Sunday, September 29, 2013

Not All Events Are Created Equal

Last year, after the first event of Christmas craft fair season, I was disappointed by the lackluster sales compared with the same event the previous year. I was talking about it with a veteran of this particular fair, who said “Hey, it’s a crapshoot. You just never know how things’ll turn out.” Wise words indeed. Two weeks later, I attended a similar event and sold double what I’d hoped for.

When you’re relying on weather for a turnout, then the stakes are higher. I exhibited at an outdoor event in August. In our part of the world, an August rainfall is unlikely, however, this year was an exception. The farm we were exhibiting at was situated in a valley known for damp, dewy mornings. I should have known I was in for it when all of the other exhibitors—experienced outdoor sellers to be sure—brought tents, or at least a solid canopy. I brought an umbrella and a plastic sheet to cover my books, which turned out to be a good idea because the rain came in spurts on and off all day. I lost count of the number of times we pulled the plastic sheet on and off.

This year’s WORD event (formerly known as Word on the Street)  took place over the weekend culminating in the festival’s main event on Sunday. By all accounts, the weather wasn’t looking cheery. There’d been a storm on Saturday and forecasters warned about another one for Sunday. This prompted the organizers to move everything indoors. For those of us scheduled to display our books outside the Vancouver Public Library’s perimeter, this was a godsend.

Although it was lovely to be in a warm, dry area, some of the tables were smaller and the environment was cramped. Passersby couldn’t find the table they were looking for as the program map was now useless. The walking space between the two rows of tables was narrow and the white noise was a loud, constant din. I’m pretty sure that most people were put off by the weather to begin with, and attendee numbers seemed to be significantly down.

But, hey, these things happen. It wasn’t a stellar selling day, but so what? I had a chance to see writing colleagues I hadn’t seen in months and catch up on their lives, and—because I was a panelist—I received a spiffy new T-shirt for my trouble. Would we have loved more sales? Of course. Was the day a complete bust for me? Absolutely not. Will I go again next year, rain or shine? You bet. Crapshoots are becoming my thing.

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