Thursday, April 29, 2010

A bit (more) about me...

**Please forgive any weird spacing here. The blogger formatting had a mind of its own tonight!!!

D. over at Nine Ways Down posted this little Q & A the other day an asked us to do the same.

So, since I have many new Followers since I last poste one of these lists, here goes:

1) Favorite Hobby:


It's a toss up between reading a juicy novel and painting.


(I try to do some of each every day!)








2) Favorite TV Show:
Another toss up - Two And A Half Men and Modern Family


3) Favorite Restaurant Food:
Fried mozzarella sticks


4) Favorite Thing to Shop For:
Greeting Cards - I love to send cards and always want to find the one that's "just right" !

5) Favorite Animal:



It's got to be dogs, specifically a golden retriever or a beagle.


(Strange thing is, I collect all things reindeer! I have at least 500 of them! Illegal to keep live ones in our State, though.)




6) Favorite Song:
Eric Clapton's Wonderful Tonight

(The Big Guy can't sing but I love to have him sing this one to me. According to friends and family, love may be blind but this proves it definitely is deaf !)


7) Favorite Word:

FLEXIBILITY !!!

(It's become my mantra!)

8) Recent Favorite YouTube Video:

I couldn't get this one embedded here, so I'll just have to link.

Comedian Jeanne Robertson's "Don't Bungee Jump Naked!"


9) Favorite Movie:
Tonight, I'd have to say Elizabethtown. Tomorrow, I'm sure I'll lean another direction!


10)Favorite Childhood Memory:


I couldn't pick one specific memory, so I'll have to go with the general beach vacations with my family, specifically a few where my grandparents went with us after they could no longer make that drive alone.







Tell me something about you !

Reblog this with your answers and send me a link !

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Working the Shows Wednesday - Pricing Your Product

"How should I price my work?"


It's been a dilemma faced for decades by crafters trying to sell their work. There are almost as many theories and formulas for arriving at a retail price as there are craft shows out there.


I'm not going to tell you how to determine your selling price here. The purpose of this post is to look at how craft show pricing should compare with online pricing. Again, there are many theories and arguments.


Many will argue that the price of a specific product should be the same both online and at a craft show. Some insist that you can't get the same amount at one or the other and the crafter should lower the price at the show or online, as their argument goes. There are some sellers who figure the retail price based on the overhead expenses of each venue and even vary pricing from show to show.

The dominant position found in the many craft discussion forums concerning this subject seems to be keeping uniform pricing in both online markets and at actual craft shows. Some of the reasoning presented includes the angle that most of us are handing out business cards, fliers, brochures, etc. encouraging craft show customers to view our websites. If pricing for the same product is inconsistent, some may desire refunds or hesitate to buy online when they figure they may come across your booth at another craft fair and find the same item for less. Customers may find these discrepancies unprofessional and may hesitate to turn to you for future needs. Customers may see the varying prices as an indicator that you are willing to haggle and may accept lower prices than those you have posted (in either marketplace), again, taking away from your professionalism.

Those who argue in favor of fluctuating pricing use the reasoning that many shows are conducted in areas that are more affluent than their average online buyer and will willingly pay more than the average Etsy (or other online) buyer is willing to accept. Ideally, there should be less competition at your local craft show than in the various online markets. I've heard some justify higher craft show prices by noting that online sales get shipping and handling added to the price and, therefore, equals out in the long run.

On the other hand, many shows are held at school or churches and appeal to more customers who are out there looking for a bargain. Some sellers believe they need to post lower prices at these shows to reel in those buyers. They'd rather lower their prices to move more merchandise at the show generating more ready cash in their pockets. (As a general rule, most of us do sell more in a single day at a craft show than in the average week online.)

Those who base their selling prices on overhead in the particular marketplace may argue that the average craft show costs more to do than posting an item online. In terms of the crafter's time alone, placing an item online takes mere minutes and we can move on and do something else while our product is on display. If we are selling at a craft show, we have invested the time making the product, setting up the display and then the hours of sitting by waiting for the customer to make the purchase. In this case, the seller would need to add dollars to the price to justify an hourly wage!

***Don't forget, when considering show expenses, you do need to add in more than just the show fee. You will use gas to get there, incur wear and tear on your vehicle, probably have food expenses, wrapping and bag expenses, display expenses, etc.

I, personally, subscribe to the uniform pricing theory although I have been known to run a show special for an item or two (usually seasonal). I also have a number of products that I do not carry in my online shop but do take to actual craft shows. Some of those items are lower priced come-ons but quite a few are one-of-a-kind or difficult to ship products. I do advise customers expressing interest in those items that they will not find them in my online shop.

Pricing, regardless of the marketplace, is a very personal decision. Only you, as the crafter, can determine what you want to make form each item. Losses can be seen in very obvious solid figures but profit is a subjective issue. You can figure what an item cost to make, how much overhead is involved in the particular market and how much time you invested in making and selling the item. Only you can determine what your time is worth to you and what amount over and above those expenses and time investments, you consider a proper profit.


