I love doing outdoor events… or I did, at one time!
Back in the day, as they say, I could set up the tent alone, unload the truck and build a display in no time.
I had the picture in my head and knew how it should look. I dressed to sell, and be warm. I had my words in their place and knew every price, markup and available swap.
I had to get back in the swing of doing my own event, after a 6 year hiatus while working for the company, instead of myself.
Here in the south, we speak to people, wave and make eye contact as they walk or drive by. I think I forgot how annoying it can be when they ignore me. Is it that hard to say “good morning”? I love speaking to people. I love hearing about their lives and families. I really enjoy talking about my business, and I’m pretty good at reading them and knowing when they prefer to talk about themselves. I can listen, at least until the next customer slips under my tent top.
I like to think the children who run free and enjoy the weather and my wares are learning something. Like how to put it back, don’t touch, and don’t spill your drink there, please. I can teach them quietly while mom enjoys my neighbor’s booth – maybe she will stop here and take them to the next vendor.
Ants and rain, wind and rude people, sunburns and unsupervised children, do not stop dedicated vendors who love the carnival atmosphere and the joy of sharing with others. There’s a “look” between them. Something akin to the momma “looks” when you slipped and said the bad word or answered inappropriately. Then, if you watch carefully, you’ll see the smile of understanding spread across the vendor’s sun kissed faces as they empathize. It’s still fun and always profitable.
So, here are my tips for a successful vendor event:
- Buy the great weights for the tent. Whatever they cost… we saw several types. We opted for the Pinterest suggestion of using Gal jugs of water, tied to the tent. It’s economical and we will be using them in our Keurig. I saw someone use the same type jugs with pebbles. I have to say with the gusts we weathered this last weekend, they were not enough. Picture this: my friend, Judy and I were hold the tent poles at one time, like we were water skiing! We really had a great laugh over the wind. I learned, from the vendor across the way, that using bungee cords to join the two tents together by the legs and top rails gave us the extra support we needed. There are weights made for tents… canvas, plastic and a variety. The best one we saw was a “runner” between the two side sets of tent poles. The gentleman had 2 2×4’s from front to back poles and bolted them thru the tent poles. Then they used the wooden runners like pallets for their stock. It took him 5 minutes to install and 5 minutes to tear down. The weight was sufficient and easy to transport.
- Set the tables INSIDE the parameters of the tent. Not on the edge… allow room to drop the tent canopy over your products for evening or weather.
- A great booth, allows the customer to ENTER , get out of the sun and rain and have a soft spot to walk. They’ll stay longer. They’ll shop. If you have an extra seat or bench – perfect! I saw where a vendor had purchased puzzle shaped pieces of mat (like for a kid’s room) and created a great floor for her booth. Of course, she was among the last of the vendors to finish packing – but she always had people standing in her “store”.
- Keep your money in your pocket, not in a register or money box. Use that for straightening and lightening your load. You’ll do better if you sell at the product display and make the change right there.
- Add the tax into your price and round it to the dollar amount… no time for coins at the carnival.
- Have a crew of loving family and friends help you break down. Order pizza and beer and celebrate your success. You’ll be exhausted after several days of living outdoors. I use clear plastic tubs with lids to carry product. Most are the same size, to stack easily. Each tub has a product brand or name on the paper taped to the inside. Give each helper a cloth to dust the products before packing. They’ll be dusty. Others can help you load tubs in no time, when they don’t have to ask questions. You can inventory them the next day. Ask them to set the tubs outside the parameters of the tent when they are loaded and snapped shut. You’ll be able to drop the tents while others are loading tubs.
- When possible, I rent the tables from the vendor event organizers. This minimum expense and the accompanying service of setting them in place, is well worth the cost. When I have to carry my own, I use the foldable white plastic type, as they are lighter and travel more compact. I always buy the 4 foot, making my booth set up more flexible. I take a thick mat to even the surface between tables. A piece of cardboard does nicely, too.
