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Presentation

One of the tricky things about vending is coming up with a lovely presentation.  This is a skill I am more or less comfortable with at indoor events.

Presentation
Layout at Cairo Shimmy Quake
Miss Fisher Con

Indoors change a lot, but with a defined space, it’s fairly easy to come up with an appealing layout.  More fun, though, is your space.  Outdoor events which utilize your own pavilion allows for some personalization in the presentation.

Vending 2017, to vend
Vending my first outdoor event.

Now, that first little out door set up was a 10×20 easy up with some canvas walls that were tied together with grommets.  The next outdoor event had TWO 10×20 easy ups placed side by side.  Couple more walls and we were good to go.  Except that the second easy up came out of the bag broken.  No joke…it was duck taped together.  So over the next couple of months I thought long and hard and decided I needed a Professional Pavilion.

So I start looking at all the standard places for standard pavilions.  And The Boyfriend says, and this is a direct quote, “Why do you want a pavilion that looks like all the rest?”

Enter Traders of Tamerlane.  After some initial sticker shock when Googling yurts, I found Traders of Tamerlane.  To be fair, the two linked sites are intended for semi to fully permanent residences or guest houses.  But Traders of Tamerlane provided my kind of yurt.  Fully mobile, easy to transport, and within the standard price range of pavilions.  The best part?  No internal poles taking up valuable floor space. BONUS!

So I placed my order and my yurt was received in July.  Due to various work schedules of mine and The Boyfriends, actually putting the yurt up wasn’t accomplished until today.

Voila! A Yurt!

Now, we read through the instructions many times.  Gabriel and Traders of Tamerlane was very nice, asking several times if we had been able to get the yurt set up and offering telephone assistance if needed.  Any difficulties we had were essentially the end result of overthinking the process.  Because seriously, once we did what the directions specified, it went right up.  And honestly, if I had had the foresight to ASK for the help, it probably would have gone even faster.

So now that my professional pavilion is here and I know I can assemble it, I get to figure out the internal layout.  But that’s next weekends project.

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What it’s like to vend

Vending 2017, to vend

I started my life in customer service.  First in a pizza parlor, next in a buffet, then a car parts store, finally at a hotel.  I am actually really good at customer service.  I genuinely like people, in small, one on one doses; the introverts dilemma.  So vending events was not a leap for me.

I started vending for Janie Midgley, running her booth at her Wiggles of the West Competition (a fantastic event, sorely missed).  And I quite enjoyed it, not just because she paid me with sick amounts of merchandise.  It let me play to my strengths, talking one on one with customers about what they were looking for.  So when I started Damask Raven, and before I even had stock it was suggested to me that a solid way to get my name out there was to vend, I immediately started planning what a vending space would look like.

So what is it like to vend?  I pick the events I am likely to attend early and start contacting vending coordinators.  If my application to vend is accepted, I locate a hotel that’s nearby, or ensure there is camping space if it’s a camp event (SCA, Ren Faire…).  I try and locate helping hands.  I have really good friends who have stepped up to help on weekend events (you know who you are) and wrangle the boyfriend in  to helping on the week long camping events (thanks baby).  Ideally, I have the hobomobile packed the night before.  On a really good day, I have also gassed the hobomobile the night before.  I leave as early as possible so that I can get checked in at either my hotel or my vending location early.

Once the vending space is open for set up, it becomes a mad dash to unload the hobomobile and move it before setting up the finished vending space.  This and tear down are the primary reason I need helping hands.  Truly, once set up is done one person can more or less run the space alone.  But that set up and tear down are a bitch when done solo.

Once set up done, it becomes a waiting game.  You wait for someone to approach you and engage them in conversation.  But there is an art to doing this, a way to impart knowledge without going for a hard sell.  Most people hate the hard sell, and if they feel you are pushing them to buy, they will leave.  So really, just talk to people.  The ability to engage complete strangers in random conversation is the most important part of vending.  You don’t even have to talk about what you are selling.  Just connect with someone.  You may sell something.  You may not.  But if you make a good connection, that person will remember you.  And maybe recommend you next time they know someone who is looking to buy.

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Vending 2017

Vending 2017, to vend

Where oh where will you find Damask Raven this year?  Word of mouth is hugely important for any business, but people can’t talk about you if they don’t know you exist.  So to that end, we are vending.  We are vending A LOT this year.  While you can always shop Damask Raven online, if you want to see what we sell in person, here’s where you can find us in 2017.

Hot Raqs, April 22-23, 2017 in Clovis, CA.  What is Hot Raqs?  Only the newest and hottest Bellydance competition!  Hosted by Andalee, winner of Project Bellydance and herself an extraordinary dancer, Andalee wants to spread the love of Raqs through competition and festival.  We will be vending both days and are happy to talk silk and dance while watching amazing dancers compete and perform for love of the dance.

Miss Fisher Con, May 4-7 in Las Vegas, NV.  If you haven’t seen Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries on Netflix, then you are missing the femme fatale of the 1920’s solving mysteries and murders in Melbourne, Australia.  Hosted by the Adventuresses Club of America, this promises to be a fun time of speakeasies and guest appearances.  Vending is Friday May 5 and Saturday May 6, but we’ll be at the welcome reception meet and greet on Thursday Night.

Cairo Shimmy Quake, June 2-4, 2017 in Glendale, CA.  Southern California has a long tradition of fantastic dance events and CSQ is no exception.  Vending is open Saturday and Sunday and you can browse our wares while enjoying amazing dancing from world class dancers.

West/AnTir War, July 4-9, 2017 in Gold Beach, OR.  West/AnTir War is a long standing event between two kingdoms within the SCA.  Large events are always fun and we enjoy camping and hanging out with our SCA friends and family.  If we haven’t met you yet we surely will and you are more than welcome to hang out at our booth and chat.  Just filled out the application today and am looking forward to this event.

Costume College, July 27-31, 2017 in Woodland Hills, CA.  Not vending, but will be teaching classes on Care and Feeding of Silk, What’s in a Weave, and History of Costume in Egyptian Oriental Dance.  Super excited to be attending this annual event dedicated to the arts of crafting in fabric and other textiles and to be teaching for the second year in a row.

Great Western War, October 4-8, 2017 in Taft, CA.  This will be our second year vending at this event and we are excited to be returning.  While the vending applications are not up yet, we will be sending ours in as soon as it’s available.  Another annual SCA event, this one will probably be a regular rotation for us in years to come.

So there you have it.  Our vending schedule for 2017.  If you think of any events we might be a fit for, please feel free to contact us.  Otherwise, come find us where we’re vending and introduce yourself.  We’d love to meet you!