The good thing here is, most of us are still selling in a world of free enterprise and no one can tell you what you must charge for your own handmade work. You can charge whatever you'd like, making as little or as much as you desire per item, at least within the confines of what the market will bear.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

"LOST" - An unexpected rerun! andTeaser Tuesday - "Calamity Jayne" - Take 2!!

We missed LOST last week, so for the sake of continuity, we quickly cleared the dinner dishes tonight, pulled last week's episode up on the computer and got all caught up. All right! We were ready in plenty of time. Refreshed our drinks, made a potty run and settled in for a new piece of the puzzle only to find it was a rerun!! We were really disappointed.

The story line is confusing enough without throwing us into a flashback that is a double-flashback from several weeks ago. WE've said several times this season that if we hadn't been watching from the beginning, we would never have stuck with it this year as it gets more and more convoluted.

Is it becoming any clearer to any of you?

><> ><> ><> ><> ><> ><> ><> ><> ><> ><>

Teaser Tuesdays
is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
** Okay, I admit it. I'm still reading the same book as last week. It IS a quick, easy read but I've been busy and just couldn't find time to finish it yet. Only a chapter or two to go. So, just in case last week's tease didn't grab you, I'm giving you another push for it. Honest, I would normally run through this one in a day or two!

Here are my teasers for today:

"So far, I had a jailed drug dealer-turned-snitch, a possible set-up of his attorney, the murder of his attorney, the murder of the snitch, and a payoff of some sort. Just what that added up to, I didn't know, but I was more determined than ever to find out."
pg. 215, Calamity Jayne, Kathleen Bacus

Even further into the book, C.J. (Calamity) still reminds me of our "blue-eyed blonde ditz" to the point where it makes me laugh from a memory spurred by the tale. ("D" - I still love you!!)

PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT with either the link to your own Teaser Tuesdays post, or share your 2 ‘teasers’ in a comment here (if you don’t have a blog). Thanks!

Monday, April 26, 2010

So, how was YOUR weekend?

Is there a Lost and Found for weekends?

I know we had a weekend. In fact, ours was fairly full but, somehow, it seemed to be missing to some extent. Maybe we were too busy!!!

We actually went out on the town on Friday. Well, sort of. Other than going to dinner, we rarely go out on Friday evenings. This week we went to a fundraiser at a parochial school where they turn the school setting into "Manhattan After Dark."

They decorate to an unbelievable extent turning the auditorium, cafeteria, hallways and even classrooms into the streets and clubs of NYC. Unfortunately, my photos didn't turn out well due to the dark lighting. The auditorium became an 80s style disco while the gym was a nightclub featuring, not one, but two classic rock bands who played alternately for an hour at a time. Both were very good. (This was where we spent most of our evening.) The cafeteria became a formal restaurant with a fantastic menu and live music for your dining pleasure. After the restaurant closed at 9:30, a dance band played and then a comedy club was set up in this area even later. If you weren't into the formal meal (We had prime rib and crab cakes), there was a NY style deli set up in one of the classrooms featuring some terrific sandwiches (We ate in there last year.)

We also spent some time in the Irish pub and window shopped in the coffee and pastry shop! There was a karaoke bar, too, but we passed on that for others' comfort! (Neither of us sing!) Yes, there was plenty of alcohol available for purchase, a silent auction, a cigar bar outside and more.

This is a HUGE fundraiser for the school and lots of folks look forward to it each year.

Even after having been out late on Friday, we were up bright and early Saturday to visit the Farmers' Market in search of bedding plants for our front flower beds. We expected rain later in the day and wanted to get the plants in before the clouds burst. The morning was gorgeous! We ended up making several stops to get what we wanted but were home with the plants in the bed long before the rains came.

After a hard day's work, we rewarded ourselves with a steamed crab meal at our favorite crab house which finally opened for the season this week. We've really missed them. It's our Cheers. They know our names and are always glad we came!
We were up and out early again on Sunday, managed to run some errands and had a little fun. We managed to get home in time to watch the Orioles win a game!!! (Only their 3rd win for the season!) The Big Guy's card crowd was here for the evening , as usual, and, suddenly and without warning, the weekend was OVER!!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Bret Michaels and the Diabetes connection...

I want to ask all of my readers to keep Bret Michaels in mind as he deals with the effects of a major brain hemorrhage tonight.

Whether you know Bret from his music, his VH1 show or his current stint on Celebrity Apprentice, you should realize he is an extremely talented guy and very passionate about his causes. Bret is a Type 1 diabetic, diagnosed at the age of 6, and has long helped keep the issue of juvenile diabetes in the public eye. It is not yet known if his current situation is a result of his diabetes, recent surgery or justone of those things that occurs in our lives. In any case, the situationand his anticipated recovery are definitely impacted by the disease.

