My first vendor event. (After I wrote that I had to stop for a few minutes as the shock and awe of it caused brief paralysis.)
Seasons Bath and Body debuted “live” at the PX on Fort Campbell, Kentucky. We couldn’t have asked for a better venue. Not only were the soldiers and their families something to be proud of, the other people working around me were kind and supportive. Which was a great comfort to me, a person who would rather be in the kitchen making soap while someone else sells it!
This was not easy.
As I have said a thousand times, I love making soap. The end. But to make soap it must sell so that I can make more soap. Simple? No, not really. I had to create a space that would attract people to my spot, people who would love my soap as much as I do. I felt like I was playing pretend, putting on a show with business cards and signs and pretty displays. I hoped that people would stop by who, once they smelled the soap and heard about the good ingredients in it, would scoop up boxes of it and rave all over the building, bringing others running to my little corner of the PX.
I carefully laid out my soaps, checked the display from all angles and then considered crawling under the cloth until closing. I am not a star on any stage. I am the one who happily opens and closes the curtains. I still think the under the table thing would have been an excellent plan in hindsight. But no, I bravely put on my SEASONS apron, tying the bull’s-eye on (no mistaking who is in charge here!) and opened shop. And people came.
Very nice people came to see the soap but how does that work? My soap scents
attracted them and then it was my job to (pounce on them, wrestling their money from their wallets) have a conversation about my soap and ME. And why my soap is better than that commercial, cookie cutter stuff in stores. My homemade soap. And they would buy it.
The most interesting part? Most people told ME how good my soap will be for them. How they want something real, simple and good (wait, MY line!!) and are glad to buy it from me. They bought my soap! I had the opportunity to see what people liked the most and was surprised that what I thought was the nicest soap offered was not necessarily what people were looking for. I had a man buy out my oatmeal soap, knocking down my belief that my target audience was women. The young girl who bought soaps for the whole family when I thought she might be “just looking”. I learned a lot about who buys soap and why they buy it. It was good.
Yes, there were a few that looked and moved on and that was to be expected. There were one or two that looked slightly down on the soap as if it weren’t “real” like the ones laid up in rows on that bath and beauty shelf in the big store. But for the most part, people had fun, we had conversations, we connected and the good people of Fort Campbell bought some bath products.
Not as easy was the business side of vendor sales. Because I was selling soap, I had to be able to calculate amounts, taxes, make change, write receipts and use a Square reader.
The Square reader is a device that attaches to my phone to allow me to take credit card payments. Imagine that. And it didn’t work at first. Imagine THAT! I stood there smiling and swiping and swiping and my first customer ended up with a free bag of soap. Not his fault and he was so kind and patient. The issue? The cover on my phone was too thick to connect well with the reader. Some of you are nodding and some of you are saying, “Wait, WHAT?” Yes, learning curve. I didn’t just get to sit there and visit. I was supposed to know what I was doing.
Have you ever been in a position where you applied for a job and were asked what experience you had? If you were young or new to the field, how do you get experience until you get hired? I was SO there with selling soap in an open shop!
Here’s what I recommend if you haven’t taken the step. Do at least one face to face event. Take a friend and supporter! For me, that was Kathy Anderson of Good Living Essentials. She had a shop right next door and was not only reassuring, she kindly spent much of the day walking over and swiping my Square reader (yes, I have nightmares) every time it didn’t work. When there was down time (and there was), she would talk about what I should do next (never mentioned crawling under the cloth) in shows or suggest something that might keep me in touch with the people I met through the shop. She has done many of these events and was truly my life raft. Here’s where you can thank her for keeping me afloat (her items are beautiful!) goodlivingessentials.com.
So consider it. Because it’s good to get out there and find out what people love, need and are looking for in a product. Because I bet you have something they love and need!