Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Ignoring the "knowing"

I am back at the compound and pretty darn happy to be here, in fact giddy!  
As posted earlier, the prep for this show was agonizing.  Self inflicted but nonetheless agonizing and tortuous!  This is a signal from my "knowing" self to stand down and stay home!  
I think I hit my lowest when I was eating hot buttered popcorn and packing shiny glazed pots in tissue paper.  As I unpacked at the show and peeled the butter stained tissue paper off glassy fingerprinted pots I realized I wasn't listening anymore and was in craft fair coma. 

Packed up Thursday morning in 65 degree weather, it was beyond awesome!  I was dragging my feet to the bank, dragging my feet to the gas station, dragging my feet to do my laundry, dragging my feet as I put the chickens in solitary lock up.  My dragging butt left skid marks all over town, indeed my very own crap circles. 
 North of Columbus I exited the road and booked a room in a hotel I had never heard of.  Picking up a travel pamphlet in the rest area I tore out the coupon for $49 a night.  I exited the road at the designated place and found the hotel with no problem.  They honored the coupon, I drove to the show never seeing the room as they were still cleaning.  
Arriving at 3 p.m. and backing the trailer into the horse paddock arena I began to unload in foot deep sawdust and horse poop, I love this place and I know poop when I see it!  
The tenth trip back and forth with the trolly it always hits me just how much inventory I take to these shows.  Still shell shocked from previous shows this year I have no idea what people are buying anymore.  I took high end pots and $28 mugs.  

By 7:00 pm we were starved, tired and drove off to find food.  The only thing we could find was a Taco Bell.  A young man took our order and passed two big gulp cups over the counter.  We didn't order drinks...... Oh Senior Citizens drink free!  I went over the counter after him.... WE ARE NOT SENIOR CITIZENS, WE ARE TIRED!  I must have looked crazed as he apologized and said no problem, just take the drinks!  Fine, I choked down my ice tea and bean burrito.
By 10 pm the booth was up, pots were in place and I was toast. 

Butch followed me to the hotel, kissed me goodbye in the freezing rain and headed for home, 3 hours up the road.  He had to take his Mom to a Dr.'s appt. in the morning.  I was face down before he was out of Columbus.  

4:20 a.m. I woke up and thought, what idiot is sawing wood in the parking lot?  I bolted to the window to yell something obscene and realized it was a construction worker scraping ice off his windshield!  
That freezing rain had coated a few things, I went back to bed.  The rest of the morning a host of construction works scraped their trucks out, gunned engines and yelled at each other.  By 6:45 a.m. I was up and showering.  The doors at the show opened at 7:30 am and I needed coffee and food.  One foot out the door of my second floor outside suite I left the biggest butt skid down two flights of icy steps.  Slipped out to the truck, finding it encased in ice.  Back up the two flights of death steps, getting hot water in an ice bucket from the shower and butt skid back out to the truck.  Poured over door locks and got my key in the lock before it froze again.  Success!  But the whole door was frozen to the frame.  Back up the steps of death and one more bucket of HOT water.  Second trip worked. 
Ran into the Piggley Wiggly super store next to my hotel for an apple, coffee, craisins and peppermint candy.  One and only one check out point was open!  Sliding in front of me, an old man with a shopping cart full of groceries and COUNT THEM, 5 poinsettias!  Gold chain bracelet, golf tan, Nike shoes, gold chain link necklace, and his dyed "Touch of Gray, Just for Men" hair and says;  Honey,  you gotta be quicker.  Are you the father of a certain Taco Bell Boy?  I backed out and ran to customer service.  Can you check me out Hilda?  Well ma'am, I sure can!  Great!  I tossed my booty on the counter and Hilda says, Oh darn, you've got yourself some apples and bulk peppermint candies and I don't have a scale.  Well, Hilda are you telling me I have to get back in line behind that old man with the poinsettia forest and mountain of hair dye?  Hilda, what happened to customer service?  Have a nice day and you can put my stuff away.  
I flew out the door and off to the show.  No coffee, no food, rush hour traffic and now late in a frozen truck.  Arghhhhh!   

Made it before the show opened.  Ticketed my pots and waited for the crowds.  Someone in the next booth leaned over and said school had been cancelled for the day.  No worries I thought.  I watched the crowd.  There were people in Rascals (motorized wheelchairs) racing down the aisles.  There were a lot of people in handicap chairs.  I have no problem with people in silver wheels or the elderly and I like everybody, in fact if I were a dog I would be a beagle or yellow lab!  But I thought hmmmmm.... this is a different crowd than I had seen in previous art shows I have participated in.  Ok I confess I gasped once when an older woman in Rascal turbo racer came flying in my booth and slammed on the brakes.  She asked what are these?  I mean, what do ya do with these?  I laughed out loud and said Whoa there little lady!  She threw her Rascal in reverse and ran into the hat lady, speeding off to another booth, probably the glass guy.  I wanted to yell, go to the scarf guy or the pillow lady!  

The weather grew worse and by 3:00 pm the place looked pretty empty.  
Just another 5 hours to go!  Thankfully Mary and Theresa stopped by to say Hi!  
They drove down from Cleveland and were oblivious to the impending doom predicted by the weather station.  The apocalypse was here!  Yup, nothing screams get to an art show like a frenzied weather guy telling you the electric lines would soon be dangling in the streets.  OH and fill your bathtubs as water pipes were sure to be bursting........ nothing happened, except empty aisles.   

 Finally 8 pm arrived and the show closed. 
Out to the parking lot........ Yikes!  
Dug out and hoped the parking lot would clear while I scraped.

Nope!  Two exits open and over 400 artists wanted out.  