- Pack the tents neatly! Fold the canopy to lessen the wrinkles, sweep it off, if needed and stand the frames carefully. If the canopy is wet, place a reminder on your calendar to unpack it for drying at home. It’s your home away from home and you don’t want any unexpected issues when you arrive at the next event! We have seen a number of tent styles used successfully. Your choice depends on your product, space and set up staff. The guys across the way lifted my top poles because I’m so short. I appreciate them, but I really need to figure that part out. I will. I used the quick pop-up type and bought it at Tractor Supply, near my house. It came with a rolling case and clean, crisp white canopy. I borrowed a canopy with my booth brand on it and substituted it, giving our booth some clear identification.
- Dress in layers and put your hair back! You never can tell what the weather will do, so be prepared. Don’t overdo your makeup, again… the weather. Be fun, simple and enjoy the ride.
- FOLLOW UP is the key to continuing success in days to come. Be sure to have a reason to collect contact info. Shoppers are suspicious, but if you have a great reason, they’ll give you name, email, phone and sometimes a mailing address. Then, be ethical with that information.
Vendors like each other. We make deals and swaps and help each other when the tent blows. It’s a cool team of people you probably didn’t know 24 hours before. When vendor neighbors leave, they do so knowing they may never meet again. However, if you are lucky, you’ll have a plan to see each other down the road.
Take time to take it all in! All the smells, jokes, people-watching pleasure, and opportunities that come to you are profit. They are experiences you didn’t have yesterday. Make notes on your calendar and consider whether it would be good to rebook right now! The world is small. There’s always a new inspiration, a new friend, your next potential partner, and of course, the sell… profit comes in many ways- don’t miss out on any of them.
The girls have been working hard, while I watch, look and plan. I’m not a gardener, but I love looking at it, planning things I’d like to see and showing it off to my friends, who know me well!
Those friends know it is a chore for me to stop what I’m doing and water the pretties that adorn the ground in front of the brick. They know that I’d much rather pay someone else to make it so. Don’t laugh… I would much rather be planning a booth at the fair and gathering help to run it. But at the end of the day, I want to sit with my love in the “garden” and relax while the fur babies run and play.
So, as you can see, there’s a little progress on this day.
After removing the overgrown and ugly, the “girls” cleaned and cleaned to remove roots, grass and amazing finds (old bottle opener). They named all the critters that scampered out. PRINCE CHARLES is a lizard and Queenie is a butterfly. DAMMIT is a sweat bee, and I forgot the King Snakes’ name. Before laying the black “plastic”, as I called it, we took a day and Ronnie (our token man on the job) sprayed for weeds and whatever. That’s ALWAYS his job at this house. Now we are ready for the plastic. Of course, it has a name! Vigoro Weed Barrier Landscape Cloth. I chose it because it let the water through. I don’t want to be wasting my time watering plastic! I picked it up during one of my many trips to Home Depot to plan this project. It took 90 feet and then I bought another roll to do a smaller area in the yard, you’ll see later.
Next, they added the black lava rock. I couldn’t believe how inexpensive it was and since our roof is black and some of the brick is charcoal, it makes a nice visual contrast. I hope there’s not an obvious negative reason the cost is low. If there is… I missed it. So, for now, I’m good with it. I hope the sharp edges will deter the critters from digging up prized goodies.
I bought the lava rock at Lowes. The salesperson kept trying to sell me on the red because our dirt is redish and may stay neater and brighter, but I still love the black. I looked at river rock, white rocks, egg rocks, mulch, and more mulch! Who knew there were so many choices. The black lava rock was around $5 per bag and we have now cleaned out their inventory and are patiently waiting for more to arrive. It’s lightweight, so it’s not a problem for our handy strong girl to move it from the truck to the garden. In fact, she took care of that little chore before we even knew it!
I took off plant-shopping and found some lovely boxwoods at our local Hudnall’s Nursery in Pittsburg. Steve and Sherry are the nicest people and Steve is full of great advice. We ended up with dwarf crepe myrtles, something purple-ish and the boxwoods. They’ve been in the ground almost a month and they are doing fabulous! He suggested we use Landscapers Fill instead of peat moss, for the nutrition. I think it was a great suggestion, and again very affordable.
Next… the septic pipe. Yes, we live in the country and there has to be a clean out spout. Of course, we weren’t at home when this happened, or it wouldn’t be in the middle of the yard! So, the delimma is how to hide it, but still have access. We had the 16×8 cinder blocks, so down went the plastic and round went the block. You’ll soon see the end and the change of this project.