As we should all know, diabetes, in either form, is definitely a food-related issue. Most of us have family members who have dealt with Type 2 diabetes over the years and it is something you must be vigilant about. We should make ourselves aware of the disease. Know it's symptoms. If dealing with this disease, you should be well-versed with regard to the dietary guidelines for dealing with it. If you need medication to control the situation, be diligent in that area. It is a verr serious condition and can be devastating in it's impact on your life.

If you are so inclined, you can show your support for Bret by making a donation to the American Diabetes Association.

Friday, April 23, 2010

So, what's new?

Couldn't think of much to write so let's go for a little shameless self-promotion!!

This is what's new in my shop this week!! Check these and more out at Splashin or just click on the pic that interests you!



Baseball playing fish ?!? Sure to score!









Seahorse Tote! Great to run to the market for just a few things! (Do any of us REALLY only get a FEW things?)


The fish actually "flow" when this skirt sways!! (Great Mother's Day idea!!)


This is another great M.D. idea!!! What Granny doesn't want to boast about her little "Stars!"





"I think I can..." (But then, do toddlers ever really have doubts about what they CAN do?)




Just think how many things I could get painted if I had this many hands to work with at once!!!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Working the Shows Wednesday - So, was it a "GOOD" show?

This is another REPRINT of blogpost I first presented last August. It takes more than dollars earned to determine if a show is "GOOD."

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I was chatting with a crafter friend the other day and she began to sing praises about her latest show. I commented, “Big bucks, huh?” She laughed and said, “Not really. Sales were even a little disappointing.”

Okay, she just spent two days in the scorching hot and humid weather we call summer around here and had made less than she anticipated. Yet, she was so happy with the show she had already penciled it in on her calendar for next year.

“Why?”

She went on to explain the show was truly a pleasure to do and her neighbors had been great to share space with. She does feel the event has promise and will gear her merchandise to the crowd better next time around. (Many crafters there sold extremely well!) There were certain products she’d sold out of and believed she could have sold many more along those lines if she’d had additional stock of those particular items. She did have many local folks sign her mailing list which she uses to let customers know where she’ll be showing and also mails a brochure in the Fall featuring her newest holiday items. (This has worked well for her in the past.) Many people stopped to discuss her products, asking questions about customized orders and took cards. Her cards have her website listed as well as a phone number.

On one side, she had an ”older couple” who were selling oil paintings on wood cut to 9” x 12”. The wife painted the pictures which were scenes of rivers, the bay, marinas and other coastal oriented subjects. This is a popular genre in this area and her pictures were very reasonably priced. She painted throughout the show. My friend’s daughter was absolutely fascinated at the ease this woman painted with and enjoyed watching the process. The lady even explained a lot of her technique to the girl.

The husband cuts, sands and preps the wood. He also dabbles a bit with the wood, making Jacob’s Ladder toys and something that can best be described as a “clogger marionette.” The latter is a marionette type doll measuring about 14” high and there is a dowel mounted to the center of the back. Holding the stick, one can make the doll move on a table top or such as if clogging. The couple sold very well and had many returning customers who remembered them from prior appearances at the show. The husband also enjoyed talking with my friend’s children and even enlisted her son’s assistance in demonstrating the clogger doll and Jacob’s Ladders.

My friend’s children are 10 and 12 years old and have grown up on the craft show circuit. Their Dad tends to work weekends so they have spent many days sitting on the ground behind her display quietly entertaining themselves so they were thrilled to have such interesting neighbors. Turns out the old gent is a retired elementary school principal and enjoyed the children almost as much. He also served as a runner for both his wife and my friend, offering to make refreshment runs on a regular basis! I understand he also had booth sitting skills!! They’ve already asked the show organizer to place them next to each other again next year.

The ladies on her other side were a trio of jewelry designers, each working in their own medium. At any given time, one was demonstrating within the booth. Between them, they had years of show experience. They shared a lot of show information about upcoming events and discussed other marketing options, sharing a lot of good leads and information worth checking on. They also shared yummy home baked muffins. One was a gifted storyteller and entertained both my friend and her older neighbors with funny tales of shows gone by.

The committee came by regularly to check on exhibitors’ needs and were available if anyone needed booth sitters. There were coffee, juice and donuts both mornings for the exhibitors and these were brought around to their booths by wagon. Late on the second day, the organizer came around to chat with each crafter for a few minutes, getting feedback on problems or suggestions for next year. At this visit, she also presented each exhibitor a photo of their booth setup in a frame made of card stock that displayed the name and date of the show and thanked them for participating. (I’m not sure I ever received a thank you gift for being in a show.)

This was the 10th year for this show and there is a waiting list to get into this one. I may add my name to that list. It definitely sounded like a great show experience.

