The day before our spring Patchwork Show in Oakland my three show helpers (including my dad) and I spent several hours in the blazing hot sun with no shade measuring and marking out the vendor spaces. After a few hours of repeated bending down to make chalk marks on the ground I poured cold water on my head. I could tell I was pretty close to passing out from the heat and I wasn’t the only one. BUT, our crew trooped through and we finished just before the sun went down. This is a small part of the totally not glamorous side of event production and craft shows.
Craft vendors know the unpretty side of craft shows as well… long hours of running their businesses, making things, figuring out how to load their cars, early morning set-ups, spending all day making small talk with customers, the ‘naked’ often emotional feeling of standing in a booth with all of your creative goods for the world to judge, having to pack up all your stuff at the end of the day when you’re SO tired… as a former craft show vendor (I spent over 10 years selling my goods at shows and markets) I could write pages about the unpretty side of things. But there are also wonderful parts of it… getting to meet your customers in person, the awesome feeling you get when someone truly connects and falls in love with something you’ve made, the satisfaction of being done at the end of the day. This list could go on for pages as well.
The day before the show, I couldn’t help but lament the fact that we could no longer be indoors due to the fact the building we used for previous shows had been permanently rented out. If the show was still indoors we wouldn’t be competing with the heat, as well as figuring out where to place vendors in a more spread out location. The privilege of being able to use an empty building in Jack London Square was something that we knew wouldn’t last forever. I’m SO grateful to Jack London Square for letting us use it over the past few years and from the start they told us that our days inside were numbered and that eventually the building wouldn’t be vacant. Although we’ve had the show at Jack London Square for five years, being outdoors this year felt like we were starting over.
There was a whole new set of problems to figure out like: how to layout the event overall, how to deal with over 100 vendors all arriving and unloading in just a few hours etc. We learned a lot at this first outdoor Oakland show and are already brainstorming (with the input of some of the vendors) on how to make the fall show smoother.
We were super lucky that it wasn’t as hot on the day of the show as it was the day before. We had great music from Vamp Music + Art, got to meet new vendors as well as welcome back previous ones and even had a chance to do some shopping.
We’re looking forward to our fall Oakland show and can’t express our gratitude enough for our hard-working vendors who joined us during out first outdoor Oakland show.
P.S.: Big thanks also to our staff, volunteers, venue, partners and everyone who made the show happen!