Tuesday, October 7, 2008

And a Good Time Was Had By All

The Greenway Celebration was our initiation into a new world, a world chock full of interested customers who wanted to know a little bit about Massachusetts' rural heritage, small town living, apples, wool, sheep and chickens. 30,000+ interested customers as it turned out.

The build-up and market day were some of the busiest of my life, and also the most productive. I baked and peeled apples and organized yarns and apple crisps and whatnot. Dan developed a lovely banner, brochures, business cards and labels, Micah made some beautiful signs. We were all up late into the night readying for the big day. Saturday morning found us up at four packing the minivan, waking Micah (who chose to come along for the day) and driving the two and a half hours into the heart of the big, B-i-i-i-g city to sell our wares.

Now, at past events, we barely had our "stuff" together; we set out a card table and hung around chatting. It was lots of fun, but part of the fun was our sheer, amateur-ness. We considered these small events a chance to meet other vendors and learn about the whole process of marketing.

This Greenway Celebration, however, was the BIG TIME. And we were (more) prepared. We had a brand new canopy and our professional looking banners, and we even brought a cash register... well, it was our kids' bright red toy cash register.... But you get the idea. A friend of mine made cute soaps to help fill our table and we also offered, baked goods-- Apple flax blueberry bread and apple flax walnut bread, apple oatmeal bread and apple crisp, and Dan's homemade peach, plum and blueberry jams. We also offered plain old apples to the hungry folks who came by and fresh cider. None of this has to do with our primary business, but we were advised to have food to offer.

We also offered yarn and roving, and I brought a few of my hand-crafted items, hats and scarves, to demonstrate what a person might DO with all this wonderful stuff.

We figured there'd be lots of other small family farms at the farmer's market, but mostly there were small family businesses: a cookie company, a bread company, a jam company, a coffee micro-roaster, etc etc. Businesses with inventory and a few employees and such. So once again, prepared as we were, were were, achem... out of our league once again. (It may say something about the state of Massachusetts' rural heritage that the Greenway Farmer's Market had so few small farms.) The Rodale Institute, the event's sponser had a really neat passport system to help get customers and farmers talking and also gave us free canvas bags that we could offer to customers with a $10 purchase. These were great ideas and the event organizers have our thanks and gratitude.

Anyway, being out of our league turned out to be an advantage of sorts because people were really interested in what it was like to work a genuine small family farm (They were surprised to learn that we had to work full-time jobs to support our rural lifestyle, for example.) Micah showed pictures from our farming album and answered questions. (One couple asked her if she liked having chickens and she said "Sort of. Because when you have chickens you can never go out barefoot"!) Luminaries came by; Thomas Menino, Mayor of Boston, and Caroline Kennedy sampled the apple oatmeal bread. It was really fun to "talk sheep" with so many new people. (I love to "talk sheep" any time, any place!). Micah managed to take a few pictures for us and she was quite the soap-seller, explaining exactly why that the goldfish soap was great for kids. (From the moment our feet hit the pavement, Dan and I were generally too busy to BREATHE so it was great to have our own photographer along!)

I ended up selling one of my scarves and a felted hat, although I hadn't planned on it. (I have a long way to go before I am skilled enough to set up shop) because the customers insisted on buying the items, flaws and all. I wasn't prepared for the lump in my throat as I watched by cool, reversable lizard/goldfish hat walk away on someone else's head. But I was also happy it was going to a new home where it was obviously loved and appreciated. Here it is:

So it was a beautiful, busy, joyous day. We sold out of breads and crisps and also sold a lot of yarn and roving. We met a lot of wonderful people and gave out every last brochure and business card, arrived home exhausted at 11 PM, slogged out to take care of the animals in the dark, put our zonked daughter to bed and collapsed on the couch.

And for some crazy reason, we hope to do more of this sort of thing in the future!

1 comment:

Christy said...

It does sound like a great day! You guys deserve lots of success so I'm glad the day was a success.