Burstin’ My Soap Bubble: My First (Worst!) Craft Show Experience

Burstin’ My Soap Bubble: My First (Worst!) Craft Show Experience

I was so excited! Phone call after phone call, I had been denied and told there were no open spots for vendors. But finally, I was accepted. I was able to squeeze in at a local autumn arts and craft show. I couldn’t wait to tell my son the good news because he knew I had been trying to get us into a craft show for days. It’s our first one ever!

The past month or so, I had been looking for something my son and I could do together. He loves to make money and since I have a background in business and marketing, I’m all about teaching him the ins and outs of a small business. After I wrote “6 Ways Kids Can Make Money this Season,” I came up with the idea of making handmade soaps. I’ve always wanted to sell my own crafts and I figured this is something he’d be interested in as well. Making soap is easy enough where he could help out. Plus, we could make soaps specifically designed for kids as well. Perfect!

When I was able to grab a vendor spot last minute, I was thrilled. Usually vendors have to apply months ahead of time. I honestly didn’t expect a yes from anyone, but for $30 I jumped at the chance! We weren’t even prepared and the show was in one week. Needless to say, we were busy that entire week, shopping and making a lot of soap. I thought 40 was a good number to start with.

I was a bit nervous because I had read that it was an indoor event, but on the phone the event coordinator told me I was going to be outside. I knew it was because I had registered late. She told me the only reason she was letting us in the show was because it was a business my 8-year-old was partaking in too. I then assumed other vendors would be outside as well. I didn’t worry too much. Busy as bees, my son and I got everything done and we were ready and excited.

The Big Day

My husband followed me to the event early to help me set up. The event started at 11:00, but we were told to get there between 8 and 10. We pull up and it’s kind of strange. It was at an indoor sports center, which I knew, but the only vendors outside were food vendors. I walked inside and thankfully the man in charge, Joe, said he has a space inside us. Thank goodness because I couldn’t imagine setting up in between Red Bull and the Beer Garden! “This is awesome,” I thought. I’ve actually been promoted to the “inside” area where all of the craft vendors are. Things are going great.

Joe told me to follow him to our space. I’m lagging behind him with boxes and my family in tow. Joe keeps walking, and walking, and walking. We finally arrive at the space, even though it feels like it’s miles and miles from the front door. But I’m still grateful! Maybe I can sell some soap no matter how far I am. After all, the ad for the show said it’s the “Largest Arts and Craft Show in the Area.” How bad could it be? It’s my first experience so I’m still super excited.

Bouncy Houses and Balloons

We set up our table and I was feeling really proud. I asked my mom to come with us because she’s so great at presentations. Our table looked so pretty, and I worked extra hard at making our signs and labels. This was a lot of work.

It was nearing 11:00 now. We start to smell gas. My poor mom can’t stand the smell and I didn’t want my son being exposed to it either, especially being indoors. But out come the bouncy houses! Directly across from our table, we’re staring at about five of them. This explains the smell as they’re being blown up. I started to worry we’d be overshadowed. Then came a clown and a face-painter in between it all. It then hits me, “We’re stuck in the back, near the exit in the middle of all of the free stuff for kids!” Whose going to notice us and our soap now?!

Are They Here Yet?

Thankfully, the awful smell dissipated. My son starts asking, “Are the people coming?” “When are the people coming?” It was 11:30. Not much action yet for us, but the balloon artist and face-painter were getting a lot of customers, because it was free! I was now under the impression that no one comes to this show to actually buy anything. Lo and behold, someone comes over and loves our soap. She actually wants to buy some. Our first sale! Of course it’s from another vendor, but who cares. At least she likes it.

An hour goes by and it feels like an eternity.  My son became BFFs with the clown in the meantime and collected about 20 balloons. He also had fun playing games and making the most of a really dull situation. He even started asking everyone that walked by if they wanted to buy some soap, letting them know there were toys in them. The kid was bored out of his mind and wanted some sales! Could you blame him? We (mostly me) had worked so hard at making all of this soap after all. At some point, he was even asking workers that walked by.

To top it all off, a woman dressed as Bride of Frankenstein sets up in front of our table, literally right in front.  She was paid to be a statue.  Did she really need to hide our table any more than it was? At least we had a laugh.

Lesson Learned

That was it. I was done. We were there from 11-3 and made three sales. The show was until 9 and we were expected to stay that long. I’m thinking they should have paid us as a seat filler. There was hardly anyone there and those that were definitely weren’t interested in buying anything. Let’s do some hard math. We brought 40 soaps and sold 3…40-3 = 37. We have 37 bars left. Did I calculate that right?

We’re going to toss this one up as a total flop. Definitely not a venue to sell crafts. No one there seemed interested in either arts or crafts . We started to head out. Not surprised, the beer garden was packed with men and they were having a much better time outside than we were inside! My mom and I were invited over with a “Hey Ladies! The beer garden is open.” We politely declined our kind invite to join the party and left the building.  But the vendor part of me did wonder if they would have bought some soap 🙂

While it was disappointing, it was still an experience and the events that transpired were laughable! Next time, before I commit I’ll make sure to research the venue. I’ll also make sure we’re not the last to register so we don’t get thrown in the back where no one can see us.

For now, we’ll skip the shows and just sell to friends and family.  I also want to set up a link on this site as well soon so stay tuned for an announcement on Soap Suds and More 🙂

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