Adventures in Faire-y Faires

In passing at my oldest daughter’s school one morning, a fellow mom mentioned a Maker Faire that is annually held in Oakland.  I inquired about it, and it turned out that it is a PTA driven school fundraiser of sorts.  That is attached to benefiting the StudioOne Art Center in Oakland.  I recruited my Mom and my Aunt, who had previously done boutiques and craft fair things when I was a kid.  Looooooong story short, I applied after the deadline and was denied.  I thought, well it didn’t hurt to see if they had any room, so maybe next time. The very next day, I got an email with a booth number and instructions on the Faire day’s events.  OK, so we’re in then. Great!

Cut to the week before the Faire.  We decided on a course of action and inventory, and what projects we wanted to finish before then.  It was an eclectic inventory mix, but mostly centered on hand sewn goods.  With some jewelry and stationery thrown in for good measure.  During the week before the Faire day, the folks running the show held an open house that we attended.  They showed us our location, which was inside the school’s art room.  NOT in the Art Studio.  This should have been an important distinction.  It was not, at the time.  My Mom and I decided on how to set up and how to make our section look cohesive, and then went back to finishing projects for the big day.

The day before the Faire, I was making tags for jewelry and applying them to everything, my mom was embroidering like a mad woman, and I even went to Kinko’s to spend $35 on two 16×20″ posters I made to highlight the fact that a scarf in our Etsy shop was featured on lilsugar.com .  It was an “as seen on” sign with screen shots from the site, which turned out great.  It turned out that our location though, was not so great in the grand scheme of things.

I mentioned we were in the school art room.  EVERY OTHER RETAIL SELLER was in a “Crafters Hall” on the opposite side of the same building.  So, it’s logical to say that if you attended the faire and walked that “hall” room, you thought that was it.  Because there was one sign, ONE, that was way above eye line and not even in the Crafter’s Hall to tell you there might be more stuff to see.  We shared this art room with another seller, a pair of girls; young, nice and one even worked at the school.  They also noticed the severe lack of traffic.  I saw a list of “locations”, but it wasn’t a listing of who was where; it was more of a list of buildings that were open.  Thank god I tweeted what building we were in, otherwise my 3 followers wouldn’t have found us at all!!

Ok.  I’ve mentioned I disliked the location.  I also mentioned I disliked the lack of traffic due to the location.  We managed to make back the cost of the booth, and a little extra.  This was NOT what I had planned, as I had broken it down to we only needed 10 people to spend $5 an hour, etc.  We’re there for 7 hours- you get the picture I’m trying to paint here.  Needless to say our experience was SEVERELY disappointing.  Especially after the folks running it had touted they get about 5,000 people on average at this event.  They may get that many people, but this wasn’t a Faire for retail makers in my opinion.  So why call it that?  It was literally all demonstration based!  There were a ton of demo stations, a ton of burning-man-types with really large metal toys that spat fire… which I really think is awesome.  Really, I do.  But this was not what I paid a $100 fee to be a part of that day.  I guess the fact that I asked to be inside was a detriment?  There were folks outside selling, I hope they had a way better day than I did.

The best part of the entire day, was that one nice woman approached us and said she liked our work.  She also said she was trying to find makers for an upcoming December event at Albany Middle School, which upon first thought was not something I was into.  But that was literally based on the time spent and wasted at StudioOne / Park Day School.  I’m a little more inclined to attend this December event, only because something good HAD to come out of that day 😉

See you again in December, when I blog about attending that event!!  Or before then.  I’ll blog about stuff before then, I’m sure.  Stay tuned, and stay crafty!!

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