Gray Skies and Silver Linings

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Fall/Winter 2106 has not been a smooth ride so far. I have been a bit overwhelmed by my printing load, which is larger than usual this year because I got cocky and signed up for more shows. What has been more overwhelming, though, is the fact that the Fall shows tend to be outdoors, leaving you at the mercy of tempestuous Mother Nature.

Art on the Avenue was on a wet day, and although many shoppers showed up and I made a decent amount of sales, setting up in a rainstorm was not a bowl of cherries (read more about that day here). Oh, and last weekend’s festival in Fairfax can be best described as a dampening experience (literally: it was an extremely soggy day, I’m still drying off).

Working at outdoor festivals when the weather is bad can be a singularly torturous experience. I need some sympathetic head shaking, so here are some problems we vendors can face:

  • A 72 hour day.
    Yes, the day really does feel that long when hardly anyone stops by your booth, and it’s too cold and rainy to do much but huddle in the corner trying to keep warm.
  • Damaged inventory
    A whole day of wet weather means that you go home with damp products, and a soaking tent, which means you need to lay everything out to dry and dehumidify that evening, and spend the next day drying out your tent in your yard.
  • Little surprises
    This time, my tent sprung a couple of leaks, which had me performing an elaborate dance of reorganization so that the onesies didn’t suffer any more than they needed to.
  • Tantrums
    Mine and the kids. When it’s nice weather the children skip off like happy lambs to play in the kid’s corner, watch performances, eat out and score free candy from vendors. On Saturday they mooched off for a walk, came back and asked “is it time to go yet?“. Then they sat in a cafe, came back and asked “is it time to go yet?“. Then they watched an indoor concert, came back and asked “is it time to go yet?“. And then…..well you get the picture.
    I wasn’t much better to be honest, in the afternoon I whined like a baby and  entertained notions of leaving early to my poor husband who pointed out that we had signed up for the festival, so we should stick it out (he is a real grown up, unlike myself).

Now, here’s the silver linings part: despite all of this, many positive things came out of this experience. Even though I’m not a fatalist, I keep catching myself thinking that things really may happen for a reason. Cue positive things list:

  • New Friends
    The tent next to mine at the Fairfax Fall Festival was owned by the nicest and funniest group of people that I have ever met at a festival. Having all that empty time to fill, meant that we got to talk to each other a bit more than vendors normally do at shows. I was crying with laughter at one point during the day, they made my day.
  • Fabulous Find
    Excellent news, my booth was opposite a coffee shop called  De Clieu, and it is official, I have found a new haunt. They make the best ginger scones, and brioche, and I’m in love.
  • Hardcore Customers
    I have a lump in my throat when I think about all the customers who actually came out in the rain and hunted for my tent so that they could buy my shirts. I got some lovely feedback from these people, and I must be doing something right to have repeat customers in such dreadful weather. Thank you!
  • Ill Gotten Gains
    While I danced around my tent moving shirts around to avoid drips, my daughter and son were entertaining bored vendors with their cute grins, and somehow scoring large amounts of free stuff like little bandits. My ten year old daughter also managed somehow to earn some money by making day-glo bead bracelets for vendors while they waited. Maybe she should just take my job?

Next Sunday I take part in the Kensington Fall Festival. The weather is predicted to be fine, and after that it will be indoor shows, warmth and holiday cheer only, OKAY? Excellent.

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