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POSTNOTE : Even if you've made quite a profit at a show, if it was not a pleasant experience, you might not want to call it a "good" show. I have eliminated shows that were profitable for reasons such as very difficult to load/unload, unsupervised children constantly running around the displays to the point where one is concerned for both the customers' and your own safety, disagreeable management, and more. Just as a high salary doesn't make a 905 job "great", there's more than profit needed to define a "good" show.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Teaser Tuesday - "Calamity Jayne"

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
Here are my teasers for today:

"A stitch appeared in my left side, but trooper that I am, I ignored it. The vivid mental image of the stiff in my trunk loomed rather large in the motivation department, and provided more than sufficient incentive for me to keep motoring down that country road; shin splints, blisters and hyperventilation notwithstanding."
pg. 22, Calamity Jayne, Kathleen Bacus

This is a new author for me. I just started reading this today so there' not much more I can say at this point other than the lead character reminds me of a certain "blue-eyed blonde ditz" whom I fear is closely related to me. Some incidents in the story have brought back memories and lots of laughs.

PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT with either the link to your own Teaser Tuesdays post, or share your 2 ‘teasers’ in a comment here (if you don’t have a blog). Thanks!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Goals ? What goals ?


Goals? We had goals? Are you sure?

So, we're 1/3 of the way through 2010, how are you doing on your business goals for the year ?

On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being excellent), I've got to give myself about a 3. I had lofty goals but I feel like I've been grounded by my own form of volcanic ash -- just can't seem to get off the ground.

It seems when an obstacle popped up, I accepted it and sat back and relaxed instead of finding a way around it. Don't get me wrong, my sales for the year on a whole have been pretty good. My online sales have not.

I definitely have not stuck to my plans of listing at least one new thing or renewing an expired item in the shop each day. I'd do okay for about six days and then drop the ball.

I did not throw a lot of effort into promoting for Easter. (Okay, let's be honest, I did NO Easter promoting.) Mother's Day is almost upon us and I haven't pushed there either. Talk about missed opportunities !!

Not everything was a disaster.

I DID get a Facebook business page up and running ! (Something I set out to do almost a year ago.) A work-in-progress, it's been up and running for about a week now. Please stop in and check it out at www.facebook.com/Splashincrafts .

I DID reach out and find several new big swag bag opportunities. (This is a marketing approach I have found works well for me.)

While it started out as a personal goal as it is not really business oriented, I have to believe my new food blog, Splish'n'Splash Kitchen, will also be of some benefit to the business. I do plan to have a sidebar ad for the shop and will occasionally push one of my kitchen related products like an apron or potholder set. In any case, it is an accomplishment for me to boast about!

So, in review, I need to get busy, regroup and redirect my efforts. (Think I'll go list something in the shop !)

Are YOU on track for your goals?


Sunday, April 18, 2010

Another weekend bites the dust.

Another weekend draws to an end and I have the aching muscles to prove it!!
We had our first judging event of the season on Friday and Saturday. Trekking across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge to Salisbury, Maryland, we set off Friday afternoon for the 2010 (7th Annual) Pork In The Park BBQ Competition. Growing by leaps and bounds, this event went from 90 competitors last year to 134 this year! This makes it the 2nd largest BBQ competition sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbecue Society (not including the American Royal).

The weather was fantastic!! Friday afternoon saw temps in the mid-80s and bright sunshine. This, and the top-notch musical entertainment combined with great food, carnival rides and other festival events drew huge crowds.We settled in Friday evening to judge Anything Butt (a chef's choice category) and Seafood entries. My personal favorites were a peach pie made in the style of a Southern fried pie but cooked on a grill and a great lobster bisque. I'd have loved to have had larger servings than just a judge's sample of each. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your point of view), all judging is blind judging which means we have no way of knowing whose food we've judged. So, there's no wandering over and begging for more! (Good thing, that would then turn into a waddle!)

Saturday morning, we arrived at the fairgrounds early so The Big Guy and I could both perform our duties as "Pig Police" (aka "Pork Police" or "Pig Patrol"). Our duties in this assignment are to supervise the preparation of whole hog entries. Each cook team entered in this category must cook a whole hog in one piece, then cut and present six samples of five specific areas (shoulder, loin, etc.) for judging. Our job is to observe to verify that all samples came off of that one pig. A team cannot begin cutting their entry until we arrive at their cook site. We then stay with the team until turn in time. Another group of judges then judge the whole hog entries.
Saturday morning on the Smokis Porkis BBQ team's smoker!

