WARNING: This post is long and rambly, and generally follows a train-of-thought pattern that can be difficult or dull to read. It is also opinionated. Read at your own risk.
Every year for the past six years I have attended the Annual Social Powwow at Willamette University, my Alma mater. I worked as a student volunteer my four years at WU, and returned after graduating as a vendor. This year was their tenth year! It was wonderful to see the event to expand this year. The team went from one session to two, and they were nice enough to plan and make a delicious dinner for us in between the sessions.
As a volunteer, my main powwow job was to be vendor relations (a job I shared with my wonderful friend Lexi). I got to know a number of the vendors and became on quite friendly terms. Despite how sore and sleepy I was the following day, it didn’t seem like that hard of work. I really enjoyed being vendor relations. Each person had their own idiosyncrasies, ways of doing, and little things to remember, like who had issue with whom, etc.
Returning as a vendor was interesting. I was lucky to have such vendor friends. I was welcomed into their warm circle and they helped teach me how to work in such a different environment. My mother in law was very helpful, too. She is really the one who led me into the vending world.
I must admit that I am no morning person. However, I was very willing to get up at my early-up-for-work time (6:15am) to make sure we were down there around 8:30/8:45. I did such a crazy thing for a delicious breakfast. When I went to WU, my friends and I would occasionally go to The Sassy Onion for a Saturday brunch treat. If you go to Salem, OR, you should go to this place. It is near the corner of 12th and State. (On the actual corner is another favorite: Adam’s Ribhouse. Go down State Street (away from downtown/the Capitol) three more doors, and you are there!)
So this year, I shared a booth with my Dad (who is the artist behind Chain Your Attitude), and my Mother-In-Law. A fair portion of the family (on my side) came along, too. in total, it was myself, three of my sisters, my dad, my Mother-In-Law, my husband, and myself. Now, before you state the obvious, I will. That is a lot of people. We were all sitting in a 40-ish square foot rectangle behind our L-shaped booth.
The three of us together barely filled the space. We had one 8ft table and one 4ft table, and very little stuff. I had four baskets, two basket necklaces, three chokers, two pairs of earrings, and one stocking. I guess I wasn’t as motivated to create as I’d hoped I would be.
I think my Dad, the chainmail artist, did the best. With custom orders and adjusting jewelry as requested, he was able to sell a good number of items. Many people loved his single-strand bracelets, and eyed the hackey-sacks he makes. You really should check out his shop on Etsy.
Setting up was a mess, to be honest. Spots are pre-assigned, and when vendors check in they are told where their spots are. Simple. The signs at the booth are numbered (ex. Booth #1, Firstname Lastname), and correlate with the numbers on the boundary tape on the floor. Well, a vendor swapped the signs and claimed it was their spot. Instead of making a ruckus after trying to point this out and request our spot back, we just went with the new spot.
Downsides? We had to hunt for an extension cord. We were assigned that spot because we had requested electricity. And, as an end booth, we would have been able to arrange the booth differently and had room for the four chairs we requested. (And there was some negative talk about us being spot theives and suchlike.)
Upsides? People weren’t blocking the doorway if they wanted to stop and look at our wares. And, it so happened we had a great time with the persons in the booth after ours. You see, we were set up next to one of my vendor friends. It was fun chatting with them.
I will say this, WU has always cared for it’s vendors. They help you bring stuff in, try to defuse conflicts, check up on you, and help you take your stuff back out again. This year, they fed us between seasons. Elk/bison/venison stew, green salad, potato salad, cornbread muffins, and a brownie or cookie. They even helped me get six to-go containers loaded for everyone at our booth (you don’t usually leave the booth unattended, so my sis and I went to get the food). I applaud you, WU powwow staff and Bon Appetit chefs. It was amazingly delicious and greatly appreciated.
I didn’t sell well, but that is okay. I had fun an that’s what counts. I was able to see a number of my University friends, vendor friends, and WU staff. Awkward as it was, I was was included in an honoring for Native graduates. I was even able to purchase a flute I have been eyeing for three years. The gentleman gave me a substantial discount, and my loved ones chipped in as an early birthday gift. Hopefully I can upload some pics in an edit to this post.
There you have it, a long rambley post about a great day. :). Brownie points if you read all this.