Last weekend was the Truckee Meadows Quilt Guild annual show in Reno, Nevada. Needle & Foot was a vendor there – this was the second show I have done. The first one was our local guild’s show in May. As with most things, I did a few things different this time and learned a bit more with the Reno experience.
Before we go into all of that, I want to talk a bit about my ‘silent’ partner. It was about February of last year when I got the idea to vend at the Grass Valley quilt show in May. But I was really hesitant to commit and to pay the $200 booth fee. I have mentioned now and then that I have difficulties with migraines. But if I were to be honest, I would describe my migraine issue with stronger language – I have a chronic illness and it really wreaks havoc with my daily life. I get about two or three migraines each week. This has been on-going since 2009. For whatever reason my body shifted (probably something to do with peri-menopause and then menopause) and the migraines kicked in with force. (I am not explaining all of this to gather your sympathies, more to show why I make some of the decisions I do.)
People with chronic migraine have a really difficult time committing to anything with a defined date or time. I rarely know how my week will go,wait – not rarely, scratch that. I never know how it will go. So it makes it hard for me to join committees, or volunteer groups, promise to take Julia somewhere, etc. I cancel out of many, many commitments. All. The. Time. When I wanted to try a quilt show, I knew I had to have back-up. I couldn’t take the chance on doing this without someone else there to run the booth if I got sick.
Knowing this, I called Patti and asked her if she would work the show with me (or without me, as the case may be.) She immediately agreed. I mean without hesitation, without knowing exactly where it was, how long it lasted, or what it entailed. That is how she is. That is how all of my sisters are. Having her work it with me gave me the confidence to go ahead with it. We did the Grass Valley show and it was great fun.
Because of the success of the first show, we signed up for a few more. Now we were planning as a team. Patti is an incredible seamstress. She has made two quilts – her first one was queen size as a gift and the other was for her daughter, Laura. But for the most part, she sews garments. She decided to make a few things and bring them to the show in Reno to gauge reactions to her work and the pricing. In the space of about six weeks, Patti planned fabric and color, pattern and detail work, to make a selection of girl’s dresses and little coordinating messenger bags.
I was thrilled with her plan because it added a whole new dimension to the booth. As you know, many quilters do not enjoy garment sewing. However almost all quilters do recognize highly skilled workmanship. I knew these dresses would be appreciated and valued by the quilters shopping at the show. More importantly, it meant Patti and I had something to work on together. Patti lives about 150 miles from me but we called and texted constantly as she developed her plan and made these gorgeous dresses.
OK – let’s talk about the show. It was a great experience. The show was smaller than the first show we did and was a non-juried show. This made for lower attendance. However, the people that were there were so friendly. They shopped our booth and made purchases – enough so I would say it was worth our time. The venue wasn’t without issues though. You can probably tell from the photos, the lighting was just awful. (These photos have been edited, lightened and brightened.) It felt like the power was out in our corner. Everything was so dark! That was quite a problem. We were carrying bolts into the light to see true colors whenever a customer was trying to make a decision. It added a layer of frustration for each of the vendors. Also, there wasn’t any wifi available. In this day of using technology for everything, lack of wifi is pretty ridiculous. We had to use cell service for our phones, had to use our phones as hot-spots for the iPads, and we were constantly charging devices to keep things going. (Because of these two issues, I will probably pass on this show next year, unless changes are made.)
We tried a few new things with this show. We arranged the bolts in more of a thematic groupings and tried to make the colors flow better (hard to illustrate with the lousy light) . I think this made the booth flow much better. I ordered black tablecloths which added uniformity to the look too. I folded the fat quarters in a different way so the pattern of the fabric was displayed better and I grouped them by colorways in the basket. It was interesting to see the difference in our sales. We sold a lot of fat quarters and lots of the little kits and notions we brought; at the last show we hardly sold any of those items. The yardage we sold was also interesting. For one thing,many of the guild members were collecting floral prints for a class that was scheduled for October. They wanted large scale prints for fussy cutting. Luckily I had a selection of Art Gallery fabrics (Maureen Cracknell and Sharon Holland’s prints) that worked for this and those sold well.
For lots of reasons, I would call the show a success. It wasn’t hugely profitable but Patti and I gained exposure, learned another thing or two about booth set-up and tear down, sold fabric and dresses, and most of all, had a great time together. The next show isn’t until mid-September. It is about 50 miles from home so a bit more convenient than the Reno show. (Even though we did stay overnight in Reno for two nights, we had the luxury of staying in my in-law’s second home. They generously gave us access to the house which was sooo much nicer than staying in a hotel – and, of course, more economical too.)
Patti has decided to go for it and she will be opening an Etsy shop with her handmade items. As this progresses, I will keep you posted – I think her work is nothing short of amazing and these dresses will be fun gifts at holiday time or for birthday gifts.
It is August now and that means school starts in two weeks for Julia. With the end of summer approaching, I want to take a bit of time off and focus on family. Today I am taking Julia and her BFF to the mall and out for lunch. Fair is next week which means we will be super busy with Julia and her 4-H project, Ella. I will turn in my quilts for exhibit later today too. There is lots going on!
As if that isn’t enough, my son and his wife and this little chunk are coming for five days at the end of the month. As I thought about all I have going on and how busy things have been, I decided to take a vacation from blogging and social media. I really want the break and look forward to shifting my focus to home and family for a few weeks. While I am away from the blog and my social media platforms, I will still be shipping orders. If you need anything in particular, you can always email me via the Etsy shop or at my email address. I am happy to help you. But I won’t be looking at Facebook or Instagram for a couple of weeks. It is important (to me anyway) to get away from all of the chatter that is social media. As much as I love the on-line community, it can be quite a distraction from daily life and eats away at my time in the sewing room too. Hopefully this makes sense to you. Enjoy this last bit of summer — I look forward to catching up with everyone the first week of September!! When I return I will share the book selection for the Autumn round of Fabric & Fiction. I also have a few other fun things planned. I’ll be back soon!! 🙂