I always enjoy this particular assignment as it gives me a chance to meet and get to know the team I am observing. It gives us a chance to chat and each see the other's jobs. This year, I was sent to a relatively young team, new to competition cooking. They had two experienced members and three who have only participated in 3 contests. We spent some time discussing what the judges look for in the standard required four judging categories. Turns out, they fared fairly well in the overall judging of the required categories. (Anything Butt, Seafood and Whole Hog are not required categories. Participation in these categories are optional.)
A few hours later, we were seated for the regular judging session. These were the four categories required of every team in every KCBS competition - chicken, ribs, pork and brisket. Being forced to eat samples of some of the best prepared smoked meats known to mankind is a tough job, but somebody ahs to do it. I'm just glad I'm one of those somebodies!! This competition was no exception and the food was top quality. In fact, I think this was one of the best overall selections I've come across in quite some time.

After several hours of gorging, we mosied over to the entertainment area where we heard some really fantastic music. First a rock band followed by one of our favorite blues artists and his band. I'll admit we snuck out during the awards ceremony (although, considering a crowd of at least 10,000-12,000 people, I doubt if anyone noticed our departure.) We had several hours of driving ahead of us to get home.

Belated congratulations to Chix, Swine & Bovine BBQ of Jessup, Maryland who walked away Grand Champions!!! Absolute best of 134 teams. Way to go !!!!

After all that walking around the fairgrounds (probably several miles on rough terrain) and a long car ride, (not to mention a less than stellar motel bed), I was definitely stiff and achy by the time we got home. Unfortunately, The Big Guy had already set an agenda of working in the flower beds for today. Sore muscles and all, we were out ther bright and early in chilly temperatures working the soil.

Thank goodness we have a frost warning tonight, or we would probably have spent a lot more time in planting today, too. Looks like I get a chance to recover before all that bending in a week or two.

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My new blog, Splish'n'Splash Kitchen launched today !!!! If you're into food, maybe even consider yourself a "FOODIE", please stop over and check it out here.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Bits'n'Pieces

You never know who you'll spot at the Post Office "just taking care of business!"

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I've had some odds and ends of news and stuff floating around for a few days but had specific posts planned so just held them in. (I should have made some notes!)

Facebook:

First, and foremost, I FINALLY set up a Facebook Fan Page for my Estsy shop, Splashin!!! I started out to do this almost a year ago. At that time, I didn't set it up correctly and ended up simply canceling the account. Recently, after being begged by quite a few friends, I rejoined Facebook with a personal account and have had a ball reconnecting with old friends and setting up quicker communications with family members. (Most of the younger ones moved on from e-mail to Facebook quite a while ago.) It was those younger ones who were pushing me to get a Fan Page going.

As many of you know, Facebook requires you to have 25 Fans before allowing you to have a short page title. When you start out, it's a little bit of a complicated link with several parts and lots of numbers. Right now, 30 hours into this venture, I'm still a few short of that number but you can check out my page and Fan me if you'd like by clicking on the Facebook button on the left sidebar here. Or, you can click here and get there, too. Whichever you'd prefer, I'd love to have you stop by and check it out. Please let me know what you think of the page and what you'd like to see there, either by commenting on the Wall, leaving me a note here or even e-mailing me from the Splashin page.

Splish'n'Splash Kitchen:

In other news, I'm developing a second blog. This one will still be my daily spot to chat but I wanted a designated place to discuss food and everything related to food. Yes, I admit it. I AM A FOODIE. So, to deal with that fact of life, I'm diving into a food blog.

I'll be launching Splish'n'Splash Kitchen this weekend (probably on Sunday.) There will be a recipe from time to time but this will mostly be a place for food news, food humor, cooking tales - good and bad, family cooking and eating together, features about folks who are involved with food in some way or do a craft that is food oriented or inspired (I've already lined up a few of those.) I have some food events I plan to tell you about and maybe even a food game or two. The reviews of all those culinary mysteries I love to read, will now appear over there.

This will NOT be a low-fat venture!!!

I don't know if I'll be posting there daily but I hope to get something up at least 4 or 5 times a week. I've spent some time preparing some posts to start off with and I will be reprinting a few that have run here over the last two years, also. I hope you'll take a few minutes to check it out from time to time. I'll let you know which day it actually takes off.

BBQ Competitions:
We'll be judging at the first BBQ event of our season this weekend. Pork in the Park will take place in Salisbury, Maryland Friday through Sunday. This particular contest has grown quickly to become one of the largest competitions in the country and the biggest this side of the Mississippi. They are expecting 125 competitors this year.

Keep your fingers crossed that we'll have good weather. The first few years, this event was plagued by monsoon-like rains but last year was absolutely perfect and the crowds definitely turned out. Over 31,000 people came for the food, crafts, music and other entertainment. We're definitely ready for some great slow-cooked BBQ!!! It's been a long winter.


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There were some bits of national news that fired me up earlier in the week ("enraged" might be a better word) but I've had a few days to calm down and won't repeat my tirades here. ( My family and friends were already subjected to to that!)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Working the Shows Wednesday - Pockets Full of Money!!

