Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Oh how I missed you, RAM!

March 5, 2010, was the grand opening for the 2011 season at the Riverside Arts Market after the winter hiatus. I can't even tell you how nervous and excited I was in the past couple months. Would I be approved? Would I be able to book my desired location? My friend and I were checking the reservation website daily and we'd text each other any news. All the worrying was for naught. We were both approved and we were able to book a booth next to each other. Phew!

So there were 2 big developments for my business as it relates to RAM. 1) is that I expanded to 2 booths! Over the course of time that I have been in business, I would do what most other small business owners do....take my profits and reinvest in more products. Before I knew it, I was having a hard time staying within my 12x12 space! It wasn't too bad because I usually got an end spot and I didn't have to leave a space between my booth and the next on the end. Well, on the last day of RAM last year, there was a new booth created on the end...and I felt claustrophobic in my booth with everything moved in!

Having 2 booths meant that I needed to do a mock up of my booth with my gridwalls and tables. I was able to use a larger table and all 3 brass clothing rack that I had acquired for a song on craigslist last year. I LOVE my brass racks because they are rock solid stable even when strong winds come through.

My helper and I spent all day Friday, Mar 4, setting up my booth in my driveway. We had to pull all my stock out of storage bins and put them back on hangers. I fiddled with the layout many times until I found the best configuration that allowed for people to walk through and see everything. I made signs. My helper priced everything that previously wasn't priced. It was a full day...and then we had to pack it all back up and load it into my 15 passenger van with all but 1 bench removed. I hope business will allow me to buy a cargo trailer soon.

This photo just shows half the booth.

I hardly slept that Friday night. I was up at 4 a.m. and ready to go! I forced myself to wait until just before 7 for the very short drive to the market. I had most of the booth set up by the time my helper arrived at 9. It really went together VERY smoothly since we had done all the prep work the day before.

The second exciting new was that I was able to invest in some mannequins for my booth! Last year, I discovered that whatever I had on my half mannequins would sell quickly. Something could be on a hanger week after week with no interest but the minute I put it on a half mannequin, it would sell and the new owner would exclaim how cute it was! LOL

Mannequin #1 is this adorable little girl, sitting. I liked her because I figured she could be buckled into our van and kept 'safe' from the shifting stuff in the back. We've had a lot of fun with her! My kids think she's a life sized doll and they would put hats & shoes on her...ALL my kids, even the boys. hehe

The reaction at the market was very interesting! I noticed that several people were a little freaked out...but for the most part people really liked her! Kids loved her and would have to touch her as they passed by! That cute dress that she's wearing is super special. I didn't start with white clothing that I purchased...I actually sewed the dresses with a high quality interlock knit and then I tie dyed it in a 3 part process to get the lovely purple Shibori burst on the side.

Mannequin #2 is a super tall, thin lady with sculpted hair like the girl. Sorry....I didn't realize that I didn't get a photo of her. You can kind of see her head in the back of this photo.

The wind was REALLY strong at times in the morning. I have never had a problem with my shorter gridwalls swaying but I felt the need to really keep an eye on them when the wind was really strong on Saturday. I moved the cascade racks down a few notches and I made sure all 4 legs were on the bricks and that made a big difference. I'm toying with the idea of getting a new tent to have something else to stabilize them. Plus it would be nice to have some sort of shelter when the torrential rains come through sideways. My booth is under the bridge and very protected from normal rain but there is a chance of getting a bit wet when it comes in sideways.

Anyhow, I am so excited that we are back in the swing of things at RAM! It's a lot of hard work but we all have a lovely time....chatting with other vendors who have become friends, chatting with customers, enjoying the music and entertainment. Such a nice way to spend a Saturday!

This last photo is how RAM looks at the end of the day. Everything packed up and ready to load up.