Once Again, Vendors at a Festival

Remembering the Hustle of Years Past

In , my partner and I started Soapy Gnome; it was her primary focus and my bonus focus.

In the early years, we had a booth at the Goshen Farmer’s Market. We’d also attend various festivals and craft shows. This helped us understand what worked, raise awareness of our brand, and meet other people that were passionate about their pursuits.

And as our retail store grew, we slowly spun down our presence at the farmer’s market. And stopped vending at craft shows and festivals.

, we once again packed up our car with vendor supplies and spent a wonderful afternoon at the Kendallville’s Fairy, Gnome, and Troll Festival.

We couldn’t have asked for a better day. The weather was 75° Fahrenheit with low humidity; a perfect mid-August day.

Across from us was the Striped Circus, an amazing and energetic duo of talented performance artists. If you have a chance to see them, please do. They had witty, yet kind, stage banter and their stunts left me in awe; and we only got a small sampling.

What we found in our loading, setting up, vending, and tearing down was that we both missed these shows. We still go to lots of craft and art shows, but as attendees, not vendors. The social distancing of the last 16 months made poignant our fond memories of past shows.

For those that have never vended a show, it involves being curious about those stopping at your booth. Gently asking a question or two and giving space for them to engage and share a bit about what drew them to your booth.

And in those lulls between customers, we invariably talk with our fellow vendors. We learn about their creative passion, their pets, and all kinds of odds and ends. It’s also a great opportunity to find local crafters who might be ready to wholesale their works at our shop.

For this festival, my partner and I found that we had grown rusty at being vendors. We were poorly packed, that is to say for the amount of stuff we brought, it both took up more space than it should have. And our skills at using our smart phones as cash registers felt clunky. It didn’t help that we kept having issues with our credit card reader.

We also agreed that we enjoyed doing these festivals and are committing to doing one or so a year.