20 Apr 2009

Hamilton Makers' Market

Oye, it seems like forever since I've posted. We've been up to our eyeballs in preparations for the market. On Friday night, we stayed up until 3 am doing last minute things like packaging, pricing, loading the car etc.
My house has suffered a great deal as I've put housework aside to get ready for this market. I can't WAIT to get it back to a livable state.

The market was OK, but a little windy. Ok, not a little windy, EXTREMELY windy. Several vendor's tents literally blew away. One gal's tent frame was even snapped in half from the wind. (and it was metal...) Not an ideal situation for selling paper goods!

Mark and Lindi holding down the fort. I THINK Lindi is trying to be sexy here....with a pretzel stick? She'd kill me if she saw that I posted this. SHHHH, don't tell!

It's a good thing that we had several people to hold the tent down whenever the wind would start up. (it came in bursts). My sister, Lindi, would hold one side, Mark would hold the other, and I would personally chase after everything that blew away(which was pretty frequent exercise, might I add!)

Our original display was cute, we had everything set up nicely. Around noon though, we started taking things off the table and started putting them in containers for people to sift through. Hang tags and standing signs were tossed in exchange for post it notes stuck right to the table.Not ideal, but better than littering the lawn with our products!

My cards, a total mess by the middle of the day! But weighted down, and that was all that mattered!

Vintage drink charms. The kids loved these, I'm really glad I brought them!

Lindi's shaker games made from old album covers and children's books. The adults like these just as much as the kids!

Lip Balm and Barrettes

Mark's Soda/Beer bottle glasses

The market is held in the courtyard of the cathedral, which is mostly stone, so this is why no one had their tents staked, in case you're wondering!

I wasn't entirely thrilled with the turnout for the market, I'm not sure if it's because it was the first market of the season, or if it wasn't advertised very well.
It was 22 degrees though, (that's 71.6 if you're American) so no one could blame the weather on the poor turnout.

I will say though that the hired musicians were fantastic. First there was a jazz guitarist/singer that was sensational. I could have listened to that all day! He was an older fellow that was singing some old classics, Louis Armstong, Sinatra etc. I was sad to see him pack up and leave!

Shortly after there was a guy who played all sorts of stuff on a steel drum, that was really neat! He played songs that weren't typically reggae (Country Road, some Abba, even old hymns.) Very cool indeed!

We aren't sure that we'll be doing this market again this year. In the beginning, (three years ago) it was completely worth it. Since that year though, the turnout hasn't been what it used to be. We aren't going to stop doing shows entirely, but were going to be more selective about the shows we DO participate in.

We found that there weren't very many vendors this year and the old feeling the market used to have (there used to be a uniqueness about it!) just wasn't there this year. There used to be such a variety, and such friendly sellers. This year, when I walked around, no one really looked like they wanted to even be there. They'd nod at you from their seat behind the table and continue reading their book that they brought...
Maybe that will change, I certainly hope so.

I know that the market lost a TON of vendors when they stopped allowing food to be sold. They said it was for health reasons, but many of these people were already preparing their foods in certified kitchens.

One of my very good friends, Pleun, makes the best lemon curd in the world. She sold it successfully for an entire season. People would come and ask where the lemon curd lady was! But they've lost her, and not to mention the crowd she'd draw in by word of mouth. Her friends, family, their friends and family...
They lost a few organic farmers too. (there was one at this market, and that was refreshing to see. I did manage to buy some purple potatoes:)

In reality, the cathedral wanted to sell their own foods, so they didn't want competition. Well they dropped the ball, because there wasn't a single food vendor in sight, not even the cathedral.
No smokey BBQ smells to draw a crowd. In fact, people were leaving to go get lunch.
Not fantastic planning!

Bird seed cakes. They have a tiny wire loop in the centre so that you can hang them from a tree branch. As great as they smell, they aren't for people. (I did sample a bit of one myself though!)

We brought FREE peppermint iced tea in a giant cooler for the crowd since we learned last time that there wouldn't be anyone selling anything to drink. We were reprimanded after the show for bringing coffee and muffins. Of course I was confused...then I realized that they thought my bird seed cakes were for human consumption. I had to explain to the committee that they were for wild birds, and that it said so right on the jar they were being sold from.

Also, that the tea was free, (no, we weren't selling it), and that it was prepared in a certified kitchen. (at our church, which is frequently inspected by the health department itself!)

They quickly hid their embarrassment and asked if next time we could tell them before we bring free tea, so that they could advertise it. (seriously?)

I hate to not attend this market anymore, because I helped start it. I was one of the first vendors, and one of the committee members. I designed the first logo. I distributed fliers all over the city.
The cathedral took over though (after graciously letting us use their courtyard for an entire season) and formed a new committee, and new rules.

They got so choosy about who they let sell now that they lost some of their best vendors. They stopped advertising with vigor (and the market was new, it needed the enthusiasm) and demanded the stall fees all up front at the beginning of the season. (we're talking over 500 bucks here, up front, for a market that is so new it could flop...which it did...) They've changed that policy now, this season, but still don't have their old vendors back.

I'm really quite saddened by the entire situation. (and I'm sorry to not have something happier to post about!)

Regardless of the day, we did have fun, we always do. We sang, we chatted, it was nice to be outside on such a warm day. But we've learned something. After several years of doing shows, its about time we got some really secure displays for our items! (and maybe some sand bags:)

8 Apr 2009

Makers Market Postcard, with my little bird

Market kickoff is quickly approaching, so we've been making a lot of preparations.
Mark and I have been abusing more beer and soda bottles, and designing more stamps.
I've been making some wee designs of my larger stamps, and quite a few new ones as well! I'll be listing them in my shop shortly after the market:)

Itty Bitty Bartlett (I have a whole slew of fruits and veggies I'm working on)

The market has three locations this year, which can be a good thing, but I'm a little nervous that Hamilton isn't quite ready for that yet.
The arts community is growing and becoming more public, which is great! I'm just afraid that it might be a little bit of an overkill to have three markets a month. The same buyers are often at every market, (with a few new ones mixed in) as well as the same sellers selling the same things.
After a while a lot of people have already seen everything, and suddenly the market is dead.

Obviously some really good advertising would remedy this, as Hamilton IS a big city, so I think there's potential. I just wonder if this is too soon. We'll see!

I'm personally looking forward to all the organic produce. Some of the local farmers bring some really fun and strange heirloom varieties of all sorts of vegetables. (Ever had a purple carrot!?)

Oh, and we have some Birdie news! Since the passing of Atticus, we've been missing that silly little sound. So, we've adopted a pair of Java finches. We were told that one is a male, and the other female. I think that they're both boys though...because they both have a beautiful song. Female Java's aren't supposed to sing at all! So I guess we can take off that nesting box we stuck on their cage, as I doubt we'll be seeing any eggs. (we kinda jumped the gun and thought it would be fun to raise a few clutches).
We haven't named them yet, as we want to make sure that they're both boys before we do.

Originally, before we knew that the one is a boy, we were thinking "Scout and Jeb". (even though that would make them brother and sister...*gasp*)
Once I found out though that they're most likely both boys, I was thinking it would be fun to name them after dictators (they sound SO bossy) but do we really want our kids calling out, "Pinochet" or "Stalin"....?