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Christkindlmarkt 2011: Day 7

It was a great day to cap off the second week of the event. I had a steady flow of customers and the weather was beautiful so the tent was warm all day.

Dad was nice and warm over in his hut as well but fell short of his days sales goals by $3... In all I am very happy with his sales for the weekend and I am very proud of the hard work he has been putting in.

My sales fell short of last year's, but I have the two strongest weeks of sales coming up so I think I will catch up and do just fine.

Today I am thankful for my best friend and her husband. C locked himself out of the house and her husband came to the rescue with the spare key. It saved up a lot of grief, either with an emergency lock smith or breaking a window (which probably would be cheaper to fix than calling a locksmith). After the show we met for dinner and got to blow off some steam and compare notes and most importantly have fun and laugh a lot.

She is afraid for me. She is afraid that taking part in both craft events this winter will anger the ArtsQuest gods and I will be blackballed from their events next year. I have more faith in them than that. Yes there are rumors that this has happened to other artisans, but I don't think that any situation is that easy to explain, and I don't think that listening to rumors and hearsay is the way to make business decisions.

I made a business decision based on what I thought would be best for my business and my family. I looked at my financial needs, the crumbling economy, and my options. Being that we only travel 60 miles from the house for craft shows, there are only so many I can choose from to participate in. Yes, that means some weekends dad and I will be at competing shows, but that can't be avoided. And I am like the mayor of Bethlehem, I think both of these events compliment each other and having them both is an amazing opportunity for the city itself.

I believe that ArtsQuest will continue to support the local artisan and I will continue to support it and have faith in them as long as it does just that.


Christkindlmarkt 2011: Day 6

So today was a good day. I won the Hedge vs Dad sales battles for the day. We promised from now on we wouldn't be in a contest about it, but it is hard not to do for the first few days and is kinda fun to compare.

But as I promised I wanted to think of good things, be thankful for things, and project that attitude out into the world. I think I did pretty good. I started out dressing up nice, it was a warm do so I could wear a skirt without getting too cold.

So here are the things I am thankful for:

1) I am thankful for my neighbors. Barry and Sandy G (and Cindy) make the best neighbors. They check on me and take care of me when I need it, and are friendly, but understand when customers are there who comes first, and don't complain about things all day. They are my favorite neighbors.

2) The aisles are wider this year. When it gets busy there is much more room for people to maneuver around. Especially the wheelchairs and strollers. There is actually enough room to keep a stroller in the aisle without blocking it while mom or dad shop.

3) Parking is much better, both for patrons and for artisans. It is so nice not to have to get there early and squish my car in someplace just to have it blocked in when I go to leave.

4) Having Sandy come stay with us. My artisan friend comes and stays with us each weekend. I love having this time with her each week and I look forward to having someone to talk to who understands the uniqueness of our jobs.

5) Seeing faces I recognize. I love catching up with artisans I only see once a year and seeing how our lives have been going. I love hearing all the stories of the past twelve months of shows and life. I also love seeing customers that I know. It is amazing how many over the years I have started to recognize as repeat customers. I have always been bad with names, but I know the faces and remember odd details, like their favorite soaps or their husbands birthday. I sometimes surprise them by remembering these things, and I always hope they don't think I'm creepy, it's just the way my brain works.

OK, so those are five things I thought of yesterday while in between customers, I plan on thinking of more today and I want to make a gratitude list each day, even if it is only one thing. I need to keep my head up, my attitude positive, and pt out into the world h energy I want to get back from it.


Christkindlmarkt 2011: Day 5

November 25, 2011

My father kicked my butt...in an 8 foot x 8 foot hut, nestled in the Sun Inn courtyard, at a brand new event, my father sold more than I did.

Now I had my best day so far at Christkindlmarkt, but by no means was it the Black Friday of yesteryear. The show seemed relatively full of customers, but I think it was more full of crafter drama than I ever remember it. They set up two artisans who do relative the same thing across from one another, almost immediately when you walk in the door. One told me that she was apologized to for the mistake, but I think a reimbursement is in order in some way for the lost revenue and the grief of having a competitor right at your door.

It rained again during the off days, so at least half the artists and have soaking wet rugs again. There is only so much the shop vac can dry out when the macadam underneath is wet.