Most of us are just gearing up for the Spring show season and some are venturing into the Craft Show World for the first time this year. As shows aren't quite into full swing here yet, I'm still drawing on past WSW posts concerning important aspects of doing a show. This one, concerning keeping your cash safe, first ran on September 16, 2009. I think it is worth repeating.

... Just what you’re doing with all that cash at your shows? I mean, do you have it locked up tight like Fort Knox or laying out in the open like those popular “Need a Penny” dishes near so many store registers? Hopefully, you’ve found a comfortable medium there.

The majority of sales at most shows are transacted in cash. We need to carry a supply of cash for the purposes of making change and, on a good day, we need to carry money home by the fistfull. So, how do we contain that cash? It needs to be kept in a somewhat handy manner for the purposes of making change in a busy sales environment but must also be secure to keep it from springing legs of its own.

Robbery is not usually a huge problem at most shows but, most promoters and organizers will admit, it can happen. Most show contracts specifically state the show is not responsible for any damages resulting from theft of merchandise or cash. While many shows do have some security personnel, you are on your own when it comes to holding on to your cash (and merchandise).

Most thefts at craft shows are crimes of opportunity, meaning we make it easy for the crooks. Common sense comes into play at this point. Let’s assume we are all bright enough not to leave a huge amount of cash laying out on our tables for all to share. It is important to keep the change box easily accessible to you as the seller but out of reach for the average customer. In my opinion, it is also wise to keep only the bare minimum of cash in the change box or tray (as the case may be). If your change container is grabbed, the crook will only have a minimal profit and you will still be on solid financial footing for the remainder of the show.

Booths with back drops or walls as a back border are always best as the general public does not have easy access to your backside. This gives the opportunity to have an additional, lower table height behind your display tables to keep your change container and other vital business supplies together and not reachable from the front of the table. If this is not an option try to sit an open, shallow box under the edge of your table with your change tray sitting inside of it where you can simply reach in and easily grab what you need.

Many sellers are now using small electric or battery-run cash registers. The drawers can be locked or coded so that they can not be opened easily by unauthorized fingers. Unfortunately, these registers don’t weigh much and can be easily disconnected from their plugs with a quick hand motion. I have seen instances where these have been grabbed, dropped into a fabric tote bag and easily carried off. Again, only keep basic change amounts in the register.

Keep all bigger bills and the major portion of cash separate from the change tray as this is the most visible of your money. I subscribe to the theory that it’s best to have the majority of that cash on your body. Pants with lots of pockets are great, money aprons or belts, or even the incredibly fashion-lame fanny pack (worn in the front), are also good.

***Do NOT keep checks or charge slips in the change box or cash register. These are generally larger sales and can account for a large portion of your sales. Again, pockets are good. I have also seen sellers who slip these into what appears to be an empty stock box under the table. (Crooks are unlikely to try to steal your empty boxes!)

Doing a show alone? While you might ask a neighbor to keep an eye on your booth while you make a potty run, it is not wise to turn all of your cash over to them. For sales not covered by the minimum in your change tray, they can simply ask the customer to wait for a second. (I’m assuming you will be literally running this personal errand you are on and not strolling around enjoying the free entertainment.) I’m not questioning the level of integrity of your neighboring crafter but I’m simply aware that they have a lot going on at that moment, what with watching both displays and dealing with customers’ questions etc. After all, most of us are just asking them to “keep an eye” on things, not make us rich while we’re gone.

Also, be aware many shows do provide “booth sitters” for those who are working alone. Most of these folks are simply volunteers willing to spend a few minutes in your booth “watching” it. Many are instructed by the show management NOT to conduct a sale. They won’t need cash backup form you.

Most cash thefts at shows occur during loading in and out. I, personally, keep my cash secure in my car until everything is unloaded. My cash is also the first thing to go into my car when packing up. (Glove boxes do lock for a reason.) It is never left unattended in my booth space during these times.

DO NOT be overly obvious when handling your cash stash. DO NOT stand behind your table counting out the wad to see how you’re doing. No one needs to know you are carrying several hundred dollars in your pockets. When carrying your cash in or out of the show, DO NOT pack it in a clear ziplock bag and carry it like a purse! (Yeah, I have seen this!)

One unique approach I have witnessed while doing a Main Street type festival was seeing a crafter make an ATM deposit of excess cash. Apparently a branch of his bank was located right on the corner. He was doing well and had several hundred dollars in cash on him. He simply walked over and deposited a large portion to his account. Now, that’s protecting your cash!

Again, use common sense. Be aware of your surroundings. Use the same precautions you would use using the ATM at your local shopping center on a busy Friday night.

Happy selling, y’all !!!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Teaser Tuesday - "The Nosy Neighbor"

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
Here are my teasers for today:

"The moment the door closed behind the federal agents, Lucy locked it and slumped against it. She was definitely in the tall grass now, and the view ahead was not to her liking."
pg. 134, The Nosy Neighbor, Fern Michaels

Fern has long been one of my favorite authors. I find her stories flow so well that I have trouble putting the book down. Most go fairly quickly for me.

PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT with either the link to your own Teaser Tuesdays post, or share your 2 ‘teasers’ in a comment here (if you don’t have a blog). Thanks!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

And, now for a little shameless self-promotion....

Another Summer-like day!! We almost hit 80 again! Made me start to think about the beach, fishing and, yes, even celebrating Memorial Day!! (That is the "unofficial" start of summer, isn't it?)

Of course, your little ones will need just the right outfits:

These are all available NOW in my online shop, Splashin! Check them and many others out.



What's more patriotic than a sailor suit?

Most people particularly love the stars on the backside!




You'll want them to be stylin' when they strut along the boardwalk in the evening, won't you? The painted sunglasses "hanging" on the pocket get a lot of attention and comments!

Want something to just wear around the beach or pool? Buy just the Beach Bum onesie (or T-shirt).It comes as part of the set or can be bought separately, here.



Has Dad taken his little buddy fishing yet? Well, how could he resist taking him along in this little outfit?




Notice there's a little backside interest here, too.


***I thought I'd just give you all a nudge towards Summer shopping!

Back at you to chat, tomorrow! (It's been a full and hectic weekend.)

Thursday, April 8, 2010

I won! I won!

Check out this beautiful bag I recently won from Olive Street Studio. Isn't it terrific?!?
You, too, can have one. Jennifer still has one listed in her shop, check it out for yourself here.

While you're there, look around at all the other wonderful items Jennifer and her mom offer in their Olive Street Studio shop. (Jennifer has a couple of other Etsy shops, too.) I absolutely adore the chenille quilts (these are their signature items) but they also feature flannel quilts, chenille toys in the form of pandas and bears, stuffed dogs, burp cloths, onesies, bibs and more. Of course, there is a nice selection of tote bags, too.

Need a good read? Jennifer also finds time to blog. She talks about a bit of everything - ranging from her shop and new products, to funny things her little one says and does, to more serious issues in life. Check out what she has to say here.

Thanks, Jennifer.

***Not only did I win, but the Baltimore Orioles (my team, such as it is) FINALLY won a game!!! Yea!!!

Now, if only they can win their home opener tomorrow night!!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Working the Shows Wednesday - MUST HAVES

Spring has arrived and so has "Show Season." I guess it's time to revive my Working the Shows Wednesdays series.

To kick off the 2010 edition, I'm actually re-running one from last year - that ever-growing list of neccesities that we need at every show. If you haven't already done so, it's time to gather these must-haves in one place so you're ready.

Originally posted here on May26, 2009, here's the MUST HAVE List:

... you need to start gathering your "Must Haves." These are those items that you need to take with you for every show as you will either definitely need them at each show or may possibly need them for emergency fixes, display problems or personal needs. Most are self-explanatory and some you'll think are so obvious that you'll wonder why I bothered listing them. (I probably put them on the list because, at one time or another, I didn't have it with me!)These items should probably be considered part of your display supplies and should be kept with the display pieces when stored. (I keep everything except the first two in a large Rubbermaid box.)

Chairs (You'd be surprised how many folks "forget" them.)
Weights for the display
Table covers
Tarps/plastic sheeting in case of rain
Small hammer
Duct tape
Twine
Clothes pins (These come in handy for securing table covers and more at various times.)

These basic items are part of your general business supplies and should be kept ready to grab for every show. (I use a plastic tackle box for mine.)
Scotch tape
Receipt book
Scissors
Paper
Straight pins
Safety pins
Ball point pens/pencils
Markers (A fine point felt marker for tagging and signs when necessary.)
Paper/Cards (for notes and table top signs)
Extra tags
Paper clips (can be used so many ways)
Twist ties
Some large trash bags
Bags and wrapping supplies for your products
Business cards
Your mailing list book (or something for folks to sign)
Any other brochures, list of upcoming shows or other P.R. handouts for your customers
First aid supplies (bandaids, antiseptic, gauze, tweezers)
Needle and threads (if applicable to emergency repairs to your products)
Glue (if applicable for emergency repairs for your products)
Hand sanitizer and/or wipes

I also carry the following:
Paper towels
A small broom and dustpan (I have arrived at shows to find broken glass, trash and more in my space.)
Bug spray (invaluable at times!)
A small roll of toilet tissue (especially when using port-a-pottys)
Sunscreen

For each show, I also pack:
Change (You'd be surprised how many people forget to bring change.)
Any applicable licenses and permits
A cooler with beverages and some snacks (There are times you will not be able to get away from your booth at all.)
A change of clothes (I have done shows where I have gotten soaked through with a sudden storm, have had something spilled on me before the show even starts or have just generally gotten dirty in the process of setting up.)

