The Whimsic Alley craft faire was this past weekend, held at the world famous Whimsic Alley shop on Wilshire Blvd here in Los Angeles. This store is amazing. It’s like walking into the world of Harry Potter. Unfortunately I didn’t get many great shots due to camera issues but I got one of the ceiling in the room we were vending in – modeled after the Great Hall at Hogwarts. Loved the hanging candles. The fireplace houses a secret door into the main shop – a clever nod to flue powder and travel in the Potter-verse.
When you walk into the store, it’s set up like a street with storefronts and it really looks like you’re heading down Diagon Alley. They used a set designer and a lot of forced perspective and Hollywood trickery to fool the eye. Totally clever and wonderful. There’s a Pensieve in the women’s bathroom, which is just around the corner from Platform 9 3/4. It was kind of neat and all the staff wore Hogwarts uniforms. I kept looking up and seeing all these Slytherins running around. Lots of Slytherins in Los Angeles!
The table looked clean and my display items were pretty nice, but I came up with about a million and one ways I want to tweak the display.
Issue #1: I didn’t have enough inventory and I didn’t have enough variety in the inventory I did have. I thought I did, but really, I could have used a lot more different pieces and stones, just to give customers more variety. I will be working really hard over the next two weeks or so on that score! As you can see, as things were sold, I couldn’t fill in the holes. I didn’t like how this looked. My goal is to have enough stock to fill each rack at least twice, so I can fill in, even in the busiest of shows. This is shifting how I approach production, but I think I’m working more efficiently in that regard and that’s not a bad thing.
Issue #2: Display was tricky and again, I didn’t do enough to create visual interest. Both sides of the table basically looked like the shot above, with a glass case in the middle. I should have leveled stuff up and done a bit more to make the table interesting. I had a clean display, but it wasn’t particularly eye catching. For me the line is really between what looks interesting without looking cluttered, and I’ve definitely got a rather spare aesthetic when it comes to this stuff. A few tweaks and decorative elements and I think I’ll be happier with it. I’m going to get some risers and some other coordinating fabric to drape around them. I also really need to figure out a differently configured glass case. It’s hard to see into mine, which is essentially a large rectangle. I want something angled. Captain Sexypants has offered to come to the rescue with his table saw and woodworking expertise on that one. My hero! Gotta love a man who is handy like that…
I love my earring racks, which I got from Wudls shop on Etsy. He does great work that is super reasonably priced. The racks were easy to put together and very sturdy, but they’re a bit plain when they’re all set out on the table. I think I’m going to stain them a few shades darker, to set off the lighter cream of my earring cards. The wandmaker at the art fair suggested this and I have to say, I agree with her assessment!
Issue #3: I will be taking friends to work with me in the future. It’s hard to mind a table alone – no one to watch the cashbox if you must pee and so you must rely on the kindness of your fellow crafters who are busy with their own tables, hard if multiple customers come up at once because people want to talk to you about the art or stones or techniques, and other folks are trying to check out… it’s helpful to have someone on hand to help with that.
Issue #4: I must get set up to take credit cards. I lost about 4 sales of more expensive or multiple items, because people simply don’t carry that much cash around and a lot of folks eschew the traditional checkbook in lieu of debit cards these days.
I’ll be back for their holiday art fair with a reworked table and way more merchandise! In the meantime, there are booked shows upcoming and yet more that I’ve applied for. While I did not do spectacularly well, I more than covered my table fees, and I learned so much, it was really worth it. I had a great time!