We only have a couple hours a day to devote to this, as everyone has another job… except me! I have a side gig with Avon. It’s my Plan C. I stay busy, helping others reach their dreams, whether it’s their skin care dreams or their earning dreams. It makes me feel good to help, and it’s inside, where it’s clean.
I’m still looking for ideas to dress up the septic clean out spout, so if you have any, just post them below. Diana wants to build a gnome out of clay pots. It could be portable, but could we easily mow around it?
So, for now… the breezes are slowing as the evening comes. I’ll be lighting the keva soon and we’ll have a toddy in our garden. Everyday brings us closer to the goal. Each day we invest in it and each day it grows more comfortable. The Girl Project is coming along nicely.
I finally settled on a project. Well, I’ve chosen several. Visiting with my friends, the other night, I learned it’s pretty common to “bite off more than you can chew” when you first decide to retire.
So, I’ve backed up to regroup.
Three months ago today, New Avon gave us notice and I had to decide what my future would look like. I’ve always had a plan and always known what my DREAM was, but not necessarily when it would happen. So, I have had the opportunity to reflect and rethink the dream.
So, now… while returning to direct sales for my “gig”, I have time to complete a few projects that will lead to that picture I see in my future.
To have what I desire, I need a pretty back yard.
It doesn’t have to be fancy. Just neat and comfy with very little maintenance required. I really do not like yard work, but enjoy the benefits… whether I earn them or buy them.
I called a friend that loves to do outside work and has some great ideas. She’s known me for 35 years, so she knows my likes and dislikes. She listens to my concerns and my goals and encourages me in a different direction when she knows there is upkeep on the horizon.
The message I left her went a little like this: “Hi, Sherry. I hope you are ok today. My yard and my future well-being require your assistance. I hope you are free to visit soon.”
THREE DAYS LATER, she got the courage to call. She knew it meant work, because she knows about me and outdoor work.
She asked lots of questions and I found the answers. She has another friend who loves that work and would like some extra bucks, so she can help. It’s a girl project!
Day one comes and goes… no one shows up – not even me!
Day two arrives with the overgrowth being yanked from around the house and add-on. Progress.
They decided to save the rose bush, and use it in another area. The hydrangea stays, the monkey grass is relocated for a bit.
The numbers of critters in the garden are the main reason I don’t like gardening.
I watched with goose bumps as the spiders (of all kinds) scampered across the house, tools and ground to find a new dwelling. The King snake had to relocate and the lizards were moving quickly to the other side of the house.
We picked up the soapy water bottle to allow the bees and yellow jackets to crawl away and find a new home and I hate to admit it, but we sprayed that huge nest of wasps from under our chairs!
The mosquitoes are another story, so we grabbed the Bug Guard and the Skin So Soft to be fully prepared.
Our brick has so many colors, I’m excited to shop for ground covers, plants and “littles” that personalize an area. But, that’s another day. For now… I feel comfortable walking outside where the plants used to reside and see the cleaned area with the weeds slowly giving way for a future oasis that is lovingly referred to as our girl project.
One of the things I can do whether retired or beyond busy, is pray. A quick prayer is as welcome to the Father as a long, deep conversation because the Father loves his children.
Simple. Honest. Bold.
Sometimes I find inspiration on Facebook that is real:
“And for a moment, no one cared about statues, politics, race or religion. Everyone came together to help their neighbors, friends and strangers survive. Maybe God chose Texas to lead the way. To show the rest of America how to unify and work together towards a common goal. I have never been more proud to call myself Texan. Copy and Paste.. #Lovethyneighbor #godblesstexas #texasstrong #texasforever #ProudtobeATexan #wearetexas”
The sun came out today. I’m about 4-5 hrs. north of the disaster. In the thick of the volunteers. We seem to have been spared the rains, but not the worry and concern for those Texans and our guests trapped in the devastated areas south of here.
They are part of our family as sure as the sun came out!
In my 60+ years in this great state, I’ve seen many demonstrations of big-hearted giving.
Young men from our rural town have gathered their boats, gassed up their trucks and settled their young families.
