Fenton Street Market in downtown Silver Spring. It was my first time at an outdoor market and I did not really know what to expect. Here is what I learned:
1. The tent I used was an older EZ-up. I take issue with the EZ part. It took four people to set that thing up. Thanks to the ladies of Speak Vintage DC for helping a novice out!
2. The sun moves during the day; you don't. The total shade you start the day in could end up as partial shade. Be prepared and bring a drape to shield the worst of it. My neighbor Boxboy taught me that.
3. Bring more water than you think you could possibly drink. The organizers of the Fenton Street Market have cold water for the vendors throughout the day, but I had brought 32 oz. to start with. It was gone before noon. And it was only 85 degrees that day.
4. Your vending neighbors are probably very nice people. I actually learned this at my first venue two years ago, where the people across from me and on one side were quite generous with their hints to the first-timer. (The woman on the other side of me at that first venue, however, sat there glaring at potential customers and complaining about making no sales. I learned a little something from her, too.) This time, Paul/Boxboy and Jodee of Oh, You Like That? jewelry were my delightful neighbors.
5. Kids can be really sweet. One little girl walked up and asked, in what seemed a somewhat petulant tone, why I had all of those dolls on my table. When I explained that I had made them, her face changed and she said, "Wow! That's cool!" Another girl was so taken with one of the dolls that she reached into her pocket and offered me her quarter. That was the sweetest thing I saw all day. Most children asked if they could touch the dolls, or kept their hands behind their backs. Thank you, parents!
6. Some kids are a little harder to handle. Other parents, you know who you are: the ones with those busy little people who want to touch everything but who have not learned the difference between touching and mauling. I know you want to get them out of the house, and you don't want to crush their spirits, but please teach them to have some respect for the merchandise. I can imagine the wreckage they could inflict on the vendors with more fragile items.
7. This is about community. Sales are nice, but this is truly about making those connections. We artists may work alone, but who will know about your fantastic work if you don't share it? And you never know where those relationships will take you.
Shout-outs to Megan Moriarty and Jessica Blaszczak for organizing this market and making it what it is today; a welcoming, easy market that I am pleased to be a part of. I'll be back there on July 14 and 21.