expect in terms of sales. Keeping our expenditures low (pretty much just the booth fee and gas, since we stayed with friends in the area) definitely helped. During preview night we recouped those costs so that eased the pressure.
On the whole, we consider it a successful event. It was quite a thrill to be among the presence of so many crafty superstars like the Crafty Chica, Amy Butler, Amy Barickman (and, by the way, the women at the Indygo Junction booth made me so jealous with their awesome ensembles of leggings paired with barkcloth jackets and tunics - so stylish!)... oh, I could go on dropping names forever. Not to mention the overal warm and creative and sharing and encouraging atmosphere. It kind of reminds me of a summer geology program I had in college - 8 of us young women studying geology and sharing dinners. I remember feeling such a thrill to be among people who spoke the same language, thought the same way. Well, that was another lifetime ago, but there was a similar feeling about The Creative Connection Event.
Part of my rationale for vending at this event (as opposed to something like Renegade Handmade or Art Vs. Craft) is that our store is a combination of handmade and readymade, art supplies and art works. It is actually a little difficult for us to fill an entire table with items that only Sachi and I have made; but this show gave us the flexibility to pack the wide assortment of Anthology goodies: journals, glitter, jewelry, books, pendants, collage packs, etc. And thus our booth functioned really well as advertisement for the store. Even in the months prior to the event, I had noticed a lot more blog traffic as a result of the links on their website, and have already noticed some new links since the event. Furthermore, since many of the participants were from the Minnesota area (and thus not out of the question for them to pass through Madison), this was a good way to spread the word about our shop to other crafty people. In fact, we distributed a lot of business cards and were told by several people that they'd look us up when they came throught town.
In addition to selling items and advertising the store, we were able to connect with many vendors, to do a little personal shopping, be inspired by all the creativity, do a little networking (Jo Packham of Where Women Create, one of the co-organizers, even took a look through my blurb book). We also found a few new items for the shop: some great key necklaces with initials, some fun felted flower pins, sweet owl ornaments... and other items too. It's still all a little fuzzy.
Oh, and we got to eat delicious pastries. These were our late night treat on our first night, scrumptious lovelies from Patisserie 46. I have a number of friends in the area and it was really nice to have the opportunity to reconnect with them (also over delicious dinners). To be honest, I'm still a little full from everything that we ate. Unfortunately, we were not up in the Cities long enough to see all the people we know. Clearly, next time, I will need to spend more time there. At least Sachi got out to do some shopping - there were several stores that we've been wanting to check out, including Hunt & Gather and i like you (which gets its own blog post).
The lovely Deandra came to help us out with set up and pack up, as well as with chauffering Sachi around to all the shops. Seriously, isn't she lovely? With her help, we packed up in record time - the show was over at 5 pm on Saturday night and we were in the car by 6 pm. It definitely helps to use suitcases for both displaying and packing.
On Saturday night we went to Paper Source and then ate Uptown. I know, I know, there were many more charming places to eat but after shopping at Paper Source, I was struck by hunger that meant I couldn't go even a few more blocks before getting dinner.
And then Sunday morning we stopped once again at Patisserie 46 for pain au chocolat and pastries to take home for Dad. The drive home is long, but the fall colors are starting to make their appearance so there were little vignettes of fall lovelieness that we passed by. Now all that remains is the unpacking and the laundry and the catching up... oh, and a little jaunt across the lake to visit relatives. I'll be back on Thursday; Sachi and Pamela are tending the shop in the meantime.