My Art Shakes Hands with the Public

10 Apr

My mother called me Friday afternoon to tell me her homeowner’s association was holding a neighborhood garage sale and that Joey, my new step-daddy, wanted to take part. Since Annette and I hadn’t done one in some time, she wanted to know if I wanted in, and maybe I could bring some of my handmade items along.

Since I was going to call her later than day any way and ask her if she wanted to go do something, anything, to get me out of the house on Saturday, I said, “Hell, yeah,” but I didn’t think a garage sale was a good place to sell fully marked up jewelry items.  She pointed out that she’d seen a neighbor, several houses down, selling handmade floral arrangements at the last sale (and that they were really not very nice looking) and what did I have to lose.

And so I thought, what did I have to lose?

Say it with me:  NOTHING.

So I went through the last of my rings that I used to wear before I retired, marked them all for size, metal and price, gathered together all the books that I was planning on donating to the local library, and all the computer games I hadn’t looked at in years (and that wouldn’t play on my IOS any way) and popped them in the trunk.

Since all my handmade items are already inside plastic baggies that are inside plastic containers, it was no problem to tuck them in the front seat, along with some jewelry displays, but I was stumped about what to do about item descriptions and prices.  My brain is a large-holed sieve when it comes to that kind of information.

I looked through the Etsy apps and found one that let you download your items in stock, but in the end I only had a list of the item name with a photo and the cost, and that was 15 pages long after extensive editing.  So I popped my laptop into the car, too, since all my descriptions are first written in Word for uploading to Etsy.

What did I forget?

BUSINESS CARDS.

Fortunately, I had my card case with me in my purse, so I was able to put those out.  My case holds 20 cards.  Whew!

I sold the books for 25¢ each, 5 for $1; the computer games were $1 each, and the rings were $1 (only 2 or 3), $5 or $10 depending on silver content.

I sold about 80% of the books, 75% of the games, and all but 3 of the rings.

I didn’t sell a single piece of my handmade items, but each one of my cards left in the hands of very interested women.

One woman who live in Tuscawilla, our most affluent housing development on this side of Orlando, was the first to take a card because she and her friends hold “sales parties” where they invite several local businesses to bring their “presentation”.  She said they have more fun because there’s not just one type of product and more of her girlfriends come because there’s more chance of finding something of interest.  And she wants me to take part.  Very cool.

I received several invitations to take part in senior citizen organizations that do the same thing to make it easier for the elderly to shop for gifts and for themselves; the “stores” come to them so they don’t have to get out and about.

My biggest sale of the day was a lovely woman who bought 17 rings to give to her church’s Senior Auction; along with her own purchases, she forked over a whomping $107.00!

I wasn’t sure how I would like the “selling” part of the experience (since I find “marketing and sales” to be dismal and soul-sucking) and found out that I was very good at chatting up people and talking about my jewelry.  I didn’t find it any different from chatting up my team and the team on the other side of the negotiation table, or keeping things light and dissolving tension during negotiations.  I really am a people person and it was good to be out talking to new people.  (Yes, I am one of those people who starts up conversations with total strangers while waiting in a long line or on short trolley rides.  Yeah, I’m THAT girl.  Well, I guess I should say I’m THAT old woman, now.)

So, it’s a hell of a lot more fun to try to sell things to people face-to-face than it is on-line.  Not any more profitable, but a heck of a lot less work!

There was one really big negative, though.  Even with tons of sunscreen and being sure to keep in the shade, I look like a freshly boiled lobster and I feel nearly as bad as one, right before it stops squealing.

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