Saturday, July 31, 2010 I participated in Carver, Massachusetts Old Home Day craft fair. I had some misgivings abut the fair before I registered. They didn’t appear well organized and weren’t set up to send email. Also there were a lot of activities and I had read that these type of events bring lookers not buyers. But The Expo for the Senses also had special events and I sold my book, Not of My Making, there. So I decided to give Carver a try.
The night before the fair I received a phone call telling me my booth space was number 38, near the restrooms. Oh no, I thought, will it smell? I also read that being near the restrooms is not a good location. But crafters don’t get to choose their spot. You have to accept what you get and work with it.
I decided to arrive earlier than the usual two hour set up. I have read and later learned through experience that the earlier you start the better. If you finish setting up before the start of the fair you can use the time to relax and/or visit the other vendor’s booths. So far I haven’t finished early but hope as I streamline my setup I will. I would like to see what other people are selling besides my immediate neighbors. Right now I work alone putting up my tent and putting out my rosaries, chaplets and books for display. I am considering purchasing jewelry trays and loading my products before I arrive at the fair. Rena Kingenberg does it that way.
I was the second vendor to arrive at the Carver fair grounds. Pleased with my early arrival I found my space but was unsure if the markings on the ground indicated the front or back of the booth line. We were in a pine grove and there were trees to consider. I asked the man setting up the clam bake. He informed me where he thought the front line was and also told me I could park my car among the trees behind my tent. I didn’t need to unpack my car and drive to another location to park. I could leave some things in the car using it as my “back room”.
Set up proceeded smoothly until I tried to get my tent up myself. It no longer slides easily when you pull it out. The clam bake man assisted me while I wondered if I should purchase some silicone spray to help reduce the friction. Later while talking to Chelsea from Chelsea Cottage Crafts, I learned she uses vasoline.
With Chelsea’s help I opened my tent. While I was weighing down my tent, putting up my tables and putting out my products, an older man arrived and told me he was my neighbor for the day. “I never bring a canopy for this fair,” he said. “You don’t need it. The trees give lots of shade.”
“Yes, they do,” I replied. “But I wasn’t aware of that. This is my first time here.” Besides, I thought, I want to set up a little shop that’s inviting.
George, the older man, was chatty and wanted to talk about himself, his three failed marriages, and his current girlfriends. I am task oriented and wanted to get my booth set up. I also felt uncomfortable and unsafe around him. I feared he was a womanizer.
George also told me not to expect too much traffic. Everyone hangs around the clam bake. Enjoy the music and the people, he said. Don’t be upset that you don’t make any money.
I retreated to my tent and sat in my chair. I called my husband. I tried to be positive. Maybe George was wrong. I prayed that I would sell at least one book and make enough money to cover my costs.
Except for some smoke coming from the clam bake it was pleasant to be in the park. The venders circled the bandstand so we got to enjoy the music, too.
Chelsea, my neighbor to my left, was friendly but not as intrusive as George. We helped each other out during the day. She greatly admired my tent and my products. She purchased a rosary necklace for her aunt. I was hopeful that this was a good sign.
It wasn’t. Lots of admirers, lots of lookers. No buyers. No interest in my book. I worried that my prices were too high. I talked to Chelsea. She was doing well. Her prices were $5 and below. I had a few $5 items but no one bought them. A little girl kept coming back. She finally asked me if I would give her the bracelet she had been admiring for free. I was surprised by her boldness and politely told her no.
I decided to check out how George was doing. He kept things simple. A couple of tables, no cloths, and a chair. He was selling wood boxes from Poland. A reseller. I thought that was prohibited. They were beautiful boxes with designs burned into them and his prices were as high or higher than mine. He was doing a brisk business. Perhaps people are more willing to spend the money on a product that was more utilitarian than mine. While the people of Carver were friendly they didn’t appreciate prayer beads. I wondered what the predominant denomination was in Carver. Congregationalist? Unitarian? Were there any Catholics or Episcopalians?
I did meet one woman who was wearing a Christian motorcycle club T-shirt. She came into my booth and we talked. She had just moved out of Carver to Avon. She admired the prayer shawl I was crocheting. She told me about how her mother recently received one and felt so loved and cared for that someone would take so much time and effort just for her.
She looked at my prayer beads and said, “These aren’t magical.”
“No, of course not,” I replied immediately recognizing she was from a non-liturgical Christian tradition. I picked up a chotki. “Look,” I said. “These prayer beads are from the Eastern Orthodox tradition. There are 33 beads, one for each year of Jesus’ life. On each bead you pray the Jesus prayer. The beads are simply a way to keep track of how many you have said like an abacus. They are also like the prayer shawl that brought your mother comfort. They remind people of God’s love and grace. The salvation bracelet reminds us of Christ’s victory over sin.
The various chaplets of the different saints reminds us of their stories and encourages us to emulate them in our own striving to do what God commands. The stories of the saints are like the family stories your grandmother told you.
Mid morning I was famished. I hadn’t had time to prepare lunch for myself. The Missionettes from the local Assembly of God stopped by. They were selling baked goods. A banana muffin was just what I needed. And it only cost me fifty cents.