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.