Monday, October 12, 2009

Money Monday: October 12, 2009

Wellllllllll…I’m going to be using my husband’s paycheck for those jackets and long-sleeved shirts and pants that don’t come halfway up the Denizen’s calves because Witchapalooza was not what might be called a big money maker.

In fact, financially, it was a net-negative. For a few hours I thought I had grossed just over my booth fee, but when I sat down in some peace and quiet to actually total up receipts…nah. I was twenty bucks short of the booth fee – and that’s gross, not net.

So I’m actually at less than half my booth fee in earnings overall and that’s an oh, FIE! kind of deal.

I can, however, take comfort in the fact that everybody had receipts that were somewhere between “WAAAAAAH!” and “meh.”

I mean, brrrrrrrrrrrrrr!, that’s super-deep-freeze cold comfort, but still…it wasn’t me or my goods. I actually got extremely good feedback from the customers and some great ideas for other things I could put into my booth for future events.

The problem was that the gate was nowhere near what they anticipated. The official target was 30,000 people, but what we actually got was closer to 1,000.

As in, one thousand. Not ten thousand. One.

The consensus is that we simply had too much competition. The ski resorts opened earlier than I can ever remember them opening before, Apple Hill, pumpkin patches galore, SAT testing, soccer season opening, homecomings – there were just so many other things siphoning people away, and since this was a brand new event we really took a hit when the people were spoilt for entertainment choices.

Toss in a rotten local economy and you’ve got a recipe for rotten sales.

Still, we were all really surprised by just how low the turnout was. Granted, I didn’t expect anything like 30,000 people to show up, but still…wow. It was so empty that the vendors outnumbered the customers most of the weekend.

But you know, hey. These things happen. It’s nobody’s fault, really…and believe it or not, I’ve actually had worse fairs that didn’t have the excuses this fair did.

And honestly, we had fun. The other vendors around me were great folks, and we entertained each other all weekend long. (And to answer a question: Yes that’s how you manage a potty break when you’re all alone in a booth – your neighboring vendors keep an eye on things. If you don’t have good neighbors at an event, well, limit your liquid intake and learn to hold it.)

It’s a shame more people didn’t come. There was a lot of really good stuff being offered by really nice people.

Now on the one hand, it stinks that my maiden voyage back into working fairs was basically the Titanic – not merely ‘not good’ but actually ‘in the red.’

But on the other hand, I got very nice feedback from the customers. With a better gate (or smaller booth fee, or hey, how about both?), I think I would have done rather well.

This is what is known in the financial world as a setback.

They happen.

Sometimes they happen because of things outside of our control – your kid chooses the day after the health insurance expires to break his arm, the car that gets you to work every day yaks up its carburetor, you go to work one day and find the building locked and all your (now former) coworkers are huddled around the radio listening live as the (former) boss is arrested for fraud…that kind of thing.

Sometimes they happen because you made a mistake. Sometimes it’s a small mistake like a slight mall-related accident involving flirty dresses and kicky shoes. Sometimes it’s pretty epic, like, “Hey honey, how was your day and oh by the way, I bought you a new Audi! Happy…uh…Wednesday?”

Sometimes, well, they just happen. You make the best decision you can based on the facts you have before you, and it still all goes to hell in a hand basket on you.

That’s just life. You take what you learn from these things, and move on.

But it doesn’t mean you should give up. Not for just one setback. (Continual setbacks may indicate you need to reexamine your plan, though.)

So, undaunted…I’ll be unpacking, photographing, describing and uploading my inventory into my Etsy shop this week (I know, it’s like a wasteland in there at time of writing here…I was holding off on relisting until after this event because, you know, if we got even half of the estimated 30,000 attendees, I probably would have sold an awful lot of what I had…and then I would have paid the $0.20 per item for no reason because I’d have to go in and un-list them, see?) (there was a method to my madness on that, is what I’m trying to say).

I’ll be thinking about the feedback I got from customers and other vendors, and seeing what suggestions could fit into my skills and interests.

