Friday, December 11, 2009

Holiday Bazaar Show

Last week, University of Illinois students put on their annual Holiday Bazaar Arts and Crafts show in the student union, and Beaded Jewelry by Susan was there! This was our first time to do the show with our new equipment set-up (see earlier posts on The Big Transition). We had rented three tables for our displays of earrings and necklaces.

Instead of our panels with foam core display boards, we used eight lightweight (easy to carry) rotating display units. Each unit fit into a cardboard box (apple boxes, actually) for being transported in our van. Some of the displays were up on wooden stands my husband had made, and some were just on the tables.

I had to put some necklaces on the table among the earrings displays because they were too many to fit on the one table reserved for necklaces!

One of the display units holds special earrings on sterling silver and gold-filled wires, mainly earrings designed with vintage or expensive handmade beads that are priced from $20 to $30. The other seven display units hold $12 earrings in a wide range of styles, colors, and materials. Two of the displays (only two so far, that is) hold earrings that have been listed on the etsy site.

I took about two hours to set up shop for the two-day show. It was a chilly, windy day, and carrying in all of the boxes and totes wasn't really much fun, but it was a good deal easier than when we used to carry in heavy steel display panels, boards to hang, and a heavy table of our own.

I use Indian-style bedspreads as table covers, with black felt pieces on the top. One table was reserved for necklaces -- on velvet necks and laid out in rows. The middle table included a bargain bin, two T-bars with pendants, the display unit with the SS/GF earrings, and room for our sales equipment. The third table was filled with rotator displays of earrings and some additional necklaces.

Fortunately, we were able to set up the displays and then leave everything in place overnight for the second day of the show. I have to say that the first day of the show was very very slow in terms of sales, but things got better on the second day. Meanwhile, we chatted with each other and various shoppers, and I went around and greeted the other vendors. I passed out fliers about the outdoor show equipment we are trying to sell. No takers yet, but I have high hopes for getting our LightDome tent and Graphics Systems panels into hands that can use them.

Last year, the students had arranged for holiday music to be playing in the background during the show, and it was a nice touch for putting people in a holiday mood. Of course, for the vendors there for the whole two days, the fifteenth time "Rudolph the Red-Nosed ... " came on, there was a group sigh. But still, it was nice. So we asked why they weren't doing it this year. It turns out that they were waiting for a "technical person" to get out of a meeting and set things up. Okay, so when the music finally came on, it wasn't really holiday music per se. It was sort of new age type acoustic guitar. Very laid back and pleasant in its own way, but the kind of music that can have a lot of repetitive sections to it. As a result,
it took a while before everyone realized that the CD was evidently STUCK! It soon became not only obvious but excruciating. When we told the students that they needed to do something about it (before we all went crazy), they said they were working on it. We wondered how much work it could take to operate an OFF button. Oh well. When it finally stopped, there was immediate spontaneous applause and hooting!

As for other highlights of the show, I suppose I could include the chicken sandwich my husband obtained for me in the downstairs snack bar. Most of the shoppers were students on break between classes and the occasional faculty or staff member. It's always fun to observe the campus community (of which both my husband and I were a part for so many years!). David watches the booth for me when I need to take a break, but he isn't so comfortable trying to "talk the bead language" to the shoppers and always hopes I'll return soon.

Of course, I thoroughly enjoy talking the "bead language" and will gladly bend the ear of any shopper who is interested in questions such as the following: What kind of stone is that anyway? Where are those beads from? How do they get the colors inside the glass? Is that carved wood? And so on.

I'm crazy about collecting beads, of course, and many folks ask about where I get them. The answer is everywhere and anywhere. When I can, I go to trade shows where importers bring beads from places near and far. I use mail-order, especially for findings such as earwires and headpins and beading wire. I occasionally buy antique pieces and take them apart to re-use some of the beads. Sometimes my friends travel and bring back beads for me. And I shop online for beads as well. The collection has grown over 18 years. Sometimes old beads that I hadn't used in a long time wind up being the perfect match with new beads that I just found! It's like stamps or other kinds of collecting, I guess, there's history and information of all kinds ... beads are works of art, but they are also stories worth telling.

Well, that's it for the holiday show. We won't be doing another show until the next indoor show at the student union for U of I Mom's Day the second week in April. Between now and then, I plan to add lots more items to the etsy site.

1 comment:

  1. Hi, Susan!!

    I really like the lightweight rotating display units.