I am tired of all the drama, I hide in my booth and people still come to me to complain because they have time to wander around outside their booths. I just want to come to work, put my head down, sell soap, and go home to my family and friends.

My only real complaint this year is the food. I don't know if it is the wind, or the placement of the heater unit intake, or what, but this is the only year I have ever had the heavy smell of grease in my booth. It is sad when a 10 foot by 15 foot booth is full of soap and customers comment on the grease smell. I am farther away from them than I have been in the past, so it has to be something about the new set up. But I barely ate all day because I found the smell overwhelming. I give thanks to the fact I am not across from them.

OK... my goal for tomorrow is to find a list of ten positive things about the move and new set up. It is too easy to dwell on the negative, and you get back from the universe what you put out into the universe, so from right now I am focusing on the positive and changing my attitude!!!


Christkindlmarkt 2011: Day 4

November 20: Day 4 of 19

Sales Sunday were the second best of the weekend, but that's not saying much. Happy to say this week is over. Glad I have a few days off. And blessed by every dollar and sale I made, because I know I did better than many who attended this weekend.


There is a list of things that just make me say WTF????

1) Shows are usually set up in a way that the majority of the people turn to their right as soon as they enter. This one is backwards, everyone is forced to go left, or go around the stage, through the food, and then get to crafts if they go right. And when they leave the first tent, the have to go left into the craft tent, the whole thing is set up "backwards".

2) People enter into the darkest part of the tent- the food court- leaving the brightness of a clear day, it takes a while for your eyes to adjust to the utter darkness of the food court area and can be downright disorientating. The opposite happens when they leave, they are blinded by the sunlight, and it will be worse when there is reflection from snow.

3) If you do come in and turn left, one of the first booths puts a cup in your hand. It is a sample of some drink mix. But the first rule of merchandise is to keep peoples hands empty so they will keep filling them. Basic theory of a shopping cart, and the reason why most places offer "to take that" while you look around more. Empty hands mean more purchases. And there are no garbage cans in that isle anywhere for people to get rid of this empty cup, so that whole row deals with cups being left on displays and becoming garbage cans for little cups all day.

4) Selling cigars- really? Isn't this a family show? This is allowed? Is there licensing involved for that? And are they doing a proper ID check with purchase? And since they are soaked in alcohol, does that change things even more? This whole booth makes me shutter every time I pass it. It just feels wrong and to have it be one of the first things you see is wrong on even more levels.

5) What is the deal with grouping all the like vendors together in one big bunch. The first row has cinnamon beeswax (and will have two vendors of it next week), soap (not me), and candles all withing 10 booths of each other. Talk about sensory overload. And jewelry people set up across from one another? Was this place just filled first come first serve, because if someone planned this, I do not understand their thought process at all.

6) And the poor crafters that face the food vendors, all they look at is peoples butts all day. The lines for food extend into their booths, keeps out customers, and the food smell permeates their displays and clothes. Nothing like going home without sales and smelling like fried pickles. I could get that at a street fair, I don't expect that at a high end event like this.

7) And where are the garbage cans? It isn't just the little cups that are a problem, but each row should end with a garbage can, at the very least. Or in the center where the horizontal aisle is there could be one at every intersection. But they are no where to be found.

8) The odd thought for the day came to me from a crafts person whose booth sits between parking space lines. She swears these lines on the floor are like invisible barriers that keep people out of the booths in her row. She says you can see people look down at them (thinking maybe they re raised up some???) and then think twice about crossing them into the booth space. She is going so far as to buy a rug to cover hers to see if she can see a difference in peoples behavior in the weeks to come.

9) Is the safest way to cover a drain a piece of plywood, some sandbags, and a table and chairs? Because the drain in the middle of the food court is covered in just this way. And if it does rain hard would that mean that drain won't ...well... drain? and what happens to that water?

And after 4 days these are the things that make me shake my head and wonder....I bet next week their will be more.


Christkindlmarkt 2011: Day 3

Saturday November 19th: Day 3

OMG I think I am in a black hole... of wait, a black hole attracts things with a powerful gravitational force, I need to look up what repels things, like customers, because I don't have any.