Young women have filled their cars and SUV’s to head south to help.
The adults are mentoring the volunteers of tomorrow by encouraging them to gather water, clothing, toiletries, and other suitable donations.
The Christians are praying, the government is planning, the people are doing what needs to be done.
In our town, everyone has an opportunity to serve. In our town, children are led by example. In our town, the good citizens lock arms and hearts together and reach out when needed down the road.
Lately, it seems our differences had driven a wedge in our family. The unforgiving and the negative assumptions have closed the minds and hearts of many.
Maybe this rain will soak that wedge to pliable understanding and openness to thoughtful contemplation and unity.
Maybe God will be heard and felt and enjoined with us as we stretch to reach those in need.
Texas has a giant heart.
Move over, Harvey!
Today MONDAY – Follow Up Day.
Following up from the weeks’ successes and moving the ‘almosts’ into the water as they decide to “step off the boat”, as my pastor, Chad, shared Sunday- is my Monday goal.
As I sat there 7 rows back, listening to him, I could just see the incredible realization Peter must have enjoyed when he realized what Jesus was offering him. His HAND! His SUPPORT! His PROMISE! I loved that picture in my mind! When we have the faith to ‘get out of the boat’, we just may find ourselves ‘walking on the water’ as Peter and Jesus did TOGETHER! It reminded me why I love what I do!
Don’t worry, I didn’t miss the message… we were talking about having faith in our heavenly Father to keep us safe as we do his bidding and move our lives in the right direction for His glory… not ours. Still, it reminded me why I love what I do!
I can’t help but think of the similarity as I begin my follow up routine this Monday morning.
I’ve seen many people start to do something they just knew they would love… only to realize their faith in themselves would soon falter and they’d be looking for something else along the way- because their experience wasn’t what they desired. Many times, they just didn’t think it through or don’t have the skill, money or time to devote to a new endeavor. Sometimes it’s not important enough to acquire the skill, set aside the money or devote the time… but they are positive minded and they should be able to “do it”.
Anyone can think positive for ten minutes. Anyone can throw money at an opportunity and play at business. Anyone can start an exercise routine and anyone can start saving money. Just because we can, doesn’t always mean we should.
Only the strong can keep a positive attitude when the sales don’t come in, or it’s too hot outside to run, or they really want to buy something outside the self imposed budget.
Because sales don’t always come in when we want them. Sometimes, we need to leave the house and attend a function or spend .69 on a brochure and drive 15 miles to a location and drink sweet tea with a prospective customer before she will spend her hard earned money with us. Sometimes, she will spend $5.00 and sometimes $50. BUT, the JOY of meeting people and learning about their needs, and being able to HELP is the best feeling in the world. Sometimes, we will sweat and do without.
I believe if our faith in our own abilities and willingness to develop ourselves to succeed can thrive, the real winner will be us! It’s not about selling someone more, it’s about meeting their needs, solving their problem or providing a good example for a new team member. Doing the right thing for each person is never wrong.
Sometimes someone needs a hand.
In sales, we get to meet an awesome person who allows us to come into her life and get to know her. We get to help her solve problems. We get to care that she is here on this earth and how she is making out. Some people need us to care! I’m glad I get to be one of those people.
So back to my Monday Follow Up. While I know that not every customer buys every time, and not everyone I believe would make a great business partner will , I KNOW success is somewhere, someone down the line. I stay vigilant and caring and yes, positive minded. I want to call, inquire, share great news and hopefully, provide inspiration.
During the week, I meet new people, visit new places and try new strategies. I gather email addresses and phone numbers, connect with others on social media and through referrals. I unfold myself to them at the first meeting and strive for a connection. I pay to play by furnishing the best samples, sales materials and services I can offer. I spend time developing my skill.
And then… comes Monday!
Without the follow up, we can’t finish the conversation.
Did I connect? Will they let me in? How will I help? How can I make a difference? That’s what Follow Up is. Trying to make a difference… in a friendly, business kind of way. Helping someone else take a step out and be there to offer the support they need. Giving my promise to give great service, thoughtful answers and a big hug (or handshake, as needed) . Doing the right thing for the right person. Doing this together.
That’s why I love what I do on Monday morning!