Thankful

Perhaps this post is overdue based on the calendar. My heart says otherwise.

A good ten percent of the people I am friends with on Facebook have been playing the Thankful Game. You know the one, where every day throughout November you post something different you are thankful for. I love the game, I’ve played it every year. Not this year.

I was in a car accident on October 17th. I rear-ended a log truck. I totaled my car. It was a wet, rainy, foggy morning and the Escalade in the fast lane wouldn’t let me over. I saw it coming, I knew it was coming. As I put my foot on the brake and the car didn’t even hesitate I weighed which would hurt less – hitting the truck, or hitting the guard rail and possibly going over the side of the mountain. Subconsciously, I picked the truck. I hit hard. I remember screaming just before. I remember the air bags exploding in my face. I remember waking up a second or two later, my nose burning, my car still running, driving over to the side of the road. I remember deciding to sit there and just collect myself a minute, rolling the windows down because the smoke from the air bags was overpowering. I remember hearing the hiss from my radiator and panicking, even though I knew it was only my radiator. I squeezed myself out of the door, it was almost wedged shut. My elbows hurt, scraped and bruised, my neck was scraped and bruised from my seat belt. But I was standing right there beside my car. Standing.

Everything else kind of blurred. I talked to the driver of the other truck. I talked to the police. I called my daddy. I hugged my momma. I cried a little bit. I hurt. Oh, how I hurt. I went to work with a concussion the next day, three days later I finally managed to stay all day long. I slept, a lot. I cried. I was emotional, irrational, illogical. When I stood I was dizzy and disoriented. But I was standing.

Apparently that very kind of accident has killed so many people. It didn’t kill me. It scared me, it hurt me, but I’m still alive. I’m not sure what I haven’t finished on this earth, but I am so glad that I get to finish it.

I tried to sell my car less than a week after the wreck and very nearly did, but managed to dodge that bullet. It was towed home. It’s out there by my driveway right now. I’ve almost sold it twice since then, still waiting to hear back from one guy before I call the other.

I bought a new car. It’s out there in the driveway right now. It sat there for two weeks while I refused to drive it, but I finally did for the first time last Saturday. And it was good.

I went to job interviews, two of them. I start a new job on Wednesday. I quit my current job. My last day is Tuesday with the understanding that any time I want to come back, I just need to let them know.

And I have never in my entire life been as thankful as I have been in the past month and a half, for everything. I’m thankful for breathing, for sighing, for tears and heartaches and just being able to feel. For the aches and the pains, for the headache I’ve had to put up with every day ever since. I’m thankful for people who love me so much they’re willing to overlook that I fall asleep a lot, and I don’t remember the best anymore, and my math skills still haven’t come back to me. I’m thankful for people who won’t let me push them away when I’m hurting, but pull me closer. I’m so thankful. I’m thankful for a job where I could ask if it was okay if I left early, and the response was always, “yes, ma’am”. I’m thankful for people who stood there beside me because they knew I didn’t remember things. I’m thankful for the hugs, the prayers, I’m thankful for everything.

And there is no way I could have even begun to play the Thankful Game.

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I got free fudge!

A former coworker of mine has opened a fudge business – Fudge For All – for the holidays – and other days too, I imagine. She gave away fudge to the first five people who liked and shared her page, and I got to be one of them! My fudge arrived Thursday and Oh. My. Goodness.

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Just look at the delicious fudginess of it. So good. It has the perfect texture, not gummy, not grainy, just delightfully melt-in-your mouth chocolate. This is the milk chocolate fudge and it is highly recommended if you don’t know the chocolate preference of others. Her prices are reasonable, her fudge is delicious, check her out for all of your holiday candy needs!

How to Have (and How NOT to Have) a Craft Fair – Part Five

Christmas decor available for purchase at the show

Christmas decor available for purchase at the show

Months of organization are behind you and it’s the week before the fair. Here are the last tips, things I would have done totally different if circumstances had allowed.

14. Ensure a clean venue going into the week. This might mean rounding up volunteers to sweep and mop and move things out of the area, or this might mean calling someone and verifying.

15. Collect paperwork. Gather your vendor applications together, along with a list of those who have paid and those you will collect payment from at the show. I put mine in a binder with pens, sharpies, my layout diagrams, business cards from vendors, and some blank paper. It might be a great idea to bring several copies of the guidelines in case there are any questions.

16. Mark spaces. I didn’t do this and I wish I had. I intended to, but like I said, circumstances. Use masking tape and layout each booth space directly on the floor. It will save time and trouble. Correct your diagrams and note the location of electrical outlets for vendors. Number the spaces. If tables are included, move tables to spaces.

17. Put together a sign-in kit. I fully intend to do this next year as I think it’ll be a nice touch. I’ll have name tags for each vendor and their helper(s), their space number, guidelines, and a general thank you for attending. If you have a sign-in table, it also provides an opportunity for you to meet these people you’ve been talking to for the past three months.

18. Expect to change your plans. I cannot emphasize this enough. As a girl who loves plans and cannot handle spontaneity, it was a brief exercise in make-it-work. Something will not go according to plan and you have to expect that. Whether it’s making space for an extra vendor, having a few no-shows and needing to spread out to cover the empty space, whatever. Plan for last minute changes to your plan.

