Sunday, September 13, 2009

New friends through crafts

We spent the afternoon at a small, local Parks & Rec festival. This is a small, tight-knit community located along one of the local creeks and very close to the Chesapeake Bay. They have put on this three-day event for a number of years now in the waterfront community park where the kids play all their various sports. The money raised supports the work of the rec council.

The music was, as usual, terrific. One of the local bands we follow normally plays this event on Friday night but due to a schedule conflict they played this afternoon. Normally a 5-piece group, they were a trio today but still put on a great show of popular 60's, 70's and other well-known tunes. The crowd was swaying and singing along with the band. They were followed by a popular local band that's known for great country entertainment. Unfortuantely, due to other comittments, we needed to leave before they were set up. The evening band, anchored by the local mail carrier, is an always popular show so folks were already anticipating their performance, too.

The weather today was beautiful, bright blue skies with fluffy white clouds, a big improvement over the wash out on Friday and the drizzle all day yesterday. We made a new friend with one of the crafters today who told us they had a great crowd yesterday considering the weather. Although this was her first time selling here, she is local and is familiar with the normal crowds here. I thought today's crowd was a little thin but then the Ravens had their opening game for the season today. I can safely say I saw a flood of purple Ravens shirts but absolutely no Chiefs fans wandering around !

There were only two true crafters there and both were more "Loving Hands" type as opposed to true professional booth displays. Both are retirees trying to make a few extra bucks. Their prices were very reasonable and they were making sales. (Please understand, I have nothing against "Loving Hands" work. I buy a fair amount of their wares myself. I merely mean, I didn't gain any great display ideas or such from them.)

The first booth has been at this event for several years now. A retired couple creates handpainted, wooden cutouts of popular licensed characters ranging from 6" to about 2' in size and also does beautiful, detailed handpainted plaques featuring local lighthouses and other coastal landmarks and sights. They also make basic-style, handpainted birdhouses. Their work is expertly done and beautifully painted. In my opinion, the latter two lines are what they should be pushing. They do these very well and they are definitely priced to sell. If they eliminate the licensed characters and spruced up the display a bit, I believe they would have no trouble getting into a larger juried show. I'm just not sure if they could handle that kind of sales volume.

The second, our newest friend, was the sweetest elderly lady (based on our conversation, she must be close to 80!) She was doing this show completely on her own without any assistance! In our quest for a spot of shade, we ended up sitting our chairs fairly near the back of her booth.
The booths were set up along the inside edge of a pavilion and at one point, we noticed her chair was somewhat precariously perched on the edge of the concrete slab and she would most likely fall backward in the foreseeable future. The Big Guy jumped up and helped her resituate the chair which opened our line of communication.

We discussed craft shows and learned this was her first "real" show. Her merchandise was varied including some small stuffed toys, beaded animals, fabric angels, handtowels with crocheted hanging tops, plastic needlepoint items, some small novelty items, and more. All of the items were made by her. She's been a busy lady! She was making a number of sales (I feel her prices are quite low) and was very happy with the volume. The Big Guy learned her husband is retired from the same company he's about to retire from so they discussed the state of the company (at one time the largest employer in the county). As she was alone, I offered to make a food run for her and, before we left her, she made a potty run herself, grateful for our assistance.

Apparently, while I was on that food run, he managed to guide the discussion around to my website and gave her a business card. I'm not sure she has a computer of her own at the moment but she plans to call me to discuss setting up to sell online both her merchandise and what sound like some great vintage collectibles. I think we've adopted her!!

She was truly disappointed when it was time for us to go and hugged us goodbye, wishing us a good vacation next week and promising to call me soon. I am looking forward to it!

Aren't craft folk just the greatest people? We've made so many close and wonderful friends throughout the years at craft shows.

I hope y'all take time to smile at a stranger, offer a helping hand now and then and don't be afraid to possibly make new friends. You never know where it could lead.
(I met my husband through craft shows - many years ago!)

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