I have tried to list everything I have in my Must Haves but each individual finds specific items they need. This is a jumping off point.

Remember, it is better to drag it with you and not need it than to desperately need something that you don't have.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Teaser Tuesday : "Name Dropping"

We're approaching the season to get together that stack of park and beach reads. You know, those books you want to drag with you for afternoons in the park or lazy days lying in the sun on the sand or at the pool.


So, encouraged by Audrey over at Audrey's Country Crafts, and since I seem to be reading at least a book a week these days, I'm participating in Teaser Tuesday. TT is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. This is my first week. Hope you find it of some interest.


Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

* Grab your current read.
* Open to a random page.
* Share two (2) "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page.

**BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS ! (Make sure what you share doesn't give too much away ! You don't want to ruin the book for others !)

**Share the title and author, too, so that other Teaser Tuesday participants can add the book to their TBR lists if they like your teasers !

MY TEASERS:

"It was not simply that it was a shock; it was that it was the height of irony. After I had received phone calls and letters and flowers that were meant for the other Nancy Stern, the murder, it turned out, was meant for me."
pg. 224, Name Dropping, Jane Heller

If you are joining Teaser Tuesday, don't forget to go to Should Be Reading to add your link.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Back to the routine....

Hope y'all had a great Easter. I know we did. All in all, it was a fantastic weekend! after a dinner picinic in the park on Thursday evening, The Big Guy and I spent the day together on Friday, just the two of us enjoying each other's company. We arrived home to find our saucer magnolia tree had burst into full bloom while we were out for the day. (Yep, it happens just that fast. Unfortunately, the blossoms are already beginning to fall off.) Saturday, we attended a family party celebrating twins turning 2. Turned out to be the first cookout of the season. That grilled burger tasted great!! We had dinner with the family on Sunday and spent a leisurely day just sitting around chatting. (That's where I got those pretty flowers !!)
Oh yeah, I spent a few frantic hours both Friday and Saturday night, making candy! Somehow, I got it all done, though.

I feel like I neglected both my online shop (Splashin) and this blog for the last week or so. I got busy with orders, birthday presents to be made and candy making. Something had to give. (I'd already given up sleep!!) I resolved to get back on track and list something new in the shop each day of April. Well, I messed up on that goal already!!

I did get the cupcake apron and potholder set listed tonight. That actually counts as three listings as you can buy them as a set of apron and potholders or just the apron or just potholders. They're just the start of all those food oriented items I was making. Look for more later this week. (You can check it out here.)

So, what was keeping me busy all week?
I made a beautiful skirt for a custom order. It's ankle length, made of lightweight cotton/polyester suiting fabric and features fish all around it. I was really pleased with the finished product. I haven't decided whether to add it to my regular merchandise line yet. (I often get new product ideas from custom orders.)






I needed presents for those 2-year-olds, too. For the boy, I came up with an underwater baseball themed outfit:
I'll definitely be adding this one to the shop! (The family tots are often the inspiration for new
products for my shop.)

For the female half of the pair, I did something a little more artsy - a painting octopus! I haven't decided if this will make its way into the shop or not.
There are other items I was working on, too. It was a very busy 10 days or so. I'll be adding some of those things to the shop and some were simply for custom orders.


Hope y'all are having a great start to Spring, too.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Easter Truisms

All I Need to Know About Life I Learned From the Easter Bunny!!
*Don't put all your eggs in one basket.
*Walk softly and carry a big carrot.
*Everyone needs a friend who is all ears.
*There's no such thing as too much candy.
*All work and no play can make you a basket case.
*A cute little tail attracts a lot of attention.
*Everyone is entitled to a bad hare day.
*Let happy thoughts multiply like rabbits.
*Some body parts should be floppy.
*Keep your paws off other people's jelly beans.
*The grass is always greener in someone else's basket.
*An Easter bonnet can tame even the wildest hare.
*To show your true colors, you have to come out of your shell.
*The best things in life are still sweet and gooey!

Friday, April 2, 2010

April in the Park

We tried the Picnic in the Park idea again yesterday. (Remember, last week we did this and, after a half hour, the wind picked up and the air grew cold and chased us out.)
This week, we started out a few degrees cooler but with no wind and even more sunshine. The playground area was really full and there were loads of folks simply taking a stroll. Boats were actually moving around the basin and there was even one character out there on a jet ski!!

The ice cream stand was open and folks were buying those wonderful hand-dipped cones. It was April in the park and all was well!!
We settled in at a table with our sandwiches and were quickly joined by a cute little resident of the park. They have no fear of people and are used to begging for scraps. You need to keep an eye out to be sure they don't sit on the bench right next to you or stroll across the picnic table. They don't scare easily.


It made me wonder how many of these guys actually end up down in the trash cans and are stuck there until some poor unsuspecting soul pops the lid!