What has been going on?!? June 23, 2022
JUNE 24, 2022
It's been quiet on my social media pages.
Here is why. I was busy preparing for my very first outdoor Market.
I collected all of the wine bottles from the International Wine Festival at the Duke Energy Center. There were hundreds of cases. We have been working very hard to sort through and process them so I can fit my car back in the garage. We are about halfway there.
My lovely friend and neighbor suggested that I try to sell candles at the Dead and Company concert. What a wonderful idea! That would be a perfect place to start. I thought maybe it would be less intimidating to sell to people with altered consciousness. I had a lot of work to do to get ready for Shakedown street. That is the name of the tailgating section of merchants at Grateful Dead concerts. I had no idea what I was in for. It’s called a counter-culture for a reason.
I had a lovely visit with another neighbor who has done hundreds of outdoor markets. She offered a lot of amazing advice. Unfortunately, as we chatted we could not find information on how to plan to vend on Shakedown Street. Apparently, Deadheads are not much into blogging.
On the day of the event, I struggled with sleep and I woke up at 3 am. I started to get my things together. There was still so much to do. I had about 70 candles poured but not ready to go. They needed to be cleaned of excess wax from smudged on the bottle and labeled, and the tops had to be smoothed with a heat gun.
I decided to design labels, especially for the event so I combined a deadhead theme with a Cincinnati flavor. Then I had to print them along with Candle Care Cards, business cards, and other promotional material. Other things on my to-do list included 1. Practice using the square. I did not realize I had to input my inventory. I actually did that in the car on the way to the concert. My husband drove. 2. Pack the car like I am going camping for the weekend. 3. Pick up my intern in Ky. 4. Stop at the bank for change.
I thought I would have most of the day to get all of this done as the concert was slated to begin at 8pm. My neighbor suggested I get there really early. She said 5 is probably going to be late. I decided to drive by the venue on the way home from getting my intern at noon. I wondered if anyone would be trickling in. It was packed!
We found out later that people started to arrive at 7 am. It’s not just a market but also a campsite/parking spot for hippie vans, as I would later find out. But not the romanticized VW microbus with flowers painted on the side, hippie bus. More on that later.
We hurried home. We prepped and labeled the candles and my husband packed the car. That might not sound like much but it was A LOT OF WORK. I forgot all of my printables on the printer.
We arrived at the venue around 2 o'clock, remember the concert starts at 8. It was 100 degrees in the shade. I was worried about how the Coconut/Soy candles would hold up. They have a much lower melting point. A couple of them were sweating a little but I was happy no real melting. The main lot was already full and the side lot also looked full but I thought my chances might be better there. That may have been a big mistake. The parking was pure chaos. There was no order at all. A big bus blocked most of the path so a lot of the spots were inaccessible. I managed to turn around and I squeezed my car into a tiny spot between the corner landscape and a beat-up old Ford van painted black over rust. a golf cart with two police officers cruised by. I said hello.
While we unpacked I noticed a couple of dogs panting heavily in the shade of a fold-up table. I did not spot a water dish. A couple of teenagers were laying, nearly naked on a blanket, smoking pot under the same canopy as the panting dogs.
I still felt rushed as I didn't realize that all of the people there were other vendors and no one was really shopping yet. I set up the canopy and the table. I looked around and I only noticed one other tent with weighted legs. I decided I would only use one set of weights and not two. They are so cumbersome. I did not take the time to velcro the canopy to the frame. As it turned out, those were mistakes I won't make again.
It was HOT and sunny. I had everything set up and I tried to engage with people as they walked by but it was still too early. This gave me time to further assess my surroundings. It was a sad sight. I felt very out of place with my new tabletop decor and my personalized license plate. The teenage couple had disappeared and I noticed a crumpled banner on their canopy that read "Shakedown grilled cheese" but I did not see any sign of a sandwich-making operation. My husband also took note of our environment. He asked if we were wearing bras because it's clearly optional.
In the absence of the teenagers, an older couple seemed to be taking their turn to mind the store. The woman had dreadlocks down to the middle of her thighs. The top of her head was a mess of wispy strands of hair that didn't make into the dreads. She looked very tired and strung out but functioning. She was setting out some homemade jewelry on a table. An angry, super skinny, shirtless man with longish, scraggly, thinning, gray hair, came up to me to complain that I parked too close to his “shit”. At that point, I could not move my car without tearing everything down. I apologized and said the people that were in his tent earlier said it was ok to park there. I explained that I would not have set it up if I thought it was an infringement. He scoffed, went back to his dirty bins, and moved them directly behind my car. He seemed happy with himself that he blocked my car. He then came back to apologize for his earlier complaints, or to see if he would get a reaction to his new setup. He said he just woke up grumpy. I gave him a free candle for his troubles. The label read “Dirty Hippie Scent”. I brought them along specifically to give away if the opportunity presented itself. They were only 3 ounces. He pointed to the beat-up RV parked on the other side of the black and rust ford van. He said he could burn it in the camper. It was then I realized that it was home and they were a family.