So if I am lucky this weekend I will make in four days what I averaged in 1 last year. Seriously. Four days. OMG.

I know of two crafters who had things stolen from them so far. It may be because it has been so slow we are are not properly manning our booths, we are off chatting with our friends, eating, or doing other work.. or there just could be a higher than average loss rate this year due to the weak economy.

But the highlight of my day was that Gabe came and helped. He is very good in the booth and I think he will be a big help as the days get busier. It was good to have a trial run on this slower day so we can work together better on the really crazy ones. See I have faith, there are crazy ones to come. I pray there are crazy ones to come.


Christkindlmarkt 2011: Day 2

Day 2 Friday November 18.

Well my day could have started out better. After having a conversation with a few colleagues I realized I had been overcharged for my booth space. Great.. Now I have that to deal with that as well. Gotta figure out who the right person to talk to about that is. At least I will get a reimbursement which is never a bad thing. I found the right person, gave them my paperwork and receipt copy, so things should be all straightened out in a few days. Turns out it was just a few hours and all is right with the payment situation. Bravo on the quick fix!

I tried bringing in a lamp to use in a dark space... Didn't work, the light was great but it hid my wreath. I ended up using my clip light from my work space so now I feel like I am sitting in the dark... If we don't get customers I am going to find it hard not to take a nap. But in fact, the sunshine brightens up my booth quite a bit during the afternoon. So much in fact that the spot in the tent that is not tightly secured sends a beam of light onto the curtain between me and my neighbor, I am tacking it as it moves across my booth space and acts as a defacto sun dial. It will be a fun way to keep tract of time in the days to come.

Sales were slower even than Thursday which really surprised me. I expected people to come out after work. I can't judge till after this weekend but for me sales have been a bust, haven't even made my booth fee back yet. I know I gambled on this weekend and hoped that the pros would outweigh the cons. I loved the idea of not setting up on Thanksgiving was my main motivation for trying this out, but I certainly don't like the idea f going into this season with a loss.

So if you have been thinking of going---- go--- come out and shop-----there is cool stuff, cool people, and no lines. It's awesome!

Christkindlmarkt 2011: Day 1

Day 1- Thursday November 17. Now I wait for customers. Everyone is set up and ready to sell sell sell. There is a pervasive disappointment in the tent. Once agin, people dislike change, and put enough vendors together with nothing to distract them ( ie customers) and you get a gripe fest.

A shop vac was brought so people could vac the water out of their carpets. I decided to just let mine go, it wasn't soaking wet and I didn't feel like getting on my hands and knees to do it right.

For me I have this odd perception that the show is actually smaller than last year. It may because the show is wider with an extra row, or because the entertainment doesn't break up the vendors the same way, or because it seems there are tons of 15 and 20 foot booths rather than the typical 10 footers. But my perception is that the show is smaller with less vendors rather than bigger like they have been saying it would be. Going to pull out last years floor plan and check things out.

And can I just say there are no real bathrooms close by and the port-o-let's are so far away for me. It is going to be a cold month of long walks to do my business.

And the music is farther away from me but louder because I am no longer behind the speakers.... Fun....

Sales have been sporadic but overall better than I had expected, but not as good as I had hoped. It is getting quite cold in here, especially my feet. I am very glad I have a foot warmer and leg warmers I can put on. It certainly gets and stays warmer the more people who are in here and having customers keeps me moving and makes me warmer.

Glad the day came to an end. Tired and falling into bed for sure
Only 18 days to go...

Christkindlmarkt 2011: Day -0 (setup day 2)

Day 0: second day of set up. Arrived about ten am and was very happy that the bulk of everything had been brought in the day before, it was raining and soon began to downpour. By noon, I was questioning who designed the tent position, layout, and parking lot design. Obviously there was a communication break down somewhere. Because the rain flowed like a stream through the tent to the drain, located at the center of the tent. I am happy that the parking lot drainage system works well, but the tent and booth location in relation to said drain leaves much to be desired. Before the sump pumps were brought in and turned on, there was enough flowing water that I contemplated handing out rubber duckies to the vendors so we could all play in the water as many waited to be able to even begin their installation.

