My first three shows were on pavement. I was really looking forward to doing one on grass, but didn’t realize the advantages of pavement over grass. Once I did my first grass show, I realized that “everything I know I learned in kindergarten”, didn’t apply. Pavement is hot, grass is uneven and tree roots compound the problem.
My first grass show was a two-day weekend event with a Friday setup. The weekend was sunny and very nice, but Friday sucked. I drove 35 miles to the site in a monsoon. On the way over I stopped at the HD and picked up a three piece rain suite. This was a real good decision, because everyone else was trying to set up their canopies while holding an umbrella. A full rain suite gives you invincibility during a downpour and I went about my business oblivious to the problems everyone else were having, like Ez Ups blowing away before they got the stakes down. Once my canopy was up I started setting my tables, then I noticed a little challenge. I seemed to have a spot where every tree root in the park converged. My tables rocked all over the place and the tables at the front of the booth were about 2 inches lower that the ones at the back. I was on a slight slope. Someone needs to invent lightweight folding tables with adjustable legs like canopy legs.
Adjusting my canopy to the slope was easy. Just push the buttons on the legs and adjust accordingly. You couldn’t tell there was a slope by looking at the canopy. So I buttoned up the booth and headed to the truck and wouldn’t you know it, the rain stopped. On the drive back I rationalized different ways to solve the problem with the tables. It just so happens that I have a barrel full of cutoff pieces of wood that I had been saving for my outdoor fireplace this fall. So I loaded up a bag and tossed them in the truck.
The next morning I got to the site about two hours before opening and started leveling tables. Another woodworker happened by and while we were talking he noticed I was working on my table problem and asked how it was going. I replied “6/4 purpleheart on one leg, 5/4 hard maple on the other, 8/4 on both legs on the opposite table”. In this situation, size, rather than species, is important.
If you are not on pavement, you can never have enough shims. I couldn’t even sit in my director’s chair without scotching up two legs with a couple 4/4 boards. I now have a rough ground package.
Observing other crafters and their booths are important to me. I’m constantly looking at how other wood crafters display their products and how they handle the basic processes. Some work well, and others don’t necessarily fit my powers of reasoning.
For example, many crafters use a cash box. They keep all their cash and credit card receipts in this locking metal box. I looked at numerous boxes and just could not get my mind wrapped around that method. Since I do the shows solo, and I have to make an occasional trip to the port-a-john, I didn’t want to have to carry a box with me. I usually take $200 to $250 with me in different denominations and I have had as much as $1000 in cash before the show was over. I always wear cargo pants, the kind with Velcro side pockets on the thighs. I keep my cash in the left pocket and credit card receipts in the right. When I leave the booth for a quick walk-a-bout, everything important always goes with me without having to think about it. The pockets are big and deep and works perfect for my situation.
Another thing I struggled with was price tags. Most crafters individually tagged their products with either little tags on strings or an adhesive tag stuck on the product. This seemed to be the norm and I tried to use it, but tagging cutting boards is impossible unless you tie a string completely around the board, and tags won’t stick to mineral oil. So I made wood holders out of scrap, cut a ¼” slot across the width and cut rectangular plexiglass to sit in the slot. I just print out the name of the product and the price on a mailing label and stick it to the plexiglass. This way I can group like items together and just set on price sign in front of them. Since they are big letters, I never have anyone asking about the size or price.
I keep a small notebook at the shows so that if I see something that may work better or easier for me, I write it down as a “to explore” list. I have my first indoor show coming up next weekend. With 200 crafters, I think it will be a good show. Once again though, I’m going outside my comfort zone and I know I’m going to have that “deer in the headlights” feeling for a while. There is no doubt I will have another new page or two in my notebook when it’s over.
-- I don't make mistakes, only design changes....www.dgmwoodworks.com