Things are finally slowing down into their January slowness, so, nearly a month late, I am finally getting around to writing about the Boston Bazaar Bizarre. I am still flattered and overwhelmed to have been included in it; it was such a great first craft fair to sell at. Very well organized, very well attended. (The photo to the right is the line to get in, still stretching around the block at 4:40 pm, after the doors had been open for 3 hours and 40 minutes.) We got to meet lots of really great people, got lots of nice compliments on our stuff, and sold a thing or two.
We were still wrapping things up the night before, so we didn’t get to go to the vendor party, which I was a bit sad about. But we both took turns walking around and checking out what some of our fellow vendors were selling, and there were lots of really cool things. Terri also had her trusty camera there, so she has lots of fun pictures, if you want to see more.
I have little to benchmark it against from a business point of view, but the key thing for me was that we pretty much sold out of the M0l3sk1ne* notebooks that we were personalizing (we had the Kelsey there, doing blind debossing on the covers). I was worried about that, because they cost a fair bit, and I was afraid that they wouldn’t sell, and that I’d be stuck with hundreds of dollars worth of these notebooks. Luckily, they ended up easily being our biggest seller. Actually operating the press on the spot was a nice conversation piece; it brought people over to the booth and I got to talk shop with some people who do or have done letterpress themselves. We also found that working on them was actually a good advertisement: seeing me frittering away at the press made people wonder what was going on, and if the press went silent, people wouldn’t seem interested in the notebooks themselves. Had we had a significant slow period, I might have been inclined to make a few just to get interest up.
One of the best parts about making the notebooks was being privy to the personal things that people wanted printed. The best was this guy who asked “how long can my text be?” (about 20 letters was how much I estimated). He said “ok, I have to think about it; I’ll be back in a few minutes,” and he seemed like he was really going to have to do some tough wordsmithing to whittle down everything he wanted to say in that little space. When he came back, he said, “OK, I want two. One should say ‘mom’ and the other should say ‘dad’”.
I also debossed several of the notebooks for a guy who turned out to be the founder and publisher of The Dig, one of Boston’s alternative weekly papers that I have long thought is far superior to the rest (especially far superior to the biggest, the stunningly mediocre and corporate Phoenix and its bland “alternative” media empire of radio stations and concert series). I was so happy to actually be able to tell him personally about how utterly disappointed I’ve been with the Phoenix since the day I moved to Boston 10 years ago, and how great it’s been that The Dig has gotten really good (it wasn’t much when it started, but the current-and-soon-to-be-former editor-in-chief has really been great).
The stuff that didn’t sell was a surprise, too. I had a zillion of the operator cards, and we sold not one. I love the operator! (PS: We now have a nascent Etsy store, where you can buy a set of the operator cards).
Thanks to all our friends who dropped by to visit, too, and sorry if we were too busy to chat much. A super big thanks to Summervillain and Editrix who actually stuck around and helped us clean up and pack the car. And Terri obviously deserves the biggest thanks for making the whole thing happen; the whole on-the-spot-deboss would not have been possible without her to keep the transactions flowing while I was setting type and making notebooks. And she did a great job of packaging and presenting everything well (especially the colorful holiday gift tags– another near-sell-out). In addition to giving design and business help, she’s going to learn to use the press in 2007. Look out, world.
*I blank out the name of this manufacturer of those popular leatherbound notebooks because when I faxed them about buying in bulk to personalize, someone called me back to let me know that they did not permit modifying and reselling their notebooks, something about preserving the brand, blah, blah, blah. So the obfuscation is so that they can’t find me through Google so easiliy.