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It's been one week and two days since the One of a Kind Show ended, and I am still recovering from the exuberance of it all. At 6pm on Sunday December 7th, when a voice over the PA system announced "The 2014 One of a Kind Christmas Show is now officially closed!!!", a giant cheer erupted across the entire exhibition hall. I had not been prepared for this, but immediately I was jumping and whooping like everyone else, with a huge smile on my face. It was over. We had done it.
(15 minutes later, while we were furiously stuffing cards into boxes and ripping down shelves, we would make our last sale -- a Storm Troopers card -- to a bewildered customer who was still trying to finish his Christmas shopping, and pleaded with us to sell him a card as the entire Show disintegrated before his eyes.)
To back track, here was our booth assembled in 10 seconds:
Here is the original Sketch-Up model I roughed out before the show, compared to the real thing. (Not too bad, right?)
Overall, I was pretty pleased with the way that our booth turned out. The only caveat was that during peak times on the weekends, the booth would be flooded with people; we were unable to fit more than five to six customers at any time, and there was frequently a wait at the cash. Although our customers were lovely and rarely complained, the inefficiency frustrated us. Perhaps a bigger space will be better next year!
Here are some random thoughts about my first ever OOAK experience, in no particular order:
1. Best show tip that I picked up from Laura of Cubit's: have on hand two pairs of shoes and a change of socks. Switch as needed. My feet were happy for the entire show.
2. It's worth the effort to make an attention-grabbing sign. I sat in my booth for 3.5 hours on the last day of set-up to draw my monogram "g" with chalkboard ink. During the show, many customers told me they were drawn in by the logo. Someone even asked if it was for sale. (Unfortunately, I wasn't there, or I'd have bargained.)
3. I have the best partner ever. When we ran out of prints and frames on the fifth day of the show (we had grossly underestimated their popularity), Christopher ran across the city to pick up new orders and supplies. When I became sleep-deprived from chronically waking up early to frame prints before the show every day, he took days off work so that he could manage the booth while I caught up on stock and sleep. When I threw a tantrum because I arrived home exhausted and everything was a mess, he quietly swept the floors and brought me dark chocolate. There's no one else I'd rather have by my side.
4. My favourite part about the show was meeting the people who bought my cards face-to-face, and hearing their stories. I've written about some of them already here and here. There are so many more. There's the adorable woman who's been obsessed with pinecones all her life, and bought two "Pinecones Warm Wishes" cards to frame for display in her Pinecone Room. There's the man who had just finished retrofitting his own Bianchi, a project that spanned three years, and bought the "Classic Bianchi Bicycle" print to commemorate the occasion. There's the girl who had knitted her step-father a hat with a llama on it, and bought the "Ugly Sweater Llama" card to complete the present. I collect every one of these stories like a pearl; someday I'll string them all into a book.
5. Doing a big show like the One of a Kind is a great way to see friends and acquaintances that I haven't seen in years and years. It's wonderfully reassuring to know that people don't really change much, even after a decade. It was also lovely to meet in person various artisans and kindred spirits that I stalk (or stalk me) on Instagram. No matter what they say, social media makes the world smaller and brings people together.
6. Thanks to my constant rotation of amazing booth helpers, I had some time to go around the show and spend money -- mostly at the Fishery and Sprouts Press. My booth neighbours were also some of the loveliest people at the show! 11 days of interacting with like-minded artists and people who truly appreciate your work was addictive, to say the least. I'm glad it's over, and I glad to know that I'll do it again next year.