|NC Blueberry Festival Sign, Burgaw, NC (Photo credit: Lesley Looper)|
I love doing shows. They’re admittedly a lot of work, and I usually end up dealing with a lot of stress and sleepless nights for several days before, but there is just nothing like the energy of a bunch of artisans together displaying their unique wares for a hopefully adoring public. There’s the fun of meeting new people, talking to neighboring vendors and, since I’m a local, seeing familiar faces. Even more of a joy is serving repeat customers.
Yesterday, I worked the 10th annual North Carolina Blueberry Festival for the fourth year running. I met a bunch of great people. There are two people who came by my booth who stood out for me.
There was a middle-aged couple who were browsing my wares and she was telling me about the soaps she has gotten and liked. She commented, “There’s this soap I get from Duplin Winery. Queen Anne’s Revenge. My husband loves that soap!”
He chimed in, “Yeah! I use it to wash my hands, and I just sit there and [motions sniffing his hands deeply].”
I smiled and said, “Those are mine, and that’s one of my favorite scents.” I seldom run into what I call my “winery customers,” and it’s always exciting hearing the compliments on my soaps when they don’t realize they’re talking to the soap artisan herself.
Towards the end of the day, Peter and I were sitting and talking, watching the crowds die down and waiting for the end of the event while saying hi to festival guests going by. A young man with Down’s Syndrome came up to us. He said, “Hi. How are you?”
I said, “We’re doing well, thanks. How are you doing?”
“I’m doing good, thank you. My name is Christopher,” as he held his hand out to me to shake. I shook his hand and introduced myself, and Peter did the same. Then Christopher asked if I had any business cards.
I said, “Sure. How many do you need?” He only needed one. I handed it to him.
Christopher thanked me and explained that he collects business cards. He can go through them and remember the people they belong to and what they sell. He wished us a nice day and moved on, leaving me totally charmed.
It’s so tempting to measure a show by the numbers – how many units sold, dollar amount of sales, number of potential business contacts for wholesale or private label – but the real success of a show is in the interactions with my guests.