Three people are full of joy this October day. Bonnie. Lew. And Silvio.
Maybe even thirty more if you consider those Bundles left behind with Silvio when we headed out to a Vermont craft fair. There were always choices to be made. The totes would only allow for the chosen forty. Silvio cannot believe the empty van and is trying to convince Kitty. "No more craft fairs." Except for our Chester Fall Festival on the Green in September. Why?
As good as we were at carefully loading the van of all the paraphernalia six times a year (especially as the season progressed), for us seventies people, it began to hurt or not be too much fun carting the deacon's bench or trunk and putting up the canopy with its shrinking panels - even in the rain! The check off Fair List usually caught everything we needed. We didn't forget our picnic chest of good healthy treats. But we headed off to Woodstock on Sunday (up at 6 a.m. to do our church sexton's duties) without the sales book and moneybox. We giggled. Nonetheless, certain patterns began emerging last year and then into this one with Quechee. That's why we dropped a couple fairs. It is about engagement and connection with the visitor to your booth. I will elaborate, but first, please know whom I will miss.
Bella, Kai, Mike and Danny at the Balloon Fest. These booth neighbors for years always got engaged visiting and creating. Yes, they own Bundles and have had their birthday workshop here. Then there's Monica who was always waiting for us to pull into Bailey's Meadows in Woodstock to help us set up. She would engage the customer and feed me dolls that needed new blush, snaps or hair ribbons. Now she's all grown up, but still a fan who loves her three dolls. Here at home in Chester my young fans overwhelm me so much so that I changed my Facebook page to a childhood picture. On the Green I easily connect just like in our home. The results are sales and orders on the spot.
So here's the clincher. Connections. Our home is full of warmth and hospitality that make connections happen. A friendly cat, art on the walls, cookies or soup in the making, fresh flowers and wreaths (sign of hospitality) around, and central to it all is the doll maker's story on the dining room table of how her creations are made. The process is engaging and visitors stay for a half hour, some an hour, and they keep coming back for more dolls.
What will take the place of these craft fairs we have done for so many years? First, we will add the fall Vermont Crafts Council Open Studio. The May Memorial Weekend Open Studio has always offered visitors ease and comfort entering our home studio and gallery. They spend time, become engaged and thereby see the value in our product. Also, we will add a couple events like our tremendously successful Doll Reunion, which is going to keep us busy filling those special orders our team loves to create.
Finally, you might see a well timed ad in Yankee Magazine, having proven its worth over time. Too, we will continue distributing our beautiful brochure through several Vermont Welcome Centers, bringing the discriminating buyer right to our front door, flyer in hand wanting to see, touch and connect.
As we enjoyed our Sunday night steak dinner with a nice wine, there was no whining. We're a cool marketing team. Now we can be gardeners again. So, I share this in a blog knowing these stories bring the most visitors to our web site and eventually into our historic home and fun-filled galleries of dolls.