The first people came up to my table. As soon as I noticed the very large marijuana bud that the man was holding directly in front of his sternum, I realized they were there to make a sale not to buy. I tried anyway. He said they needed to make some money and that everyone wanted to trade. The young girl next to him was holding a tie-dye T-shirt, a baseball cap, and a poster. I said “Me too!’. He made his pitch. He told me it was a brand new strain. It was a hybrid of Oreo and Purple Unicorn and it was mostly Indica. I had absolutely no idea what he was talking about. I reminded him that I also was there to make money. He wished us good luck and left. They turned right back around. He pulled out a small baggie with a little bud in it and said here you can try this if you want some more I am right over there. He pointed somewhere over the top of the makeshift tie-dye stand across the path. He placed the baggie on the table. I decided to reciprocate by giving him a free 3-ounce candle. I stashed the bud in the plastic, cash and little bits, divider bin.
Our tent was pitched partially in front of ol’ back and rust. The back hatch had been open since before we arrived. I had asked permission from a guy with dark black and clearly unintentional dreads before I set up. Shirts are also not a requirement.
A big black and brown dog meandered past us through our stand and jumped into the back of the Black and Rust. . A very dirty bare mattress took up the back portion and it was piled with dirty clothes, dishes, and a very gross sleeping bag. I started to think there is no way I am going to sell a single candle here. I heard a weary voice from the front of the van murmur “get out”. The dog just lay down on the nasty sleeping bag and panted heavily in the heat. There were no more complaints from the front of the van.
Around 4 o'clock I started to notice concertgoers trickling in. They were obvious to spot; they looked mostly showered and their tie-dye appeared to have been recently laundered. My husband reminded me to be engaging. A couple people stopped to browse but said they wanted to check out the other vendors before making a purchase. I clearly need to work on a good sales pitch. Something other than a random compliment on a head scarf or mentioning how hot it was. I made a few real sales. I priced all of my candles at $20. I did not post the wax amount per candle and no one asked or seemed to care. The Tibetan Amber-patchouli-weed scent seemed to be a favorite. Most people who stopped were from out of town so the OTR label did not make much sense to them. I had a few people ask if I would be at Deer Creek. They thought I was a follower.
The weather made a sudden shift from clear and sunny to gray and ominous. The wind started to blow and I decided I should get out the extra pole weights from my trunk. I noticed that I was not the only one making quick preparations. I squeezed past the old hippie's sales bins that blocked my car and just as I was getting the weights a big gust of wind came. The tent looked like a parachute getting ready to launch off the ground. My husband and intern grabbed it before it soared into the sky. I tried desperately to secure the extra weights. Then I decided to lower the canopy. It seemed like I needed to bring the whole thing toward the middle to lower it more but all that did was make the canopy billow. I realized I didn't velcro the canopy to the poles. I tried to secure the straps and a guy walking by stopped to help. My intern and husband were still holding on when I decided to call it done. I said, “Let's pack up and go home.” The old hippie was already moving his bins away from the back of my car.
The table and all of the merchandise were no longer under the canopy. It began to rain. I started to pack whatever I could easily grab first into the car. I realized I had to take it all back out so I could squeeze the tent legs and table into the trunk. I just wadded the canopy up and tossed it into the back seat. It was now pouring rain and we didn't organize anything. We simply piled it in. My poor intern and husband barely had a place to sit and had to hold table decorations. As I carefully maneuvered the car out of the lot it started to hail with tie-dye and trash blowing in the wind. I was very glad to go home. I was exhausted. We unpacked the candles and left everything else in the car. We went in, ate dinner and I was asleep by 7:30pm.
The next day I took my intern home and cleaned up the mess in my car, house, and garage.
- Secure the canopy!
- Keep a go-bag prepped with essentials like shopping bags, scissors, pens, paper, extra labels, first aid, a little broom and dustpan in case of broken glass, cash for making change, and the square for credit card payments, ECT.
- Pack the car the night before an event.
- Try to understand the vending environment before choosing a market.
- Extra small free candles are good to take along.
- I took 10 small canvas bags. They were about .50 each. I secured a sale when a lady said she would come back later. I told her that I was giving away free bags to the first 10 customers. Do that again.
- Work on my sales pitch.
- Take drinks. Beer, wine something to loosen me up just a little, venue permitting.
- Take food.
- Pee before the event.
- Get to know my vending neighbors.
- Always say no to people selling drugs because you might just get them for free. 😂
- Check the weather forecast.
- Organize inventory to make replenishing the table easier.
- Make sure Square or Shopify is up to date with the latest inventory.
- Take tissue paper to wrap candles for purchases.
- Take a knife.
- Do not leave candles in the hot car. It may evaporate the fragrance.