Preparing For My First “Last Thursday”

Currently I’m preparing for my first seller’s booth, which will be held on the Last Thursday of the month in the Alberta Arts District festival of NE Portland. There is much work to be done and yet, as I have never done this before, I have no guidelines for expectations. I am unsure how much inventory to prepare, how to organize my booth, and what all I should bring. I haven’t yet seen when sellers can show for set up. So, I feel the stress of all this and more as the day approaches.

When trying to answer how much work is “enough” I think of what I should accomplish before the festival. Certain pieces need to be stained, many need to be finished, and nearly all need pictures of them taken. I recently decided to install hardware on the backs of many pieces so they can be hung, but I haven’t purchased any yet. Some pieces I feel I could spend countless hours sanding and finishing before they are considered ready for selling. I have a few commissions lined up that I should finish before the festival despite knowing those jobs don’t add to my final inventory. Each time I think about what I should do next, I just want to cut new designs.

The vision I have in mind for my booth is one of two scenarios. I see myself with a nice professional set up like I am used to seeing at other events. A booth with a canopy, nice tables with black cloth draped over them and all my pieces hanging up or somewhere in plain sight with no clutter. The other vision is me sitting on the concrete with a wool blanket and all of my pieces on the ground next to me. I feel that the former is almost too nice for this event, being the kind of rough edged street festival it is, and the latter is pretty unpleasant during the rainy season. I purchased an old luggage trunk that I plan to display a few pieces in, and I do have a small card table. This time of year can be pretty wet so I am really considering purchasing a canopy. If that ends up being the case, I’m sure everything will fall into its place under the cover.

I feel a little bit like I am preparing for a camping trip. The big things are obvious: bring the art, bring a table, bring a chair, and maybe a canopy if it’s wet. It is the small things that I really need to have forward thinking in order to not leave behind. I have gone camping and not brought a pillow, a toothbrush, or underwear, but I always have the sleeping bag and tent! As I write this, it occurs to me to bring a lock box and some change. That is the kind of stuff I am talking about. I also need to plan signage. One of my big objectives is to use reclaimed materials so I feel like that should be obvious at a glance.

Despite feeling some fear, and stress, I know that this event will go well. I am sure I will hand out all of my business cards. I know there will be interesting people to meet. Worst case, if I decide that selling isn’t going well I can attend the event like I have in the past, get some good food, and see some cool things.

Ever forgot something important and remembered only too late? Let me know in the comments!