And I’ll be refining what exactly I really hope to accomplish with all this. What-all falls under the category of ‘household need’, which is therefore hoped to be paid for by ‘household endeavor’? Just how far does that go, and hey, here’s another thought: Are we willing to give up what we can’t provide for with the household endeavors? And just how far would we be willing to go with that, pray tell?

If I want “as much as humanly possible” of my husband’s paycheck to go into stomping out the debts we’ve acquired these last two years, are we willing to do without cable? Or Netflix? What about trips to Grandma’s house, or (for extreme example) electricity?

This is a project that could easily grow heads, you know? It sounds so simple to say that the goal is to have household endeavors pay for household needs…but the more I think about it, the more I realize that I may well have created a monster.

Or, I may have created a lifestyle we’ll all come to really love. Thing is, if we could take it to that high a level…then we get an end-date on having to work outside the homestead. The time will come – and rather quickly come – when neither of us “has” to commute anywhere for a living.

If what is made here at home can provide for everything we need at home, well. The cash-needs become very small indeed, right? Which means that if my husband wants to stop producing databases and start, say, making fine furniture in his own workshop instead? Even though his annual income will plummet to something a high school student finds laughable?

Welllllll…he could.

Or, he could keep on working and we could pack away cash like a pair of Fall squirrels.

OR, we could pack away the cash and then slap it down on a real homestead, with acreage and zoning for the animals and an on-farm marketplace and all like that.

A lot becomes possible, when you aren’t spending every penny as it comes in on This, That, and The Other.

I’m a little bummed that for now, I’m going to have to go out and get those new things with paycheck-dollars…but I’m also profoundly grateful that those paycheck-dollars are there, you know?

And, I find myself thinking that the garden isn’t the only place seeds are being planted; and it isn’t the only place where time is needed. I can’t go from zero to profitable business in a single fair, any more than I can throw a seed on the ground and then bend over and pick up a carrot.

Seems like anything worth doing takes time, huh? Tough luck for those of us who are patience impaired, but there it is.

Anyway…speaking of things needing time…I’ve got to go start the next batch of bread. Takes three hours to go from raw ingredients to on the cooling rack, and it’s not getting any earlier around here…


Nicole said...

That's really unfortunate that you lost money on that show. I have had that happen a few times before, and it really sucks. I had the same issue, not as high of a turn out as anticipated.
All I can suggest is to soldier on and hope for the best for next time.
I can't wait to see everything up in the shop!

Science PhD Mom said...

Yuck, yuck, yuck. I feel your pain. It seems that paycheck dollars have a horribly bad habit of zooming right out the door no matter how much we try to coax them into multiplying. I need to find the TRIBBLE kind of paycheck dollars, that's what I need... Anywho, gotta go label my apple pie filling jars. Anything worth doing seems to take about 3 hours around here too, but at least there's something nice to eat at the end of it! Hang in there, you'll get some momentum.

Moorecat said...

"Takes three hours to go from raw ingredients to on the cooling rack..."

...and then Five. Seconds. Flat. to get to "Mum, we're out of bread..."


Mizzle said...


I was hoping you wouldn't sell out, because I wanted some of those hankies, but this was not how I pictured that happening...

my verification word: 'revive'. Just like that... no 'interesting' spelling or anything... Could it be a message?

Steph B said...

Bummer that the fair didn't go better! Hopefully stuff will move on Etsy...or you could do another fair in the near future? (ducking just in case) Can't wait to see all the pretties!

Lon said...

Definitely take comfort in the fact that it wasn't just you, and that you did have positive customer feedback and sales. Even at (SCA) events where I do well, sales are down from a couple years ago.

RobinH said...

Sucks to have lost money, but on the plus side, it *did* inspire you to get a whole whack of products ready for sale now instead of in a month or more.

And you have your head straight about it, which helps. (Although I know my inner five-year-old would be lying on the floor screaming 'it's not faaairrr!' to have this happen on your first show.)

Good luck on the next one!

Kris said...

I have a friend who when she started doing craft shows grossed less than 50 bucks. Now she has a business worth about a half a million and several employees. Hang in there.