Saturday, November 14, 2009

I Have Gone Minimalist (but the post is long)

This evening I have decided to share with all of you the glamor and glitz that is the life of the stamping artist craft-show participant. That was a lie. There is no glamor or glitz anywhere NEAR the life of a stamping artist craft show participant. Lots of sweat and sore muscles, but I do not plan to show you that.

So this will be a simple expose (pronounced ex-po-zay) on what it takes for me to set up a booth at one of these craft shows. How is this different from one of my weekly markets, you may ask? And so you may (ask)! I have WALLS when I do craft shows. For a quick review, here is what my booth looks like at a craft show.

Now, let's look at all the crap stuff that goes into setting up a booth, and how it all fits into my poor, abused vehicle. Here's the back of the car:

In all fairness, starting from the bottom and working up, we have one table, a folding chair and a small table (white-ish), topped by two more tables. All of these are used in my farmers markets. These live in my car full-time, as in "12 months a year". I have no where else to put them. Seriously.

Today we have additional STUFF on top of those tables. Normally I have the parts for my card rack back here, but as you can see, there is no room. We'll get to them in a sec.

So on top of the tables we have the wooden 3-panel peg-board screen I got last summer. This is super-perfect to act as a barrier or privacy screen in a tent set-up, but also between two booth spots at an indoor show. Also, I have hanging tabs for a lot of my note packs and last year I hung them on the peg-board to free up table space. It weighs about 729 pounds. I KID! It only weighs about 65 pounds.

On top of the peg-board thing are my wall parts. These are 6' panels that come apart. The company that makes them also sells them in full 6' sections, but they would not fit in my car, so I got the sectionals.

To the right of all that is a pile of card racks. These eventually get hung on the walls with S-hooks and secured with cable ties.

On top of the wall parts are a few boxes that, well, I had no where else to put in the car. You will see why momentarily.

Here is one side of the back seats:

What a mess. Under that blanket are plastic boxes of cards that live in the car from May-Oct because (repeat after me) I have no where else to store them. You can see the wire card racks on top of those, and the sorry little fake tree stuffed in the only available space left in this vehicle, which was the floor. On top of all THAT is the ever-present base for my spinner rack.

That blanket is not to hide anything. I am not that nuts. It is to keep the sun off the cards, as they fade with time if exposed to the sun. Ask me how I know.

Here is the other side of the back seat:

You can see the boxes of cards here cuz the pesky wooden screen has shoved the blanket off of it. Those boxes are actually supporting the wooden screen and everything else on top of it. These boxes should be sainted.

You can also see the feet of the wall sections. If I am not careful, they touch the window on the back door and screech screeeeeech like fingers on a chalkboard when I drive. I have actually pulled over, stopped the car, and rearranged these things to save what's left of my sanity.

And since I needed to also take the bases for the walls, here they are, stuffed behind my driver's seat.

Every time I put my seat back to get out of the card yesterday and today, I got a resounding CLANG. Lovely.

Remember I said my spinner rack parts usually live on top of the tables in the back of the car? Well look where they had to live because of all that extra stuff:

Yep - front seat. I had to squeeze my black bag onto the floor. Yes, I'd say this baby was packed pretty tight. Although, in years past, I had 8 sets of wall sections instead of only three, but I did not have the wooden screen. Those babies piled right up to the ceiling! I have sold all but three of the walls.

NOTE: This is the full car I had taken to IKEA when I realized I could not fit the new chair in the car. And you thought I was kidding. Now that I think about it, that chair would have fit in the Miata ....

OKAY. So picture this: Friday morning, overslept because I had fitful sleep Thursday night. Tired. Full day at the Day Job, and a frustrating one at that. Drive to the venue after work, in the dark, to set up most of the stuff so Saturday morning is just last-minute stuff. With unloading the car and all the bumper cars that goes on Saturday morning, this is usually a good plan. PLUS, it takes me about 2 hours to set up all the stuff for the walls, so Friday night is a most-excellent option for me.

It is dark. It is raining. I took the wrong road to get there, again. By the time I got there, I was late and tired and crankier than usual. I made an executive decision to NOT USE THE WALLS! That's right. After all I went through to retrieve them from storage and reconfigure the car stacks-o-stuff, I opted to leave all of it IN THE CAR. I DID!

