No matter in what capacity, it’s always difficult to put yourself out there. Even a trip to the market to buy milk and eggs can be an invitation to others to judge your outfit, hair, face, choice of product and how you interact with the clerk. Your affect as you stroll the aisles will be judged: do you look friendly? Are you someone someone else would want to know or are you invisible? Going to dinner or some other social function opens that door wider: now it’s your dress, your jewelry, your make-up, the guy hanging (or not) on your arm. Mailing out something I’ve written gets passed around the editorial office. Then, if judged favorably, it is published and therefore judged by all who read it. Even some who don’t read it will judge it just because. So I’m okay–for the most part–with being judged. But this weekend I heard some pretty irritating things about my company’s merchandise. It would have been easier to swallow had I made a financial windfall, but the people who were there weren’t opening their wallets for anyone; I feel grateful for the few sales I got. And the comments. Most were wonderful. I got to meet some great people in a city I have never been to. It’s a po-dunk city, which I didn’t know before investing in its craft show, but some things pay with a wealth of knowledge rather than dollar bills. Sometimes you have to know where you definitely don’t belong to help you decide where you do. Some of the positives:
1. Dallas. Dallas was a wonderful lady selling chain by the inch set up next to me and Arty Party. She shared with me her craft show binder, gave me tips on which cities and events were a right fit for Lisa on The Left (my company with AP). I also learned from her and the kind gentleman behind me selling gourmet doggie treats the importance of weighing down your tent. In fact, this craft show in particular was filled with kind, hard-working, helpful people. They made sitting in the sweltering, stifling, Florida sun with no action a little more bearable.
2. Justification of all I had done right. I’m not craft show clueless, but almost. But after living here in Florida less than a month and having only three weeks to prepare for the show, including buying and making everything, opening a business account, getting tax papers, learning how to pitch an Easy-open tent (first time not as easy as you’d think), securing a credit card machine and learning how to use it, finding the craft show, mapping out the route and the hotel nearby . . . I’m proud that when it came time to deliver, I had done a job comparable to some of the people doing this for years. It surprised me how competent I am. And that I was surprised to discover that was another surprise in itself; I need to give myself more credit.
3. The God Shot. I’ll tell you the first day, Saturday, we made twenty bucks. That’s right: one sale, twenty bucks. Within the first hour. Had to sit there for seven more. We had one lady come up and pick out a couple things and promise to be back Sunday. We held her items aside for her. We were discussing not even coming back, but now we had to. She said she’d come at ten in the morning. Ten on Sunday: no lady. Eleven. Twelve. AP’s like, let’s blow this town, I’m sick of this. I reminded her the importance of follow-through. Of seeing something to its completion. I reminded her of the musician friends we’ve had who spent the first five to ten years of their careers playing for crowds that consisted of their mothers and friends. I said, “What if the Lighting was down 10-0 in the first period; would they just leave the ice and forfeit the game? No. You play to the end. That’s what winners do. They don’t quit.” So she grumbled but stayed. One o’clock came. I look at most of the people strolling by: $5 t-shirts, no teeth, whisky-faced, carrying bags of free goodies handed out by the Association. No way are these people going to spend $20 for a necklace, no matter how beautiful. And the knit hats; had they ears and feelings they would have committed mass hatricide for all the nasty “It’s too hot for hats” comments disguised behind snappy quippy gee-I’m-so-cute-and-clever snide remarks. Go into a mall, fool: yeah, all the fall and winter clothes are out, it’s called the fashion industry, not everyone shops in the Walmart three for a dollar bin. But I calm down. Like I said, you put yourself out there, not everyone is going to be nice, not everyone is going to spread the love. Smile and ignore. Two pm. No lady. Not one sale. Then some girl comes up with a man and two kids and fingers the owl necklaces. She says something about owls being so trendy now. He says they’re nice; she calls them “hipster crap.” I say, “Thanks. What a lovely thing to say.” She looks up at me as if just noticing that someone is there, someone is selling these, a real person made these by hand, they are her own personal designs. Actually, I’m sure she doesn’t even know that. She can’t comprehend it. As AP said, only thing she knows how to make is babies. She says they’re pretty, as an apology, I guess, but the damage is done. Now my spirit is broken. I agree with AP: let’s get the hell out of here. Yesterday’s twenty bucks won’t even cover the gas for the ride home.
It takes me about half an hour to pre-pack the car. I pull it around and we pack up the rest. Just as we’re rounding the corner to put in the last load and drive off, we run smack into our lady from Saturday who had us pull the stuff for her. She looks at us, horrified that we are leaving. She came down there just for us. AP assures her we would have contacted her once we got home (she works locally). She buys her stuff, I swipe her credit card right there in front of the car in the middle of the street, and we are off. The timing of it. God Shot, plain and simple.