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Planning, Planning and more…Planning

This is practically and specifically what we have been doing for the last month. Planning how to do a show. What to bring. How to set up our table/booth. Lots of planning. Even when we do all of that, I’ve found it very important to be fluid with the specifics of the plan and have a willingness to change to some other idea if the feeling comes.

Each time we’ve done a show, we found something in our system that can be improved, consolidated or downright eliminated. One of the things that we didn’t have at the very first show was a portable way to carry paracord with me to the show. I wanted to be able to make bracelets and key chains for people while they were browsing around and initially I carried all of my paracord colors in a couple of plastic grocery bags. I found out the third day that this wasn’t going to work, when someone wanted a bracelet that we had just made for someone else and we committed to making it for them. Half way through the process, we came into one problem. The dark gray paracord was no where to be found. We salvaged the situation and used a lighter gray, but the writing was on the wall. I needed a way to see the cord colors. Later on after we got home and the event was a distant memory, I found the dark gray paracord in one of the bags. UGH!!

One day when I was sitting in my shop, just thinking about some different things, I glanced at this clear backpack that we bought for one of our kids years ago. It was passed down through at least two of them and at this point was about to end up in the trash heap since no one wanted it anymore. Until the light went off. I could see that it would be perfect to put all of my paracord colors and other items in. It was clear and would be perfect to be able to see everything. Problem solved. Well sort of. Now that we are carrying about 32 colors and lots of other stuff, this backpack is getting heeaaavy. Now I wonder if I should get a short or shallow bin. We’ll see on that one. I do like that I can throw everything over my shoulder and keep rolling.

 

I’ll talk with you next time, Constant Reader. It’s time to go check the backpack.

We have been so busy. Swap meets, Craft Shows…Whew.

I’ve missed writing here for the past couple weeks. My intention all along was to write a post in this blog everyday, five days a week. I was doing just fine with that right up until about a month ago when we started doing show, meets and events. We started doing them the week before Thanksgiving and have done some type of show every weekend since.

They’ve been fun, and quite interesting but, boy oh boy, do they take a lot of time. Granted they are on the weekend, but since our primary product is handmade, we have to spend time in producing enough product to take with us. Some of they items that are easier to produce, I “prep” them and we finish them at the show. As I’ve said in other post, I’ve found that people like to see that we hand make the items. There hasn’t been a show that has gone by without at least one person coming to our booth and asking who makes these items. In our first show or two, the answer was always me. Now I might still make the overwhelming majority of them, but my family is quickly stepping up to the plate and contributing their hands to the craft as well.

Since Thanksgiving, we have done, two Motorcycle Swap Meets and two Arts and Crafts shows. That’s pretty diverse right? I’m sure it sounds like we are probably selling different stuff at one type of show over the other, but we are basically selling the same things. Maybe our signage is a bit different but, I’ve found that people are people. Even though one genre might like a different color combination in general there is a broad appeal.

Well Back to work. We’ll talk more next time, Constant Reader.

 

The generosity and kindness of others

You may remember me speaking about the local coffee shop and the owner allowing me to place a few bracelets at her shop. Today I stopped by and figured I would pick up the remainder of the bracelets as well as drop her gift off.

Maybe I didn’t speak of her gift. I told her the last time we spoke the least I could do would be to make her a bracelet of her choice. She picked a white and black two color with a pink ribbon. It looked really nice and I was looking forward to seeing what she thought of it. I mean really, she said she doesn’t want me to pay her for selling the bracelets, I’ve got to do something.

Well she really like the bracelet and I even made her a matching key chain. I hope she really enjoys them.

Back to the matter at hand. When I got there, she told me that she sold 8 bracelets and had just sold 1 key chain earlier this same day. I was very pleased that people seem to really like them and hopefully they will spread the word about them. Like I said I was planning on taking the remainder with me and she offered to keep them on her counter if I didn’t need them right away. I told her that I had a couple shows later this month but I didn’t need them at this moment. I think I’ll stop by in another week or so. Her generosity astounds me.

I hope to honor her and pay it forward very soon.

I’ll check with you soon, Constant Reader.

It happened again and again and again

I had told my friend that I had wanted to do the Breast Cancer walk as a vendor, but when I contacted the “Making Strides” group, I was told that they didn’t permit outside vendors, only their sponsors. Most of these were local and national companies, like General Motors, Kroger and a few local hospitals that deal with cancer research. My friend suggested perhaps this will be the way to make some sales without going through the big organization. I liked the idea.

Once I get in the shop I go up to my friend and introduce myself to the shop owner. She seems like a real nice, no nonsense lady and she asks right away to see what I’ve got. I take out a flyer and show her and while she is reading it I tell her that I’m not sure exactly what good it will do at this point with the Making strides for Breast Cancer Walk  coming up on the very next day. She agrees regarding the flyer and it seems like a light bulb went on and she has an epiphany. She suggests that if I’ve already got a few bracelets in the Breast Cancer Pink Ribbon theme, that she can put them in a jar on her counter. She then goes to the storage area of her shop and finds what looks like a two (2) gallon glass jar. We count out all the bracelets so we both know what we are dealing with and she puts the big jar right on her counter. She even tapes one of the flyers on the counter adjacent to the jar. I took out all the items I had at the time, 22 Bracelets and 15 key chains, all themed with the Breast Cancer Awareness Ribbon.

I asked her how much I owed her for this wonderful generosity: NOTHING, is what she said. Amazing is about all that I can say to describe it. The suggestion by my friend and ultimately the sheer kindness of this shop owner just blows me away.

 

Until next time. I’ll see you soon Constant Reader.

