Needless to say, sleep was sparatic on Friday night as I dreamt of what might be, good and bad. I knew there was nothing more that we could do but being me, I was sure I could tweak one more thing, check the market box for the sixteenth million time or just sit and keep vigil over our precious stock like a mother hen.
Saturday morning arrived, dark and cold. Nervously, I got myself ready. Messages from fellow first time stall holders arrived, venting our early morning nerves and pumping each other full of encouragement. I was hoping against hope the my weet bix would stay in my stomach. There was no time for a calming cup of tea. Adrenalin kicked as I drove to collect, Ree, my partner in crime. 8 o'clock on a Saturday morning in the middle of winter, is a lonely time of the day, not many people about. As I drove past familiar houses I could imagine kids watching cartoons in pj's, party goes arriving home to the calling comfort of their warm beds and the early morning cups of tea and coffee being had over newspapers. Part of me longer to be one of them but the other part of me was far too excited and anxious to greet the public and let G&K loose on the world.
Hugs and squeals of nerves and excitement filled the venue as we all began to roll up, being greeted by the ever comforting face of our seasoned market leader, Dee. Trestles were set up, chairs tucked underneath and our positions revealed. We were comforted to find familiar faces of Make Craft Your Business Alumni, around us. To our left was Miss Lizzie and her beautiful Made By Timapno Homewears, directly opposite, Kate of Emalaide and her amazing softies and crocheted blankies and hats, as well as dress. Slowly but surely our stalls came to life. We desperately wanted to oooh and ahhh over each others creations but there was no time. As we hung bunting and poured hair clips into dished, the Helper of all Helpers, the awesome Samantha arrived, full of energy and good ideas.
Before we knew it, it was show time! Ree and I huddled together with Sam as we awaited the first customers. Ree nervously pointed out the people coming through the door and let out one of her trade mark squeaks. I felt like a swan, calm on the outside and paddling for dear life on the inside. Once the first few customer floated by and smiled, some stopping for a look, I felt much better. All those years or retail and customer service training came flooding back and I was in a familiar head space. People commented on fabric choices, how pretty things looked and then there was the first sale. We quietly congratulated ourselves and got back to it.
Throughout the day, family and friends came to wish us luck and even make a purchase. Having familiar faces in the crowd was so comforting. I was especially happy to see two familiar faces in particular, my two boys. My poor husband has been hearing about this market and stock for months and has nodded and smiled and commented like a champion. And the real life Gus, I'm sure has wondered where his Mum has been at times. But seeing him with his "Gummy" in our little shop, making a rock start appearance, made my day.
Before we knew it, it was 2 o'clock and time to pack up. It was sad to dismantle our little shop but it was designed that way. A debriefing late lunch was well deserved and essential. We were all of the same opinions and feelings, with a few extra insights from our fellow diners.
All in all it was a great day. Much was learnt and gained from our first time around the block. As teachers we were well organised, as visual creatures our stall looked just as we had planned and although we didn't sell out (a long shot I know) we sold more than we expected and gained a few customer orders as well. The public (those whom we didn't know and those whom we did) liked a product with a few of the customers coming back more than once to look. Even if they didn't buy something it was very interesting to observe what it was that they were looking at, touching and asking about. Even a few customers gave some suggestions about products and add ons that we could investigate.
None of this could have even been possible without lots of help, especially on the day. Sam is an absolute super star. Her retail knowledge, customer service and merchandising skills were priceless, not to mention her calming and reassuring presence. We also need to thank our master builders, my brother Mick and my Dad, our babysitters Nannie Frances, my sisters in law, Erin and Sarah and brother in law Brighty, the ever patient and supportive Husband, Andrew, and our friends who are an endless source of encouragement and support.
There is one last person to thank, Ree. Many people cannot imagine working with their mothers. Others have told us of the jealously when they see how well we get along and work together. I'm not sure that I could have started a business with another person. I am lucky that we know each other well enough to know how the other works, when the other needs time out or when they need that extra gentle push.
So there you have it. Our first time around the block. May there be many more.
Lots of Love