19. Be helpful. Offer to carry things, move stuff, offer your help to every vendor you have. Let them know that you will do everything in your power to make sure that they and their needs are taken care of. Next year I would love to designate a volunteer for every two or three vendors, just to help them set up, bring them a drink if they need it, watch their booth if they have to run to the bathroom, etc.

20. Enjoy it. You’ve worked hard. You’ve earned that cup of coffee and that doughnut.

Thanks for reading! Catch the rest of the series here!

How to Have (and How NOT to Have) a Craft Fair – Part Four

Christmas decor available for purchase at the show

Christmas decor available for purchase at the show

Congratulations! You’re now well on the way to your first craft fair. You’re organized, you’re advertised, you’re publicized, and most importantly, you have vendors.

11. Follow up with your vendors. Send them an email, call, just touch base and make sure they’re well and good (and haven’t forgotten) and you’re all on the same page. Some will need directions and that brings me to the next one.

12. SIGNS. Make signs or have them made, I don’t know your budget. But you will need signs. Put them at the obvious places, the entrance to your venue, the turnoff from the main road, the interstate exit. Cover all possible entrances to your town, your main road, your venue. If your community has signs announcing community events, have yours up there. If you have a church group attending, have them mention it on their sign. Signs are going to be the last reminder that something is going on and people need to be there. They’ll also help out-of-towners locate the event.

13. Out of town vendors. Suggest motel/hotels, restaurants, sights to see, town attractions, etc. Pick up some pamphlets from the Chamber of Commerce, mention how great the fajitas are at your favorite restaurant, let them in on some of you town’s main attractions. You are basically the welcome wagon for this particular event and going out of your way can mean a lot.

Planning a craft fair? Check out the rest of this series here!

How to Have (and How NOT to Have) a Craft Fair – Part Three

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All of your advertising will soon have vendors rolling in, and it’s best to be prepared with the following:

8. Vendor Application. I had no idea what should and should not be on a vendor application, so I looked at examples posted by the coordinators of other craft fairs and went from there. I’ve posted a sample of mine here: Vendor Application Example PDF.  Our show was not specific, nor was it juried, so the application is simple. The first deadline was September 15th, nearly two months before the show, but I extended it time and time again and was taking vendors up until two days before the show. It’s one of those things you’ll have to decide whether or not to be firm on.

9. Guidelines. You can’t just send people off with an application. People are unique individuals and there really truly is no telling what will show up. The guidelines I developed are here: Hometown Craft Show Guidelines. Again, because our show is not juried and because I didn’t want to limit the creativity of anyone, I didn’t care about exclusivity. Because of that, we ended up with five or six different people selling the frilly scarves made from Sashay yarns. But that’s okay. That’s perfectly okay. Prices were competitive, colors varied, I don’t think there was any ill will felt between vendors.

The original idea behind having vendors submit photographs and websites/Facebook pages was not to “judge” their work, it was for advertising on the Facebook page some of the things we would have at the show. I probably dropped the ball on that one a little bit, but at the same time, I might have received pictures from three or four people.

10. Make a Facebook page and create an event. This cannot be mentioned enough. Facebook connects people, people love to invite people to things. Make a Facebook fan page or whatever they’re calling it now. Post pictures. Invite people to invite people to like it. Create an event on that page with more details of the show. Invite everyone you know. Don’t let the page die in the off season, mention other industry related things, like other craft fairs, or special deals vendors are running, or hold a contest to win free booth space, anything like that. Just keep it alive.

Planning a craft fair? Check out Parts One and Two here and stay tuned for the rest of the series this week!

How to Have (and How NOT to Have) a Craft Fair – Part Two

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This is probably the most important step I can emphasize.

5. Advertise and publicize. Before you have vendors, advertise. Vendors will come if you advertise. Shoppers might not come if you just seek vendors. Seek out newspapers, radio stations, television stations, if people see it, read it, hear it, seek it. Write a press release, write two. Submit them everywhere you can think of. Offer interviews, write articles, tell everyone you know. Post flyers everywhere you’re allowed to, well in advance. Talk it up, inform the public. You owe it to your vendors, the people you expect to pay to set up, to have a well-traveled, well-publicized event. I’ve never been outstandingly comfortable in talking to the masses about something I’m doing or have done. Never. But this past weekend has shown me that I owe it to these people who have given of their time and money to show up. I fully intend to set the date before the first of the year and set up a publicity plan soon after. I plan to begin heavily publicizing in August, a full three months before the event.

6. Measure your space and draw out a diagram. Graph paper is one of my best friends and it will be one of yours as well. Decide on the size of space you will be renting. I chose 8×8′, but it’s not uncommon for spaces to be 10×10. Next year I intend for spaces to be larger, as I think the 10×10 space will make it more convenient to accommodate 8′ tables. Figure out how many spaces your room will allow and determine whether it will be possible to attain additional spaces – whether outdoors or in other rooms – in the event of a larger than anticipated response. Keep in mind that this diagram is a set of guidelines and guidelines only. Plan for last minute changes and adjustments and be prepared to roll with whatever happens, because it will happen.

7. Make sure your correct contact information is out there. Give your preferred method of contact out, but also include your phone number because there will be those people who only communicate by phone and because there will be those people who need an a quick answer right then and there. If you don’t check your messages or if you live with your parents, make sure you give out your cell number. Otherwise your mother will be stuck on the phone for several several minutes, multiple times in a row, discussing something she doesn’t know the answer to.

Planning a craft fair? Check out Part One here and stay tuned for the rest of the series this week!