ABC = Always be closing

The thought that came to my mind when the events I described in the previous two posts was that it is important to always be ready for the unexpected. This whole scenario was unexpected, but I was prepared. I made a lot of items for the Victory Biker Church Breast Cancer Ride as well as Breast Cancer Awareness month in general and the items that I had already completed worked perfectly for this scenario. I’m excited to see how things work out.

In addition to Always be Closing, I am working at thinking ahead as well. I have been scouring the local area for shows that we can do. The two shows that we did earlier, were great successes in my book. Not just monetarily but in terms of making contacts. With each show I got so many ideas about other designs and colorations to make. People were so helpful and I always make every attempt to utilize every idea offered to me. It is impossible for me to know everything and I truly depend on the help of others to point me in the right direction in many areas.

Next time, Constant Reader, I should be able to give and update on how the deal at the Coffee Shop went. Until then.

 

It happened again; just before the local Making Strides for Breast Cancer Walk

Actually I couldn’t wait to write this post. I was so shocked at the events of earlier today that after it happened, I pulled out my journal and jotted down a few notes while they were fresh in my mind. What happened…well here goes.

I received a call from a friend of mine. I’ll leave her name out since I forgot to ask her if I could publish this story with her name and everything. She called and was wondering if I could meet with her. I didn’t have anything pressing going on at the moment and I told her that I could meet with her. The other day she bought a Gray and Pink Camo Breast Cancer Awareness bracelet for her son, so I figured she might want to exchange it fora different size. I do this for people that make a purchase from in person if their item is a regular and not a custom coloration that would be harder to sell to someone else. Many people have bought bracelets for other people and are guessing on their size. Most guess just about right but from time to time we have to do an exchange.

Well she did want to exchange for a Black and Pink Camo bracelet. She said her son thought the other one was a little too feminine. Before she left me she told me about the  Making strides for Breast Cancer walk and was going to a local coffee shop to meet with the owner. Apparently she would be working at this cafe on the next morning and she suggested that if I had a flyer that maybe I could speak with the owner and she could put the flyer up in her shop. Well that sounded like a good idea to me although I did wonder if this lady would like the idea as well as my friend. I told her I would meet her and this lady after getting my pack with a few bracelets and a couple flyers.

I walked in this shop and I really like how it looks. I had never been in this shop nor am I much of a coffee drinker, so this place was off of my radar. My friend and the shop owner are at the rear of the shop. The first thing that pops in my mind is Eleanor Roosevelt’s quote, “Do something everyday that frightens you”. I had no real reason to be afraid other than this is all new and unexpected.

Next time, I’ll let you know what happened from there, Constant Reader.

Our vending neighbors

As stated previously, when we pulled up and started unloading, we began getting a few strange looks from the vendor right next to us. We couldn’t see exactly what they were selling yet and I bet they were wondering, as I was, if we were going to be selling the same things at all. Eventually we both get our stalls set up and it’s obvious that their isn’t any conflict of us selling similar items.

I decided to go take a look at their items, since several of them looked interesting. I barely got to the second table and the guy starts talking to me. Well actually his 8 year old daughter does most of the talking. She was vibrant, animated and apparently a good salesperson according to her mom and dad. She even had a leather bikers vest, that she made sure to tell us about the details about. Her dad was also very open and interesting.

In time, my wife started talking to the lady (neighbor), his wife. My wife, Amy, is excellent at this and I often take pointers from her. She is so good at getting people to relax and enjoy her company that it amazes me at times. Before you know it we are talking with both of them, like we have been friends for a long time. We exchange stories about bits and pieces of our lives and they give all sorts of great tips on having a vendor type of business. I was taking it all in and writing down a few notes as well. We even gave them a tip or two of things they didn’t know about.

The event turned out to be pretty small. Apparently a few groups that committed to coming bowed out at the last minute. However it happened, we had a good time. It was really nice talking to our vending neighbors and we exchanged business cards and hopefully we’ll keep in touch with each other in the future. The members of the Victory Biker Church were so generous and gracious. We will definitely consider coming back next year if it will work for both sides. They truly really embraced my family and made us feel comfortable. Even if we didn’t own any leather biker vests. 😉

Talk with you soon, Constant Reader.

“I’m starting to feel like a cupcake”

This was a quote by my daughter, Alyssia when we arrived at our second event, the Breast Cancer Awareness Ride at the Victory Biker Church in Lennon, MI. We pulled in the lot and there were a few biker types, guiding people where to park. We pulled up and spoke with one of the guys that was volunteering. I told him that I was a vendor and wanted to know where to park. He showed me where and we pulled in. For the briefest moment, I felt like we were “cupcakes”, but I forged ahead and walked right into the church and just acted as if I belong.

As I figured I caught the attention of a couple people. Why not? At the moment, I’m the only black fellow in the whole building and I don’t in any way look like a biker. That doesn’t really bother me. In my job as a police officer, I’m quite accustomed to going into places where I stand out and am stared at.

It doesn’t take long to be directed to the Pastor of the church, who we met at the Bikes on the Bricks event. I ask him about where we should setup. He directs me to a spot outside next to another vendor who is setting up as well.

We take our place and it’s freezing. Temperature in the low 50’s and a brisk 17-22 mph wind. What are you gonna do, right. Well we hunker down and make the best of it. While we were setting up; a guy comes up and asks if we made any bracelets in the orange and black Harley Davidson color motif. He must have been one of the people that suggested it to me while we were at the Bikes on the Bricks event. I told him that I did make a few of them and he promises to come back and purchase one. Before he left he helps us set up our canopy which I thought was incredibly generous.

When we pulled up we were parked directly next to a man and woman setting up their stand. They had a much bigger setup than we. They had 5 or 6 tables. Oooooh boy. I’m starting to feel that twinge of inadequate. I tell myself to ignore that and keep moving on with our plan.

Next time Constant Reader, find out just what happened with the neighbors.