Words cannot express the absolute high that I am riding after being a vendor at the #GeekCraftExpo Midwest craft show this past weekend at the Madison Masonic Center. Oh who am I kidding? Yes they can! I had a BLAST! This was our first.show.ever of any kind so the countdown to the actual event was filled with worry, planning, check-list creating, list checking, more worry, more planning, and lots of professional consulting about how to pull this off successfully like a professional. Did I mention worry and planning? Check.
After all of that, I am very pleased to say that we had a great weekend as a new company at a truly fun show. Our hand-made, 100% Wisconsin wood dice boxes were a huge hit as were our Game Master Emergency Kits. A couple of customers asked if I would sell them as a combo and being the all around good guy that I am, I had to oblige. As it turns out, more people were interested in buying the two products as a combo than as individual pieces, so keep an eye out on this site for a new product offering in the near future.
We sold so many of our boxes that our stock was fairly depleted–but that’s a good problem to have! It means that I have to go back to the workshop and make some more boxes to add to our inventory. We’ll also be looking at changing up some of the colors of felt offered as some were vastly more popular than others–and we’ll have a new felt option coming online as well that we’re very excited about.
I was a little bummed that our Made In Wisconsin Tee didn’t fly off of the racks. I realized after the first day had ended that the tee was getting lost on our black back drop (black t-shirt on a black backdrop is like a ninja in a shadow factory). Maybe this wasn’t the venue for that particular item. Lesson observed and learned.
But back to the show itself… It was really fantastic to be in the midst of so many cool, fun, creative people. This wasn’t your grandma’s craft show, this was a 21st Century Geek fest that could satisfy the shopping cravings of any person looking for quality craftsmanship and really unique gifts. The humor and genius that went into some of the items at the show was admirable. It was hard not to want to run around the show and drop money here and there–but I managed to restrain myself! There was a vendor featuring LED jewelry made of tiny circuit boards (Lumen Electronic Jewelry), a vendor selling some of the most awesome smelling candles I’ve ever sniffed (the Butterbeer one was freaking amazing!), a vendor representing one of the coolest Maker Spaces I’ve visited! (The Bodgery), and too many other vendors to try to list.
But the vendors I want to specifically call out and thank for their tremendous help and advice are the ones that were my immediate “neighbors” to the left (Niina from Niinapolitan) and to the right (Plushzilla) of our exhibitor space, and kitty-corner from us, Scott at EnVee Jewelry Design. They were all so friendly, offered such great tips for us as new vendors, and they were incredibly patient and accommodating despite my barrage of questions.
I was especially happy to see a familiar face there: EnVee Jewelry Design. I had seen Scott selling his wares at a few local festivals over the summer last year and I wound up buying a beautifully crafted chain mail bracelet (seriously–you need to have a look at what I think is some of the most kick-ass chain mail jewelry I’ve seen. It’s here: EnVee Jewelry Design.)
The folks at the Madison Masonic Center were totally rockin’ the hospitality as were the GeekCraft Expo Gang. All were awesome hosts and all shared lots of warm encouragement and wisdom.
I’d be totally remiss if I didn’t thank the woman who so enthusiastically encouraged me to do this: Sajia Kopp of Japan Hero Collectibles. She sat down with me over lunch and spent several hours helping me plan and create checklists of what to bring, what not to bring, and how to generally do this thing the right way. It all paid off and I am extremely thankful for that.
The most important person that I owe a huge thanks to for all of her tremendous support and patience while I try to grow this business is my wife, Jennifer. I couldn’t do it (literally) without her support and that’s something that I need to keep acknowledging and being appreciative of.
Lastly, the thing I was most proud of this weekend wasn’t pulling this off like a boss and it wasn’t that we had a good showing and take for the business. It was a person: My son. I watched him jump in and help run the space like he owned it. Whether it was talking about the features and benefits of the products, or bagging merchandise, he was there, pronto. The coolest thing he did though, totally unprompted by me, was to create a sales tracking spreadsheet to accurately track everything that was sold, including what color options went out of the door. He even did a pie chart! Here sits this 13-year-old kid who spends his days devouring manga, anime, and YouTube videos like they’re the only thing that sustains him–doing profit & loss tracking without ever being taught how to do it. I see great things in his future. I cannot say just how proud it made me feel to watch him and how much my heart swelled over how much he looked like he was made to do this. It really did make me weepy with tears of joy.
So it’s onward into spring, then through the summer, and in the fall we’ll be selling our wares at Game Hole Con, four days of gaming at Madison’s Alliant Energy Center. This will be a much larger, rowdier crowd–and twice as long for us to be on parade as vendors.
Yeah, I think we can handle it.