My rug is soaked and I had to get wood to boost up a few displays out of the stream in my booth, but I avoided the bulk of the water, some had a few inches before the pumps were turned on. Nothing better than starting a show with a soaking wet rug...

I got all of my inventory where I wanted it, a few little things figured out, all my wrapping area set, cash register ready, and I feel pretty good. I think there is a spot that needs more light, but that means I need to bring the ladder back and refocus a few lights. I might need one more lamp, but I am hoping to avoid that if possible.

By four I was ready to cover up everything and leave. Just a small list of things to bring for the next day and a few things to do at the house in the morning and I am set.

Christkindlmarkt 2011: Day -1 (set up day #1)

Day -1.... First day of set up for the show. Kinda hard to get used to the new set up and most people were having the same problem as me. In theory I am in the same place, next to Barry G. and right near the end of the food vendors, but since the food vendors have moved and so has the food court and entertainment, I am not really in the same spot. Also, the entrance has moved so that will impact the flow of people too. There isn't any real way to know what is going to happen till this place fills with people, and that may not happen until week three if we go by last years peak attendance days.

Overall I am not greeting a good vibe, people don't like change and it will be interesting to see what those changes bring.

As for the set up it went well. C did all the electric for me and we got all the displays up and all the inventory unloaded into the booth. We made a list of things to bring the next day and headed home. It took about five hours to accomplish all that.


Clearview Elementary School and Indian Valley Women's Club

These past few shows were all Dad's to do. I stayed home and got things ready for Chriskindlmarkt. I think I would have rather been at the shows :)

He took part in the Clearview Elementary show last year and did well. It isn't just arts and crafts, it is vendors and an auction all to raise money for the PTO. He did better than last year and he loves the event. Only three hours at night it is a short event with an easy set up and dismantle. It is inside, and well attended by people who are connected with the event. Overall he always has fun at this show and enjoys being part of it.

The next day he went down to the Indian Valley Women's Club show in Souderton. It was his first time at the show and he said that the set up and dismantle was very easy. It was a very well attended day but he noticed that the isles were quite narrow so it was hard when someone stopped at a booth and then the next person wanted to by. They plan on addressing that next year by hopefully expanding into other parts of the school the event is held in. Sales were strong, the food was good and affordable, and his neighbors were all friendly. Overall a great day and he plans on attending again next year.


St. Lukes Craft Show and Peddler's Village Apple Festival

This weekend Dad went to the St. Luke's Craft Show and Health Fair. This year they broke the show into two days- the usual Saturday show for the regular price, plus, a Friday "preview day" for an additional cost. The Friday only had a small number of spaces available, and you had to move your display at the end of the day to the location it would be in on Saturday. So it was kinda like doing two different one day shows, only within walking distance of one another.

Friday Dad did great. I was very surprised at his sales and I think it was because his location brought in many employees and patients as well. Saturday was terrible. According to Dad it wasn't just him, it was mostly everyone who was down in sales. So when you added the two days together I made $13 less than last year in one day (and paid a higher fee to be there too). But I look at the bright side, we were one of the few who had the opportunity to vend on Friday, so I feel as though the weekend could have been much worse had we just decided to do Saturday.

On a related note, I do think last weekends storm kept people from the buying mood. May people lost their whole refrigerators and freezers full of food, many had property damage, and other storm related expenses. The storm and it's impact was the topic of conversation, and I think it left many people short on extra cash this weekend.

Now the Apple Festival at Peddler's Village was really great for me this year. For some other people- not so much. But I was up over %30 from last year.

The weather during the days was beautiful. It was in the mid 50's. But let me tell you, setting up in the morning when it is a finger numbing 25 degrees out is just awful. Luckily there is a set up time available on Friday afternoons, so I just need to remember to take advantage of that in the future. It was also quite chilly once the sun started to set so our mini propane heater certainly came in handy. One other thing- pack up fact on Sunday or you will be packing by car headlight- it gets dark very fast. If I don't start cleaning up before the end of the show there is on way I would be able to get out of there while I could still see without a flashlight.

So that was my weekend- next stop for me is Chriskindlmarkt!


October 2011 Snow

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October 2011 Snow, a set on Flickr.

Here are my pictures of the October Snow Storm. We are lucky and got power back on yesterday.