Monday, November 15, 2010

Disappointment and Silver Linings

The bright idea wasn’t actually mine.  My grandmother died several years ago, leaving us with a gigantic (no exaggeration there) doll collection.  She purchased these for anywhere between $50-$200ish.  Fair market value today?  $10-$30.  Okay, obviously not a wise investment.  Not sure she bought them for the potential appreciation value, or if it was more about the expressions on their little faces.  The twin dolls that are “oh so cute”.  Or the myriad of different styles – laughing, crying, playing…some with open mouths, some with eye lashes…

So, my mom and I discussed sharing a booth and putting the dolls out there, along with a section for my little business.  Sounded like a really great idea, in theory.
Rustic Carvings didn’t fair too well at the craft fair.  I started doubting myself all over the place.  Are my prices too high?  Is the stuff not good enough?  Maybe I should paint them instead?  What am I doing wrong?
Didn’t help that everyone walked into the space and went, “Dolls!!!”, completely ignoring my items.
Okay, that hurts.  (Maybe I’m too sensitive about the stuff I’ve made, but man, that hurts!)
I had to get out of the space, and it was only around 11am on Saturday.  My feelings were hurt.  Then I walked around and saw that the fair was filled with food, soap, jewelry, and kitschy stuff like bird houses made out of laundry detergent bottles.  That dude said he made $400 on Saturday with them.
People are mean, too.  They say stuff like “I could make that”.  ”Why are you charging that?”  To one that is shaped like a Jerusalem cross, one woman said, “Does that really count as a cross?”  Hi!  (waves hand)  In case you haven’t noticed, I’m a person, with feelings. It took everything in me not to say, “Do you really count as a human being?!”
I was grumpy.
Not to mention on Saturday, people were more impressed with the towel “cake” my mom made for display purposes, than with the wooden, personalized, wedding cake stand I crafted.  ”Oooh, you make those? Any color?”  I’d get excited and say, “Yeah, know anyone getting married?”  They’d say, “No, but where do you buy the towels?”
Next one…  ”I just love these, you know you can make them out of anything – diapers, towels, washcloths.  I used to make dogs out of washcloths for baby showers.”  I’d say, “Ma’am, I make the cake stand below the towels.”  ”Oh,” she’d say, and walk away, unimpressed.
Next one….  ”Did you make that?”  ”Yes,” I’d say.  ”I used to make them out of diapers.”
Sigh.  Sigh…. SIGH!!!  I eventually took it down.  It was so disappointing.
I talked to the few booths that had “real art”, or handmade items for sale….they were struggling, too.  It made me feel better that it wasn’t just me.  It made me feel bad for the world as a whole – not appreciating real handcrafted artwork.  There is a reason artists starve.
So, although a disappointment, I’m choosing to look at some silver linings:
1) Craft shows aren’t the place for Rustic Carvings.  It’s not that my items aren’t good, it was the wrong audience.
2) I had some really nice conversations with old men about woodcraft, tools, and how much they appreciate what I do for a living.
3) One of my longtime best friends came up to the show on Saturday, and without her sitting beside me, helping me laugh, I would have been bawling in the booth by myself.  We definitely got in some needed quality time.
4) A couple customers came by to see me, and I was floored by how much they appreciate what I’ve made.
5) Turning your table around to face the aisle can make a big difference on Day 2.
6) I got my business card out there, and talked to a few people interested in custom designs.
7) But, mostly, the really great part of the whole thing is that Mom sold so many of my Grandmother’s dolls!  It was awesome to see them go to people that would really appreciate them again.  Instead of the dolls sitting in a box in the closet.  I’m going to tally up the funds today and see how we did.  Craft shows, like that, may be the best means to get rid of them.  Ahem, I mean find them all “good homes” with “adoptive families”. 
Once I chose to look past my own circumstance, my mother’s smiles, as each “baby” found a new home, made up for my business disappointment.  For sure.  110%.

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