As I was saying, I'd done quite a bit to prepare for this, my first craft fair. For instance, I finally decided to buy a smart phone and the one I settled on was a Samsung Galaxy S4. One reason I bought a smart phone was so I could make mobile credit card transactions. After doing quite a bit of research, I decided to go with the app by Intuit, especially since I'm familiar with QuickBooks and TurboTax which are part of the same company. I was attracted to its ease of use and the security it provided for my customers. There was only one problem: I couldn't get the card reader to work. Finally I called up Intuit's technical support for help. I love calling technical support because they explain things like you're in kindergarten. "Ookaay," they say as slowly as possible, "Doo yoouu seee thee buutoon aat thee bootoom oof thee phoone?" Funny thing is, I found myself answering in the same way: "Suure Iii doo. Whaat doo yoouu waant mee too doo wiith iit?" Well, to make a long story longer, I/we never figured out how to make that card reader work, so I had to input everything manually. It was kind of nerve wracking at the fair when I had an accountant (I'm not making this up) standing there watching me input her information one digit at a time. Man, that keyboard is small! I kept hitting the wrong numbers so I thought, "Hey, I should lighten things up by saying 'Yeah, this is the first time I've ever done this. Hope I don't screw it up!'" but somehow that didn't seem like the right thing to do. Then when the transaction finally went through I found myself asking, "And would you like for me to email you the receipt?" Inside I was saying, "Please don't say yes. Please don't say yes." Of course she said, "Sure, that would be great." So I stumbled around inputing the email address she was spelling out that was 27 characters long.
I'm getting ahead of my story so let me back up a little. The night before the sale, I very carefully packed the car full of pots. I don't have a truck or van, only a Honda Accord. Some of my friends with trucks or vans pack all of their pots in large plastic trunks with plenty of padding. If I packed my Honda the way they pack their trucks, I'd have about 12 pots at the sale. So I worked out a system of layering vases in the trunk using towels, bubble wrap, and newspaper. Bowls went in the back seat using the same system. By the time I put in two 6-foot tables, my car was pretty full.
So my wife and I left early in the morning on Saturday with our car stuffed with pots and headed for Hickam. But when I pulled up to the main gate, the gate I always pull up to when I'm going to Hickam, none of the guards knew anything about a craft fair, and one of them was looking suspiciously at the huge bumpy mound in the back seat covered with towels. But before they started investigating, someone with an orange shirt hurried over to me and said, "Hey, you're at the wrong gate. Don't you know this is the broad gate that leads to destruction? You're supposed to go to the narrow gate at the other end of the base. Didn't you read the instructions we sent you?" I felt like saying, "If I'd read the instructions do you think I'd be here right now?" but instead I sheepishly asked where I might find that blessed gate, the narrow gate through which I could find salvation. "Just do a u-turn here," she said. "Stay to the right until you see three trees in a row. Take a right there and then look for the house with the beige paint and brown roof. You'll turn left there but then turn right immediately at the house with the basketball goal or you'll end up on the shooting range." And they wonder why guys don't ask for directions! So did I make a beeline for the gate? Not on your life! I took wrong turns and hit deadends, almost ended up in the Slough of Despond. I started to panic since I was supposed to have my booth totally set up by 8:30 and it was already 8:10. Finally, after much meandering, I saw a sign that said "Hickam Craft Fair" with an arrow pointing me to the true path. In the distance I saw someone with an orange shirt holding what looked like a clipboard in her hands. As I drove up to the blessed guard shack at the blessed gate, she said "Are you Jon Rawlings?" I said, "Yes I am." She put a check next to my name on the blessed list, the guard motioned me forward, and as I pushed the accelerator I felt a burden slide off my back.
By the time I arrived on site and pulled my car up to booth F, it was already 8:15. Thankfully I was able to get the tent up with the help of the two ladies in booth G, and everything was set up by 8:30. I thought the tent would be too small, but after setting up my tables I realized how tiny my display looked compared to everyone else's. There were too many pots on the tables and as it turned out everyone was afraid of picking one up because if they banged one pot against another it might start a domino effect. "Man," I thought, "My display sucks. I need to work more on this." Then I looked over at the booth next to mine and noticed Brenda and Terry setting up their display of crocheted animals and toilet roll covers.
Well, the craft fair began at 9:00am sharp. There was a steady flow of people coming to my booth and by 11:00 I was sure it was going to be a great day. Little did I know that Mr. Storm Cloud was about to put an end to all my fantasies of selling half my pots. Promptly at 11:00, the heavens opened and let loose a gully washer. And the rain didn't fall down, it fell sideways. The only place you could stay dry was in the middle of the tent. It rained hard for about 20 minutes. By that time, the crowd had diminished considerably. I had a few people come by in the next hour but by 12:30 it was raining hard again, and then again at 1:30. The crowd thinned out so much that everyone with a booth started visiting everyone else with a booth just to keep up appearances. Finally, some of the vendors, the weaker ones, started packing it in and left around 2:00. Hardier souls like me hunkered down until closing time at 3:00. Of course, it started a steady rain at 3:00 that didn't let up during the entire hour it took us to load the car. Kind of made me wish we'd left at 2:00.
I've learned many important lessons from this, my first craft fair. One of the most important is that no matter how badly your sales have gone, there's always someone else whose sales have been epic, and that someone will always find you. I recognized him as soon as he walked up to my booth about 2:30 with a big smile. "Hey," he said, "How you doin today?" "Oh, not so great. Wish it hadn't rained so much. Scared everyone away. How'd you do?" "Oh, I did okay, I guess. Had a lady come by with her daughter, almost wiped me out. Bought 6 of my wooden bowls for $350 each. Gonna use em for Christmas presents, she said." I just stared at him.