Thursday, June 20, 2013

Learning from Junk Jubilee

If you follow me on "Facebook" then you know I learned A LOT from Junk Jubilee.  Junk Jubilee is a huge venue at the Iowa State Fairgrounds where vendors of all sorts set up their booths.  These vendors had to submit pictures of their items in order to be allowed to sell at Junk Jubilee.  This was my first show EVER!  It was crazy huge and stressful and awesome. 

So in preparation for my first show I collected a lot of junk.  As I painted and prepped pieces, those nicer pieces then had to go to The Columns so I could keep my booth full.  That meant that I took a little more junky stuff.  The stuff that I was going to fix up/clean up.  I filled my dads stock trailer, the cab of his truck and two mini vans full!  My dad helped me unload and then he left and I was left with a pile.  I had laid out my large pieces in my Morton building at home, but the space we were given was not quite as big as the dimensions we were given.  A couple feet can make a BIG difference in a layout.  So I had to go on the fly.  I got it done and other than Broad Street Market's ginormous cupola or another guys like 50' ladder I think I had my stuff stacked the tallest!  Check www.facebook.com/junkparlor for some pictures.  I did have to take a few things to the van to add later as things sold, but pretty much I squeezed it all in. 

I was very happy with how things sold except for my big pieces.  I was told going into this by more than one vendor that people will buy big things.  So, I brought my big things and then I took home my big things.  :)  I did not sell a single big thing.  So that brings us to my lessons learned as a first time vendor.

1.  Have something eye catching.  Even if you know it is crazy and won't sell.  Or something ugly or crazy or whatever.  You need something to make people stop at your booth and look.  I lucked out in this department and had 5 awesome pieces of 6' long architectural salvage.  I even had them on the floor and they still caught everyones eye.  They did not sell for me that weekend, but they did draw people in to look at what I had to offer.  Lesson.  Have an eye catcher.

2.  Signage.  I knew going into the show I was going to run out of business cards.  I had just got them and was going to use them as price tags.  I realized I was running out, but it was too late to get new cards in time.  I had my name on one chalkboard sign - it sold.  So next time I will have my name on something that is not for sale and on multiple somethings.  I will check my business card inventory early enough that I can order more if needed.  Lesson.  Let people know who you are.

3.  Checkout services.  So, I was lucky enough to have someone recommend that I get a square card reader.  I did and it worked wonderfully.  But, in all my reserching on line and brainpicking of other vendors, no one mentioned a checkout counter, but guess what everyone had!?  Whether it was a small table, bookshelf, file cabinet, everyone had something.  What did I have?  The floor.  You cannot wrap and bag smalls in air.  It is also a nice spot to hide things you need, but don't want everyone to see.  Next time I will have a checkout counter.  Lesson.  Bring a checkout counter.

4.  Don't kill yourself.  I didn't bring my absolute heaviest piece, but the next three or four heaviest pieces.  Remember how I said my big stuff didn't sell?  Next time I will bring big pieces, but lighter big pieces.  Lesson.  Save your back and pack lightly.

5.  Talk.  Talk to other vendors, pick their brains.  I was lucky to be close to Traci, The Shabby Next, whom I'd met through Facebook.  Then, I met everyone else close to me who I'd liked on Facebook, but didn't know.  I did a lot of brain picking.  The main difference between myself and them?  I was only doing this part-time to my real job and this was their real job!  Learn from who you want to be - talk.  Talk to your customers.  It is borderline, I had already read that on numerous blogs.  But, a lot of people talked about something I had and a memory it stirred up.  Or said they'd rather deal with me because I'm a teacher.  Or said, you are from Centerville?  Do you know...  Lesson.  Be nice and talk.

I'm sure there were many more lessons learned, but these were the main ones.  It's been two months now!  Yikes, the summer is almost over already.  I'm going to put my lessons learned to the test on July 4th in Exline, Iowa.  I've also signed up to do the What Cheer Flea Market in What Cheer, Iowa on August 1, 2, 3 and then in Des Moines at the Historic Valley Junction Antique Jamboree on September 9.  Stop by and say hi!

Neglecting and Facebook

Wow!  It has been awhile since I posted.  Often times when I don't post for awhile I haven't completely neglected the blogging world - I read my favorite blogs, just don't write my own posts.  This time though, I haven't even been following my favorite blogs.  Why?  I could say time, but really I'd say it is because of FACEBOOK.  I recently discovered Facebook.  I've had an account and I've scoped out my friends, but I've discovered Facebook as a business.

I set up a Facebook account (www.facebook.com/junkparlor) and go in spurts of being slightly psycho about my numbers.  How many "likes" can I get?  What can I do to get more "likes?"  When I post, how many comment?  How many share?  How many "talk" about me.  It really is funny because WHY DOES IT MATTER!  Most of these people are not going to drive to Centerville Iowa and buy something anyway.  And while other big boys can sell things via Facebook, I cannot.  At least not yet.  I will figure out how to make that happen eventually.  I am determined and competitive by nature.  I will win, I mean be successful.  Right now someone asks how much something is and that is it.

I know that I am not the only one who has an emotional roller coaster with Facebook.  At Junk Jubilee, my neighboring vendor and I talked about it frequently, particularly a lady who sells in her neck of the woods in the Chicago area who always has tons of comments, likes, and requests for price and purchase via Facebook.  It drives Jocelyn crazy because she has the same items, does the same things, and gets no comments or likes.  I see other business owners comment about it too.  I think a lot of it boils down to hitches in Facebook.  People don't see all of your posts because they haven't checked a certain box that they didn't even know existed.  And some people have more time to sit on Facebook at network.  I try to only when I am eating.  ;)  I'm a clean eater (aka eat every 3 hours) so I'm always eating!

Maybe I should spend more time blogging and less time Facebooking?  Or even better, I should spend more time working on my projects and less time at the computer.  Or even better, I should spend less time doing all of this and more time with my kiddos.