Sunday, December 4, 2011

Yes. Ages. I Know, I Know!

Yes, it's been ages. No, still no belts on Etsy or ArtFire.

That said, there's been progress elsewhere in Otter Necessities -land.

Yesterday was Boar's Head (SCA, north of Milwaukee). Friday morning I realized we haven't re-built the frame for the folding scaffolding, which is what we've been hanging belts on. And we need a (better) way to display belts.

Gridwall.  We've debated it before. Robert Ham has a warehouse south of Chicago, but that's a haul.  I googled. Well what do you know, a store fixture supplier in Des Plaines!  I called and ordered 4 panels, then since both Ron and I were home (see my personal blog for more natter about that), off we went.

When we got to Specialty Store Services, we looked around their showroom.  And added on to our order. We ended up with 8 gridwall panels (2' x 6'), 4 quarter-circle hanging bars, and two sizes of shelves - 3.5" deep with a front lip, and 6" deep.

In the afternoon I did the packing up of tools, etc. that I didn't get to do Thursday night because of the low-stress but horribly long ER trip Thursday night.

Got up at 4:45 am yesterday, and hauled up to West Bend. We'd rented a small U-Haul instead of taking the big trailer, which was nice. (Robin loaded it Friday night).

Xap went with us, and had many helpful suggestions on setup with gridwall. We had two 10'x10' spaces end to end, and two of the site's 8' tables. Those were in a line, pulled back from the font edge of our space, with our 4' tables making a very wide very shallow U on the ends, opening toward the front. At each end we had an L of gridwall, with two of the quarter-circle bars on each, where belts were hung. In the center of the two big tables was a T of gridwall, with the stick of the T between the two tables. The last piece of gridwall was grafted to one of Vees holding belts. We had shelving on the T and the extension to the one V. It worked out really well, I'll have to get copies of Xap's pictures.

We had about 24 linear feet of table space, plus space on the gridwall, so I put out everything: Alpaca fiber, knitting patterns, even the steampunk-ish merchandise. And we sold bits of everything. We did get some teasing about the wrist-rockets, but nobody was snarky. One set of wrist-rockets tried to grow feet, but Ron nicely chased them back. Hopefully it was a moment of extreme (pre/early-teen-) stoopid, and not a habit.

Xap also suggested curtains for the quarter-circle hanging bars, so you can see the belts better - less distraction from the tails hanging down behind. I'm going to make 4, all the same length - the ones for the top bars only need to go down a bit below the lower bars, not all the way to the floor. And if I make them all the same, we don't have to worry about grabbing the wrong length. In a happy coincidence, about a week ago I got 30 yards of unbleached pre-washed muslin.

Xap was also a very good salesperson. I don't even have my price list memorized any more, so all she had to learn was what the various things were (some of the names I use for things are not always obvious), which was mostly belts, as pouches are pretty well tagged.

The day started out horribly slow. Usually we sell a couple-few belts and maybe a pouch or two right off to people that forgot theirs, new people, etc.; and then people look but don't buy much until afternoon. Skipping that first little batch of sales made me really nervous. But it turned out to be a decent day. Not as good as some years, but that's when the economy was at a level I don't expect to see again any time soon (if at all).  We paid for the day (fees, gas, food), the gridwall, and 3 days rental on the U-Haul (being used today to help Xap move some appliances), plus some.

This morning I ordered 2000 cable ties (1K each of two lengths), and a cable tie gun. We'd gotten some of the official gridwall connectors, and a bag of a hundred cable ties for connecting gridwall. Ron quickly decided to stick to cable ties, and we also used some for hanging things up once the shelves were filled.

The 3.5" deep shelves worked better than the 6" deep.  We'll be getting more of those.

Once I'm done here I'll probably head out to Home Despot for a hundred or two S-hooks, and I'll raid the scrap bin for wide belt cutoffs to put nice ends on and holes in: thread a pouch or two on, and hang with S-hooks. Much like is done at the local SF conventions with gridwall.

Why yes, I am cheerfully stealing good ideas! I are S-M-R-T Smart!

I e-mailed the Capricon Dealer's Room coordinator yesterday, and there's still space at Cap.  But, Festival of Maidens (in Champaign) is the last weekend in January, is cheaper, and we'll probably do better there. I'll give the person in charge of merchants there a call once I'm done here, and if there's space we'll go to Maidens instead of Cap.

We're still pretty good on soft pouches, but we could use more hard pouches (did before yesterday). And we need to re-stock belts. But I can do a lot of pouches in almost two months, and re-stocking belts is only a few hours work over a couple evenings. But I'm getting too old to cut on the floor, I need the cutting table re-cleared (currently covered in beekeeping equipment). Fortunately, Robin can be bribed to do that by reminding him that if he does, he and Marmaduke can use it for miniature wargames (which is part of the reason it's already gridded with 6" squares).

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