I attended two craft fairs today. Not being a regular on the craft fair circuit, I didn’t know what to expect, but I learned a few things.
The most significant thing that I learned was how the layout of the respective fair makes a huge difference in whether or not it ends up being an enjoyable experience for me. One of the shows was spread out in a high school gymnasium and very highly attended, the other was in the relatively narrow hallways of my favorite elementary school and was sparsely attended. After today’s experience, I found that
I am most definitely a fan of the highly attended and spread out version, for reasons I will now explain.
I noted that in the elementary school craft fair, shoppers were forced to walk in an almost single file line past the vendor tables. To avoid being disrespectful or unappreciative of the arts, you had to make eye contact, walk slowly and discuss the products with the craftsman at each table since we were so close to them and there weren’t enough people there to help cause a distraction. While I certainly appreciate all of the hard work and creativity that goes into crafting, it’s not really my thing. I fended off a sales pitch for homemade spices at one table with skillful small talk: “I’m stocked up on exotic homemade spices for now but let me take your card. Who knows, you might save me a trip to Calcutta at next year’s spice run?” I agreed with the half price coffee mug guy: “Yes, indeedy. The gift of a coffee mug IS suitable for any occasion.” I lamented to the scarf and wreath lady: “Do you know what would make the world a better place? More scarves and wreaths. Thanks for doing your part. I appreciate the offer but we already have a giant Bengal wreath hanging over our fireplace.” I probably talked more about yarn today than I have in my life up to that point.
Over at the larger high school craft fair, the aisles were more spaced out and the crowd was big enough that it allowed you to browse in relative anonymity. You could duck in to a section and browse without learning about how these yarn mittens or those painted wine bottles might improve the quality of your life. I didn’t have to brace myself for small talk about how you decided that a deer antler would make a fine basket handle. It was much less exhausting than the smaller craft fair because crafter contact was initiated by me and not the other way around.
I left the second craft fair proud of myself for kicking off the Christmas shopping season with a few purchases. A dog coat for DJ made from yarn, a bag of roasted almonds and a leather beer tankard with a beeswax liner from which I’ve already drank two beers this evening. All in all, I’d call it an eye opening experience and a successful day of craft shopping. My advice to you is to make sure you have a lot of energy and a long list of quips for the crafters if you ever attend a craft fair in a narrow hallway.