Beyond the Veil: Confessions of a Vendor

[2023]

Cherry City Flea Salem convention center Salem, Oregon June 04 [    ]
This venue was a bit of a mystery to me, having only graced its halls for corporate gatherings. Vending at a themeless market there was a definite learning curve (and a-ha moment!), and while we secured our coveted corner booth, foot traffic felt a bit sparse. We managed to break even, earning the market a solid 4 out of 5 stars. While the event itself was well-run and the customers friendly, I think the location may have been a touch off the beaten path. This experience, though, was a valuable lesson in the power of theme and the importance of bustling foot traffic. Time to scout out those vibrant markets and unleash our full potential!

Market For the Strange Reed Opera House Salem, Oregon June 11 [      ]
If you're searching for a market that whispers "witchcraft" and screams "creativity," look no further than Market for the Strange. This event, lovingly crafted by spooky-enthusiast vendors, was a dream come true for anyone who embraces the weird, wonderful, and yes, occasionally macabre. The setting, the historic Reed Opera House's ballroom, added a touch of gothic grandeur, and the air crackled with an infectious energy of like-minded spirits. Stepping into this market was like finding my long-lost tribe, where oddity wasn't just tolerated, it was celebrated. Five out of five stars, hands down. My fingers are crossed for a vendor spot next time, even if their popularity (well-deserved, of course!) makes it a tad competitive.

West Salem’s Artisan Market At the Corner Gallery Salem, Oregon May 20 [    ]
The market itch wouldn't quit! After a two-year break, we dusted off our display and found ourselves nestled in the back of a cozy gallery, just around the corner from our studio. Nervous excitement, as always, bubbled in my tummy, but this time, a new feeling joined the party: anticipation. The air was quiet, almost meditative, like stepping into a hidden garden tucked away from the bustle.

Okay, maybe "quiet" is an understatement. You could have heard a feather fall, or perhaps the whispered secrets of antique paintings (we were in a gallery, after all). Turns out, our market day coincided with a bigger event down the street, which meant foot traffic wasn't exactly bustling. But a few curious souls did wander in, lured by the promise of unique treasures. Luckily, their purchases covered the table fee (whew!).

Three out of five stars? Not rave reviews, but here's the thing: while the quiet was…well, quiet, there were unexpected perks. The gallery owner was a gem, the table fee was pocket change, and most importantly, it was a practice run for our rusty market muscles. We dusted off the cobwebs, remembered the joy of face-to-face interactions, and picked up some valuable lessons about timing and promotion

[2020]

Wizard World Oregon Convention Center Portland, Oregon December 07 [    ]
Our journey under the banner of Stargazer Goods reached its second stop, and unfortunately, it landed us on a rocky planet. This comic convention, the first under our new name and featuring an expanded product line, felt more like a lunar landscape than a bustling marketplace. Two car trips in our trusty Toyota Camry (bless its trunk space) later, we found ourselves amidst whispers an ominous new virus called COVID-19.

But the real buzzkill wasn't the pandemic paranoia; it was the deafening silence from the crowds. The three-day event, promised to be a geek utopia, was eerily sparse. We spent more time exchanging commiserations with fellow vendors than ringing up sales for the handful of attendees who ventured our way. The echoing consensus: "bust show" reigned supreme, fueled by the organizer's apparent advertising black hole. To add insult to injury, a competing event thrived in the same building, a cruel twist of scheduling fate.

Though we clawed back our investment and even scraped together a modest profit, the aftertaste was decidedly bitter. This wasn't our first rodeo with this particular organizer. In 2021, we signed up for their show, only to bail due to the looming COVID storm. The $500+ booth fee? We didn't see it again until years later, courtesy of a Wizard World acquisition and subsequent company overhaul. Let's just say "trust" wasn't a prevailing theme.

So, this event gets a lonely one-star rating. And even that goes not to the organizers, but to the fellow vendors who weathered the silence alongside us, forging camaraderie in the face of a comic-con wasteland. The next market awaits, and we'll waltz in with lessons learned and eyes wide open. Until then, remember, even under a lackluster moon, the stars still shine.


