Street Festival

You could say that I am minding the store. I am always on the lookout for new sports memorabilia and baseball cards to replace sold inventory. Searching and acquiring is an enjoyable game. I have many sources online but by now people know what I want and bring or send it to me. This makes having a variety of items much easier and I don’t have to abandon the store. But I do have a laptop in the back and most days I am purchasing something. How lucky I am to work to satisfy my passion. If you are like me and watching the game isn’t enough, come on in and we will chat.

But, surprisingly, I am now hunting for the best bounce house for kids. So I go online but in a different way than usual. I want to know their sizes and what themes are most popular. I also want to know rental prices so I will make a judicious choice. Why on earth a bounce house you ask? Here is the answer. We are having a street festival and I want to pay for a booth to attract customers. That is the point after all, not just amusement but business. A street fair is a promotional event and people come from far and wide so you better give them something to look at or do. I got my best memorabilia out for display and put it on the sidewalk where I stood to receive questions and provide info. You might think that a bounce house is cumbersome and unsuited for either a street fair or a memorabilia shop. You would be wrong. It is hard to obtain for a good price and sometimes the best ones are all taken. In point of fact, in the long run they attract parents and their kids and after sufficient time frolicking about, they come into the store. The person who has the most popular offering is the winner. The street festival was successfully and profits hit the bottom line. A bounce house is a great idea because kids collect baseball cards as they have done for generations past. I know the ones that are coveted and try to stock multiple examples at the time of the annual fair.

I want to be different each year but, frankly, the bounce house has to be there. People have come to expect it at one or another of the local stores. I take a survey a few months before the street festival to see what the store owners intend to do so there is no duplication. Most have come to realize that I have dibs on the bounce house. It doesn’t make sense for an adult restaurant, a hair salon, or a hardware store. It takes up a lot of parking space anyway so there are a few minor drawbacks. No matter. The bounce house is the highlight of the day. Come nightfall, it is deflated and trucked away.

Shop Promotion

I try to get publicity for the shop whenever I can, however it happens. You can put up flyers in the neighborhood, take out a newspaper ad, or even use the radio to announce any major changes in inventory. I have been lucky to get a local newspaper reporter to do a story on some of the more unusual items in the store. I wanted my life history and how I started getting into memorabilia. I told him everyone likes it depending upon the era and subject. He was fascinated and wrote a comprehensive piece that was flattering to my enterprise. I was happy with the response and it even increased store traffic. Given that result, I wanted to continue shop promotion. That’s how you keep business going.

I looked for new opportunities and got wind of an impending town craft/business fair. Apparently, they happened once a year and it was well attended and a major event for families and kids. The organizers were offering booths for businesses to show their wares. It is all about promotion. I thought it was a good idea and not prohibitively expensive. I could man the booth and bring with me a selection of interesting items for display and sale. I hoped that if I made it look inviting, traffic would come by and ask questions. I would keep a stack of flyers and businesses cards on the booth table for distribution.

I had to do a little advance planning. One idea I had was to tote my trusty beach umbrella with me to keep me protected from the sun. If you are out all day, you can get quite burned, even on a mild summer day. You can rent tents for your booth as well if you don’t have an umbrella, but I do so why spend the extra money. The umbrella was eye-catching anyway and far superior to a tarp made of plastic. I was right. People at the fair commented on how clever I was to avoid the damaging sun. I was a unique booth—one of a kind. Some people liked huddling under the umbrella with me to safeguard themselves from too much sun. After all, it was a large street fair that required a lot of walking to cover the ground. There were food vendors, artists making jewelry or paintings right on the spot, and there was the assortment of booths of which I was a member. I wanted to see everything myself and asked a friend to booth sit for an hour. Promotion can be fun. You meet all kinds of people and prospective customers in particular. I expected to see more than a few of them soon in the store. Lots of people took the flyers so they were the perfect companion piece to the booth’s goods. I made a note to myself to do it again, even better, next year. And you can bet that the striped multi-hued umbrella would be there once again to set the stage for a colorful promotion.

That’s Better

Every once in a while the store needs a facelift. In a few years, you can see the buildup of dust and dirt, sometimes grime. I am often too busy to deal with it or even hire someone to help. It is hard to clean a store when it contains so many small individual items. You can let things go only so long. Otherwise there is a feeling of chaos and disorder. I realized this when a woman came in one day with her young son in tow. What a mess, he softly exclaimed, not caring if it were rude to be so outspoken. I was taken aback. His mother hushed him right away. We all couldn’t help but look around to see if he was right. Yes, some re-organization was in order. The shelves were a bit hodge podge and the displays were less than eye catching in many cases. I was selling all right so it never occurred to me how people saw the place when they first entered. Not every store is a high end boutique. But a store needs to be clean and orderly and the maximum amount of merchandize readily available, which means highly visible. It was time to stop staring, accept the truth, and take some action. The mother apologized for her son’s comments but I was not offended. Children speak the truth. I could just imagine what other people might be thinking. I would be appalled if I knew.

I took a Sunday off work and unloaded the shelves and set the goods aside for what was going to be a major painting job. This was the effort that was needed the most. If the shelves were freshly painted, the store would automatically look renewed. Given the amount of shelves I had, I decided to use a paint sprayer, you know, the kind with a compressor. They are super handy and easy to use. I was only going to use one color. I could be more efficient and cover more territory, perhaps even finishing the work in one full day. Alas, it took a bit longer and I had to get to the store early Monday morning to make sure all the shelves had been tackled, that they were dry as a bone, and carefully and methodically restocked. Thank heaven for the air paint sprayer. It saved the day. I am glad that I owned one that was practically like new. If I had used a brush, I would have undoubtedly missed some areas and made a mess trying to get in tiny nooks and crannies. They are tough to get clean edges. A roller was out of the question but it was helpful in painting one dirty wall of the store. I used a bright color for that and it looked great against the soft creamy white of the shelves. I said to myself, that’s better. I couldn’t wait to put everything away and unlock the front door.