Last Saturday, Mike (the Spanish Peacock) and I did something scary. Something we hadn’t done in over two years. Something we weren’t even sure we remembered how to do.
We set up the Spanish Peacock booth at a real-live in-person fiber show!
You read that correct. It had been more than two years – since Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival in September, 2019.
Starting in March of 2020 (when Homespun Yarn Party was our first casualty), we’ve operated out of a virtual booth in our basement. We bought new six-foot grid wall for a smaller, easier to set up booth at HSYP, and then never got to use it!
For all of 2020 and 2021, this tiny booth in a cramped corner of our basement is how we connected with our customers and friends despite COVID.
And the virtual booth had to come down, because we were ready to use those panels for real! Since Frederick FiberFest was a shorter show – just one day of seven hours – we opted to use the new shorter grid wall. Taking down the booth in the basement was sad, but necessary. (It’s also why you’re getting this as a blog post, rather than a podcast. I can’t go back to the awful sound quality of recording in my kitchen!)
For the record, we are apparently both out of booth-setting-up shape. Thanks, COVID.
Luckily we had all Friday night to work. We opted to mix a few eight foot panels into the walls, to provide a higher platform for the lights. While it solved the immediate problem, mixing grid wall panel heights presented its own challenges!
We returned to site ridiculously early Saturday morning to finish setting up. It was cold. VERY cold. We bundled up as best we could, but the cold continued to seep up through the concrete. (If you watched our latest Cedar Springs video, you will be happy to know I was better prepared this time!)
We opted to wear masks even though there were no specific requirements to do so. There was just no way to know who was or was not vaccinated, and who might be vaccinated but still immunocompromised. We even figured out last minute how to brand them so now we have show masks. It was cold enough we didn’t mind wearing them because they helped keep our faces warm! (Although Mike’s beard took a few days to recover!)
Since this was our first time selling at Frederick FiberFest, we can’t say how the crowds compared to previous years. The traffic seemed pretty steady earlier in the day, dropping off as the afternoon progressed. Some people opted to shop virtually on cell phones through friends and family, due to travel distance and/or health concerns. On the other hand, at least two shoppers came all the way from Illinois (!) to experience an in-person Spanish Peacock show!
One thing we realized from the show: COVID has killed cash. Typically we would have numerous cash sales during the day – often folks with an envelope containing their carefully planned festival budget. Saturday there were maybe two customers who paid in cash the entire day.
I made only one purchase during the show (and if you’re wondering, yes, I paid cash). I would love to say we were just too busy, but honestly I picked up most of what I needed at SVFF. However, I failed to bring fiber for spinning demos. Luckily, I discovered some lovely merino braids at the Companion Fiber booth and picked out a pretty pastel.
And yes, this is proof that I do know how to spin on a drop spindle! And no, my shoulder still hasn’t forgiven me!
We currently have no other in-person shows scheduled. But we’re definitely researching our options for 2022. Two years is just too long to wait to see everyone again!