Monday, July 20, 2015

Park Street Art & Wine Faire

     Alameda is a charming little island nestled between Oakland and the San Francisco Bay, and it has plenty of charming little festivals. Around Mother's Day, Park Street hosts the Spring Festival, complete with live music, a variety of vendors, delicious food booths, activities for kids, and beverages for adults. In June, Webster Street on Alameda's west end hosts a festival honoring the historic Neptune Beach area (see my post on the festival here). In October, Park Street hosts one of the best classic car shows around (see my post on that one here). But in July, Park Street hosts one of my favorite Bay Area festivals, the Park Street Art & Wine Faire.
     I've already written a post on this wonderful festival with tips on how to make the most of your visit. You can read that here. In that post, I highlighted a couple of vendors I enjoyed visiting. However, this year, I'm happy to announce that my sister will have a booth at the fair. She started her own business, Handmade Hill, in January. As her business name suggests, she makes a variety of handmade items--hats, quilts, scarves, jewelry, etc.--and many of these items will be on sale at the faire. She'll also have a variety of local prints and paintings for the art lover. And she'll be selling sticker bundles, including authentic Playland tickets she has turned into stickers. I'll be helping her with the booth, so I'll be able to give those of you who have considered doing booths at festivals feedback on the experience in a later post.
     Besides my sister's booth, the fair will have over 300 vendors and will stretch from Encinal to Buena Vista. For Island natives and those nearby, there will be free bike parking so you can avoid the traffic. For all others, there's a very affordable parking garage around the corner from the Alameda Theater. When that fills up there is plenty of parking in the area, but you'll have a bit of a walk.
     Stay tuned for photos and feedback from this year's event, and learn more here!

And here's your promised FEEDBACK:
     My sister and I had a lot of fun as vendors at this event, but it was definitely a lot of work. Vendors are allowed to start setting up a little after 6 a.m. on the day of the event, and because this was my sister's first craft fair as a vendor, we got there at 6 on the dot. We were able to pull up to our spot, unload, and find free parking very close to the event. However, I did hear other vendors who arrived much later complain about the lack of vendor parking. Our booth space was located across from one of our favorite Alameda cafes, the Blue Danube (they have tea, coffee, Italian sodas, breakfast and lunch items, and more!), which proved very convenient for quiet rest and meal breaks, and we were within sight (but not smell) of the portable toilets.
     In terms of setup, it took us four hours to get everything put together, signed and ready to go. Granted, we had a couple fixtures to build and a lot of signs and tags to make. We also had some struggles with the E-Z Up canopy, as did a neighboring vendor with the same type. However, a nearby vendor, Julie, gave us a hand and some valuable advice for the best shows in the Bay Area in terms of foot traffic and profit.
     We were surprised to learn that many vendors simply leave the booths at night with no take down or wrap them in tarps. Julie recommended lowering our canopy on top of our fixtures, which we did, but we did take our merchandise with us. After manning the booth for eight hours, we were very much ready to call it a day at 6 p.m., when the faire was officially over each day, but there were a number of late shoppers that made it difficult to close up. This was especially annoying on the last day because it made it very difficult to get vehicles next to booths for loading.
     We were also surprised, and we heard many others vendors echoing our concerns, by the amount of foot traffic. My sister and I go to this event every year as shoppers, and it always seemed like a very busy festival. However, this year, the foot traffic seemed light, and a lot of people passing our line of booths walked quickly and didn't even seem interested in looking at the booths. While walking around the faire on Sunday at the busiest hours, I discovered that most foot traffic was concentrated in the middle of the faire in between the rides and the kids' area. People seemed reluctant to push through the crowd gathered around the Water Ballerz in order to see the last line of booths. Indeed, it was hard for me to push through to get back to our booth. However, most of the people who ventured into our booth purchased something.
     On the plus side, the event page for the event featured our booth on Facebook and retweeted a lot of our tweets, which I thought was sweet. The weather was lovely, with the perfect breeze. The music was wonderful (at one point, I could hear the Mario Brothers theme song drifting on the breeze from the stage), and our neighbors were great. I loved our location, even if it meant a decrease in foot traffic. And we did great for our first festival.
     Here's some advice if you want to be a vendor at this faire in the future:
     1) Pack snacks and water
     2) Make sure you have the inventory to cover your booth fee and bring in a profit
     3) Introduce yourself to your neighbors (they have a lot of wisdom!)
     4) Get there early for setup, and have parking scoped out early
     5) Prepare mentally for the long days (around 13 hours a day with setup and takedown)
     6) If coverage allows, take breaks to walk around and have a little fun
     7) Utilize social media
     8) Take advantage of your canopy by hanging items from the front so they are more visible to the casual passerby

A big shout out and thank you to Alameda and everyone who visited our booth! We hope to see you next year! I've provided a link on my right side bar to upcoming festivals other vendors recommended.

Hill's hat and sticker table
Hill's painting and rug fixture, made out of a pallet
Hill' quilt wall and base
Hill's flower scarf display
Hill's jewelry, print, and keychain table
Hill next to her shop banner

The apron Etsy shop owner isewmuchtime made for us. Thanks JoAnn!

Hill, feeling a little overwhelmed during setup. Is it coffee time yet?!

Alameda's Park Street Bridge. Love ya, Alameda!