I'm back from all my travels and fairs and boy does it feel good! Relief that it is all over and that this horrid cold that has now hit me had the grace to stay away till the last fair was finished.
The photo above was taken on Sunday morning just outside as l was heading off to do my last day at Hopetoun House. Everything was frozen and white with a spooky mist hanging everywhere. It certainly made for an interesting (if slightly hair raising) drive through.
Well to sum up all the fairs and happenings of November. I have driven more than a thousand miles, spent £341.65 on petrol to do so, eaten and drank my way through £103 in coffees and food at fairs and in London and generally had a great time, allbeit extremely exhausting.
I had thought in all my planning etc beforehand, that London would be my best fair. The biggest and all that. Then l thought Glasgow would be about half of that and then Hopetoun house the least. How wrong l was. Glasgow far outstripped London in takings, then came Hopetoun House with very good sales and at the end with the least of my sales and the most expenses was London. Guess where l am not going next year!! Actually l have already cancelled my booking for London next year but upped my space for the Glasgow fair.
In one of the comments l got online last week someone mentioned how surprised they were to hear that there was a lot of commercial stuff at the fairs. Well l hate to disapoint you, but at London quite a lot of the stands are selling bought in commercial goods. The handmade stands are beautiful with work like Poppy Trefney standing out, but there are a lot of 'country' shops where most of the stuff on sale is straight from the massive wholesalers that ship it in from China etc. I don't think there would be enough truly handmade stands to fill these big venues and the commercial stuff really does sell. People buy it hand over fist to fill their houses with the 'country' look. The handmade gang cannot hope to compete with China in the produce-it-for-peanuts price war. We must always hope that people will want to pay that bit more for something special and truly handmade. It is just unfortunate nowadays that all the tat from overseas can get away with being called 'handmade' even tho it is mass produced in some third world country by goodness knows who. If they were 'made in the UK' fairs, there would be a lot less goods available. But don't be disheartened if you are hoping to exhibit and sell at the big fairs, still do it, keep your dream and make it happen. We all have to hang in there and keep our handmade stuff in the forefront, people do want to see it and buy it. You just have to build a thicker skin around your heart and not be dispondant when you see the no-brain tat flying off the shelves when you have spent months and months hand making your things and putting your heart and soul into every stitch.
Well there you have it, my rant on the fairs and what sells and doesn't. I have enjoyed it and the shelves here are now somewhat emptier thank goodness. Was it worth it, yes, but l have learned some lessons along the way. The first and most important is to budget my time more carefully and not take it away from my daughter and give it to a business that can never give me back a fraction of the joy that she can. Another is not to be dazzled by the 'glamour' of selling in London. The home crowd can be the best there is and the friendship and support second to none. Last but by no means least, don't scatter myself in so many directions stock-wise. It wasn't till l was adding up sales of each item that l realised how many different things l was selling. Way too confusing and too much for the shopper to see all at once.
And now my friends it is all back to 'normal'. Yesterday l unpacked the car fully for the first time in 3 weeks, it is amazing what you find in there! I now have to find homes for everything that has been piled up in the diningroom. Today l hope to clear my way through that little mess.
All the orders from last week have now hit the post office so Nan is happy, and l have managed to lose my pay in book so the bank isn't!
The 'Mouse Man' came yesterday and we now have more traps and poison all round HQ to get rid of the 'problem'. I have been told to keep everything out of there for a few weeks and just keep it cleared completely while this is all sorted out. What fun, l am now working out of the spare room and diningroom. Actually it really just means that l can only sell what stock l have already made. I can't do anything else as supplies etc gone and nowhere to do it anyway.
So l am about to pack away the Christmas tree just as everyoine else brings there's out. I shall look forward to replacing it's skinny plastic branches with a lovely prickly fresh one from the farm down the road, but that won't be for a few weeks yet.
Glad to be home…………