Last night, John and I went to the baseball stadium for Stitch n Pitch night at the Mariners vs. Royals game. The Royals won– an unusual happening, in any game, but especially against the Mariners, who were close to achieving the wild card entry into the playoffs.
Meanwhile, I saw none of the game. I sat or stood behind a table and sold comic books, and signed them. And I met many wonderful knitters who were delightful and talked about comics and knitting and baseball. Honestly, the only way it could have been better is if I was actually in a spot where I could see the game. Or in a spot with a light– because after the sun set, there was no light and I could barely see my stock. That was a little annoying, to be honest; I knew already that electricity wasn’t an option, so even if I had brought a light, I wouldn’t have been able to use it. As a result: darkness. Other tables at SnP were positioned beneath lights.
I try to learn something from each show that I do, and I try to make each show a little different, to use one show to train me for the next one. At TNNA, I was “selling” to the industry, not to the public, and I learned that a British accent goes a looong way at fiber events in America.
At Stitches West, I had nothing to do with the selling; I just came and signed comics periodically and made sure the LYS had them available. I learned about the crowds to expect, and I developed my signature message.
At TKGA, I developed my patter into a pretty easy spiel, and I learned how to pack and set up for a show by myself. Also, adding in all the money aspect and selling to the public, which is different from selling to retailers.
At Maker Faire, the audience was much more broad, and I developed techniques to bring the customer’s eye to products that expressed a broader appeal. Also, I promoted the value of giving something away for free whenever people came to the booth.
Sock Summit was all about building traffic and sales by delivering a free, fun activity, and the result was a terrific weekend of sales. I really realized there that what we offer to knitters is something unique– and that knitters absolutely value that in a product.
Stitch n Pitch last night taught me about learning in advance everything I might need to know or prepare for. For instance, I needed to charge sales tax of 9.5% Normally, I would have just said “oh, we’ll just pay the sales tax” to keep everything in an even dollar amount. But this doesn’t work when that requires dropping the cover price to $5 and then giving almost 10% to the guv’ment– about a 20% discount on the comics, overall, and I just don’t make that much off of them to justify it. So, a frantic text message to my friend Mickey, and she delivered rolls of coins at about 5:30 in the evening, and we muddled through until then. When we arrived, it was 3:30 and the sun was beating down on my spot– I hadn’t realized it would be outdoors, and hadn’t brought a tent (we have one) that might have given some shade. Worse, our customers were blinded by the sun until it set, about 45 minutes after the baseball game started (and then, of course, there was no light). I don’t know if I could have solved any of these problems before the event, but I do know that not even knowing them meant I spent the time from 3:30 to 4:30 absolutely freaking out over things that I couldn’t control and hadn’t planned for. It was a successful night, but it could have been more successful with better planning and foreknowledge.
- Be different.
- Provide free fun.
- Know your script.
- Have the details planned in advance.
I can’t wait to find out what I learn when I do the comic book show, the anime convention, and 5 shows in 2 countries over the span 6 weeks. October, you cannot defeat me!
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