The next morning was Saturday and we were off to the races until 3 p.m.   The floor was abuzz with OSU predictions and people were just titillated with anticipation of the GAME.  Kick off, 8:15 pm. 
Oh yeah, look at that pottery,  do you have a spoon rest?  Um no.  The potter at the end of my aisle has them.  And her friend whispers..... but those are $24, the guy in aisle 1000 has them for $16 and off they went looking for the $16 spoon holders.  By 4 p.m the aisles were empty. 

 I was gambling my livelihood on a college football game.   8 pm the show closed and I was back in the Piggly Wiggly looking for dinner.  Day old sushi, a bag of chips and leftover craisins.  Dream big! 

Sunday we opened at noon.  Someone had delivered notices of booth owners retiring or going out of business with all inventory 50 -70% off.  One guy was selling his Sprinter for $10,000.  I sold my pro-panels to the jewelers across the way from me.  We were moderately busy, I had three women in my booth!  Two were bemoaning the loss of the OSU game.  It reminded me of a wake.  I couldn't help myself, I had to say something...... Oh are you speaking of Nelson Mandela?  They left the booth.  The lady looking at pots on the other side, looked up and said,  Good One!  We high fived, she bought a mug and said, these people need to get a grip!  
5 pm the show closed......... Butch arrived to help pack!  

He asked why it took so long to pack up?  Because I was coming home with as many pots as I brought!
We drove home in freezing rain, found a Starbuck's in the dark, backed the trailer in the driveway around midnight.  I kissed the ground, my lips froze to the asphalt, grabbing the flashlight I went out to gather the frozen eggs.  I was home!  This morning the coffee never tasted so good or the wood stove so warm.  The trailer goes on the market in the Spring.  I'm not saying I will never do another show but I will do it differently.  The 6 hour set ups are done!  I hate sleeping in hotels, I hate eating alone, I think the alone thing is the biggest thing I hate.  On the river, in the garden, alone is great! 

All weekend there were rumors about booths.  The show had added more artists, the show couldn't find enough artists.  Whatever the truth might be there was stuff that should have not been in a juried fine craft show.  There should not have been artists doing tie dying demonstrations next to artists trying to make a living selling work.  There should not have been artists in a dark back row of over 400 booths.  The show should not go to 8 pm at night.  The hours are grueling, especially if you work alone.  The show promoters were all wonderful but said the numbers through the door were fantastic.  At $7 a head I'm sure they did OK.  They did acknowledge Friday was slow but in fact they made it up on Saturday.  My sales were double last year.  This year, I made expenses and not a penny more, I am grateful, many did not.  

Looking back over the last weekend there were a few high spots.  Craftsmen are just the best people around!  It doesn't matter if you're a new kid on the block or an old timer.  I watched two old timers in wheel chairs set up a booth, their work was fantastic and they were great to talk with.  No crowds, no problem!  We talk, we horse trade, we laugh a lot, we really like each other!  Well except one jeweler who kept asking me if I was burning incense.  Oh smell me!   We have a grand old time!  We laugh a lot, we drink quite a bit and most of us have a deep respect for each other.  I had great neighbors!  Whiskey Joe's, Ivy Rose, Pam, The Hat lady, Pat, Rick Paladin (hats off, you make great pots and tools!) Mark Nafzinger (thank you!), Gail Russell (move your bees!) all ......... just the best.  



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  3. I love your blog. You write so well. I laughed with you and hurt for you. I' ve been there! Kudos!

  4. Devastating(ly funny) review. I hate to be so solipsitic where your pain is concerned, but I have been second-guessing myself about Winterfair ever since summertime. You just made me feel SO much better about my decision.

    Sorry you had to be the canary in the mineshaft.

  5. Hi MaryLou! Thanks for stopping by :)

  6. Yep, your this year was my last year, and you see what I did this year.... Lost 16 pounds and found new things to love! Went winter camping, took a workshop. I am too close to being one of those senior citizens to do these waste of time shows anymore. The one that did me in last year was the Carolina Designer Craftsmen. My favorite comment from that horrible experience was from a customer that asked if the building was constructed on a burial site, haha! It was that creepy! I had some folks in my studio this past weekend that went to it this year, and it seems I made a wise choice to pull out,it was even worse this year.
    Ugh,shows, gotta be a better way!

  7. John, I actually thought about you! You had mentioned you might want to do WinterFair again, I'd think hard. Ohio weather in Dec. and football are two big variables balancing or not balancing your checkbook. I need to sit down and count exactly how many potters were there but there was an over abundance. Two potters making the same things, bread bakers, candle holders and spoon rests, very similar glazes and paid for a corner booth were across from each other. That makes me question the show. With over 400 booths why would this happen? Oh well live and move forward :) have great holidays!

  8. Tracey! I was just over at your blog leaving comments :) agree there has to be a better way! The last few shows I have been using clear glass puddles as price tags with a tab of museum putty to keep them in place. They look better than a big old white sticker. Had a woman ask, why is this piece of glass $28? That was it for me :)

  9. My first year not doing Winterfair in the last dozen years. Thanks for the affirmation Sandy and sorry for week.

  10. The total this year according to the guide:

    456 artists, some with double booths.

    I did not count the farm market vendors or food vendors, add another 40 if you are keeping score.

    46 potters.......

    and of course more jewelers than you can count.

    attendance, 30,000 last year at $7 a head..... I think that is a bit high but even if half came through the door, they took in $105,000.
    If 30,000 came through the door that would be; $210,000. Oh and it was $5 to park too, but I think the fair grounds gets that.

    Booth fee was $505 for a 10 x 10 booth (includes jury fee $25) Taking in $230,280 in booth fees. No idea what they charge food vendors. Soooooo Bob, feel better?

    Toss in hotel, food, gas ....... guess who's getting the money :) not the artists!