This is all I unloaded last night:

The 6' table was provided, as was the chair. I have my spinner rack parts on the floor, my table cloths and sorry tree on the 6' table, all my boxes stacked up on the bleachers, and two tables propped up there in the back. That's it!

See those little red tape marks on the floor? That defines my space. I went rogue and ignored them. I hope I am invited back.

Ta-da! My minimalist set-up:

I still think it looks nekkid without the walls, but it only took me 1 hour to set up instead of 2. See how my card rack over-steps its bounds? Do you also see that tiny spot between my tables next to the bleachers? I actually stole even more space from that booth on the left later so I could widen the space between my tables and fit my sorry a$$ in there to have somewhere to SIT. You see, most normal people have a simple 6' table across the front of their spot and sit behind it. But moi? Nonononono. With cards, people need to be able to rifle through them, so they need to be reachable. Stacking is not really an option so I need a LOT of table space if I do not use my walls. So I used all my floor space for tables and had no where to put a chair. Yes, I am whining.

The lay of the land follows:

Here is my Christmas Corner. A box, so cleverly set upon another box, ingeniously disguised by a folded tablecloth. So classy, I know. In the back of the box is a sign that says Christmas/Holiday. I put the boxed cards and some of the single ones in front. People still asked me if I had any Christmas cards. (I TOLD YOU!!!) One lady bought all 5 of the frog cards there on the left (yay)! That basket holds some chipboard "decorators" that could be used as either ornaments or as package decorations. I have a squillion of them. I sold 2.

Middle of the table:

My cache of Tea Bag Holders. Remember I made 55 of these to add to my 10 or so already made? They were a HIT! Yes, people LOVED them. But no one actually bought any. Well, okay, my last sale of the day was to a woman who bought three. I sold three.

Here is the other end of the table:

Here's my basket of magnets (for which I forgot to make a sign, so I said "those are $2" about 700 times), and my bookmarks. I sold all but 4 of the bookmarks (yay!).

Behind the bookmarks is my sad, sorry tree with my few remaining ornaments hanging from it. I wrapped some gold stuff around it this morning so it looked a little less sad. I sold two ornaments.

This is the other side of my space - pretty much the same as my farmers market set-up. I took these photos Friday night, and I only made a few changes this morning when I arrived, coffee and breakfast sandwich from Panera in hand. I could live with this set-up versus the walls. So much easier to do! So on the way home this evening I stopped by the storage facility and put back all the wall stuff! I DID! It feels so good, too!

Overall, today's show was okay, even though I took in less $ than in past years. But I did get some more people who want to come to my monthly classes. ;-) PLUS, the woman who runs the Mansion in the Kentlands (the neighborhood where I have my markets) was passing through and asked me if I'd do a new show they are planning for March. YAY!!! That means I actually need to focus next year before May, but it sounds like fun. I have not done a show in the Mansion before now, as someone else was selling SU-type cards there before, so I always opted out. This is "new management" and I am looking forward to it!

And the winning just-passing-by photo of the day:

This purse in a stroller. So cool!

If you are still with me, I thank you! Tomorrow, if I wake up, I need to start making stuff for next week's show in VA. If I plan to do one project each night, I might be ready by Friday.

Thanks for stopping by!


  1. OMG! I am exhausted just reading about what you went through! Rest up, crook!

  2. I can't believe you gave up your walls! I mean, I *can* - 2 hr setup is nuts. But I also can't because it sounded like you really loved your setup. But I think your display looks great!!

  3. I love those frog cards! I'd have bought them too...

    How much is a "squllion"?

    I'm sure the walls would have looked great, but probably not worth an extra hour of work. Good luck in VA!

  4. good use of space. such a variety in limited space. how much are the magnets? ;>

  5. that looks like our car whenever we leave Ikea!!! LOL

    set up looks great!

  6. I am exhausted often do you do this? Every week?
    The efffort for the walls is directly related to how much they increase your sales I guess...did it make a difference?
    You stuff looks adorable!!!


I'd love to hear what you really think! :-)

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