Back at the fair, I had plenty of time to contemplate the other craft stall holders. Almost all of the other stalls were selling mass produced goods made overseas and all of the products could be sold in home parties. So many of them were those pyramid schemes – one for Memory Books, one for board games, another for wickless candles (they seemed to be the only ones who were doing any business! Why do people come to a craft fair to buy mass produced candles?! Go to Michaels. Why pay more for a candle that doesn’t even have a wick?) Besides myself, the only people selling anything handmade was the stall next to me. By noon, they’d made $12. I’d made -$1.25 (I bought a pop.)
I thought their craft stall was brilliant – hand cut wood Halloween lawn ornaments. Their stall was gorgeous – bales of hay their husbands and children had helped set up. The two ladies were wearing matching black outfits with "Trick or Treat" emblazoned across their chests in orange rhinestones. Eerie Halloween music played from behind their table and yet only two sales – a bat for $7 and a trio of candy corn for $5.
Like myself, having never set up stall at a craft show before, they too were Craft Stall Virgins. We didn’t know we were competing with stall owners who brought tents, walls with shelves, and five tables. We didn’t know we were going to get the worst position at the end of the fair near a building site (see background behind my table). We didn’t know we were competing with mass produced rubbish from overseas. Why come to a craft fair for that?
By noon in the hot Michigan sun, we were all sweltering. They gave up at 12:05. Hubby #1 threw the pick up truck in reverse while Hubby #2 removed the police wooden barricade. I’d like to say craft show participants had to run out of the way, but we were the last booths and no one had dared walk that far, so no one was close to being run over. Their cheerleader twins and their boyfriends helped throw the wooden pumpkin lawn ornaments and Frankensteins into the back and they sped away for a "beer in the backyard".
I wanted to yell "Goodbye! At least you’d made $12! But I only waved."
And I was left alone. The last booth in a long line, now an empty gap away from all of the others.
My rescuer, Heather, helped me pick up the lead weighted table and move it close to her booth. I gritted my teeth and began my sales pitch.
"Go Green with a tote bag!"
"Say no to plastic!"
"Buy handmade! Sewn in a living room down the street!"
"Made with the strongest upholstery fabric so it won’t tear or rip. Guaranteed!"
Countless people told me how lovely my bags were, but they’d just bought a reusable shopping bag from Meijer… Target…Kmart. . .Kroger (hello, Kroger is out of business) for $1. How much were mine? I’m sorry people, but I just cannot compete with $1. These are the same people who would say they’re against child labor! Who do they think is going to make something for $1?
Craft may be dead in Plymouth, but I’m so glad there’s a revival internet community.
We need a craft fair revolt!
p.s. - I'm pleased to say that in a rush of pedestrian traffic starting at 3 p.m. (is there a magic fair selling hour?), I finally had a flurry of sales which continued the rest of the evening! Hurray!