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Last week I wrote about preparing to work at the vendor area of the Urban Island Beach Party, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  The festival was a lot of fun, there were local music acts all day, lots of food trucks, and plenty of things for the whole family.  This last part was especially helpful because my three and a half-year old was with us and she can get antsy.  It was easy, when she  was feeling rambunctious, my husband would take her to the soccer nets to shoot a few goals, or to the Kohl’s Art Center where she could make a chalk art drawing.  The music helped too (she loves to dance), and just walking around looking at the city from the Lake Michigan’s perspective was pretty cool.

While I think more people came down to drink beer, listen to music, and eat food; I did get a few sales, and I did learn a few things.  Here are five lessons I took from working at a festival:

  1.  Keep your tent anchored (or bring anchors in case the weather shifts).  Our tent wasn’t anchored, but we did have stakes.  About a half hour before the festival was going to start, my husband took my daughter to get some breakfast and I was alone finishing the set up.  They couldn’t have been gone more than 15 minutes when a quick rain shower blew through the area.  The wind picked up enough that I had to hold the tent down, and I was afraid it would fly away on me.
  2. Make friends with your neighbors.  I started talking with my neighbors as we were dealing with the rain, and I expressed my need for a hammer.  Luckily, the lady next to me selling oils had a mallet and lent me it so I could nail the stakes into the ground.  Not only did this kind action put my mind at ease, but she gave me a tip to always keep a mallet in the tent bag.  Later in the day I was able to talk with the booths next to me about how their day was going and how they were going to take down their stuff, which was a process.
  3. Have a set of helpers on hand.  I am extremely lucky and thankful that my husband was with me all day.  If I needed to go to the bathroom or do anything to step away from the tent he was there.  His sister and her friend were also on hand for set up and take down, and since we were on an island, and it was quite a walk to the car, their help made the whole process faster and easier.  I don’t know what we would have done without them.
  4. Be a walking advertisement.  I always wear the earrings I sell.  They are light, yet hang well, and colorful and fun.  About halfway through the day I put on one of the headbands I make and wore that for the rest of the day.  It gave prospective buyers an idea of how the band would look.
  5. Have a bright booth.  Not all, but many people visited me because my booth was very colorful.  Kids especially were drawn to my table and brought their parents with them.  I also had items that were made to be tried on, as opposed to packaged (I decided to package most of my things because I didn’t want the wind to blow dirt around on the pieces).  The “sample” garments were great because people were able to look in a mirror and check themselves out.
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The event was fun.  I don’t know if I would sell at a festival like this again, as opposed to a craft fair, because most people came to see the music or eat and drink.  But it was a good experience, and I am taking what I learned into the next show, and hopefully create more success.

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