[2019]

Salem Etsy Team Handmade Market Oregon Fairgrounds Salem, Oregon December 07 [    ]
The Salem Holiday Market shimmered with tinsel and "Live Laugh Love" signs, a festive cacophony that felt far removed from our usual realm of ouija planchette necklaces and celestial jewelry. We, a bit belatedly, squeezed our little booth into the corner, an island of the macabre amidst the holiday cheer.

It was a lesson in vetting, a stark reminder that Salem's charm lies in farmhouse kitsch, not whimsically dark accessories. Our wares, usually embraced with intrigue, here elicited startled gasps and wide-eyed stares. Curious shoppers sidled closer, only to retreat, spooked by the glint of the planchette pendants. I could only laugh and smile.

But then, the magic of the unexpected. A gaggle of older women, their eyes twinkling with mischief, descended upon us. Reminiscing about teenage slumber parties and Ouija board confessions, they embraced the spooky spirit of our jewelry. Their laughter, a warm counterpoint to the festive bustle, was a delightful surprise.

Jordan's screen-printed designs, thankfully, found their audience, bridging the gap between our aesthetic and the holiday mood. We recouped our table fee and, more importantly, learned a valuable lesson. This wasn't our market. The mismatch of vibes, while amusing at times, was ultimately a jarring experience.

So, we rate this Salem sojourn a 2 out of 5 stars, not for lack of charm, but for a misalignment of energies. But, as the laughter of those old ladies echoed in my mind, I knew this wasn't a dead end. It was a detour, a nudge to refine our target audience, to seek markets where our darkness dances with the light, not clashes against it. The next market awaits, and this time, we'll be sure to waltz to its rhythm.


Oddities & Curiosities Expo Oregon Convention Center Portland, Oregon October 09 [    ]
Nerves tingled like fireflies in my stomach as we unloaded at the very first Portland Oddities & Curiosities Expo. Back then, we were "Renegade Made," a name soon to be shed amidst the whirlwind of this event. My partner, a wizard with ink and canvas, stood beside me, his hand-printed tote bags ready to enchant. Nestled in a corner, I worried about finding our crowd in this vast, quirky hall. The initial quiet echoed my anxieties – had we gambled and lost?

But fear, like a startled bat, quickly took flight. Soon, we were swamped. A curious tide of customers surged towards our booth, craning necks above the sea of heads to devour our oddities. Brief, breathless breaks were stolen amidst the joyful chaos. It was sensory overload, the best kind imaginable.

This wasn't just a market; it was a five-star symphony of the macabre. The organizers, helpful as chirping crickets, kept vendors in the loop, fostering a supportive atmosphere. Now, with the Expo's well-deserved fame, securing a spot feels like chasing moonbeams. But that first taste of magic? That's an ember we fan in our hearts, hoping one day to rejoin the wondrous dance of the strange and fabulous.

Market Obscura Lovecraft Bar Portland, Oregon May 18 [   ]
My Nissan Altima rumbled through the Portland rain, a nervous butterfly orchestra fluttering in my stomach. This was it: my first ever market, back when I cradled the dream of "Renegade Made" in my trembling hands. Jewelry boxes and display stands huddled in the trunk like anxious passengers, my mom beside me, the silent navigator in this adventure.

We arrived at a sight that left my jaw hanging lower than a chandelier in a haunted mansion. The market. Inside a dimly lit, velvet-draped bar adorned with, you guessed it, decorative coffins. Talk about a unique backdrop! My booth was…interesting. A repurposed restaurant booth, which meant less lugging furniture, but also an unexpected challenge for displaying my wares. Still, it sat proudly near the entrance, a portal to my little world of handcrafted treasures.

The day unfolded like a whirlwind of emotions. Nervous introductions turned into joyous banter with customers who admired my work, their eyes sparkling like gemstones under the dim, bohemian lighting (even with my trusty fairy lights in tow). Fellow artists, kindred spirits in this creative chaos, shared stories and tips, forging bonds that transcended trinkets and beads. It was exhilarating, terrifying, and undeniably magical.

Four out of five stars, I'd give it. The cramped space had its downsides, creating impromptu traffic jams amidst the browsing crowds. But the energy, the connections, the raw joy of seeing my creations adored, outweighed the little hiccups.

Sadly, Market Obscura is no more, a memory tucked in the dusty corners of my entrepreneurial journey. But its echoes still reverberate, a reminder of the day a nervous rookie took a leap, her heart brimming with Renegade spirit, and found a world ready to be adorned.


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