It was my favourite event of the year! There had been lots of preparation. There would be 140 stalls, all handmade crafts. It was the height of summer. A minimum of ten thousand people would pour through the gates, on this picturesque ground. This year I was more apprehensive than usual, for we’d been skint and when it was time to book my stall, I’d waited until the deadliest of deadlines and I’d missed my usual spot around the cathedral grounds and so after ten years around the cathedral I was allocated somewhere else! In all the time I’d done this amazing craft fair, I didn’t even know this other part existed, there would be a large pond behind us and a walkway from the town to the cathedral, in front of us but .... would anyone find us here? I very much doubt it! I’d booked two spaces, which was £120 a lot of money for us to fork out, I’d have to sell, a lot of my tie dye to at least cover my basic costs.
I loved doing my tie dye, love saying to people, “There is only one of each item,” I love the process, of buying mainly from my favourite shop ever; I just love linen, fine quality cotton and occasionally silk! I love choosing what item I’m going to use to tie up with string or elastic bands, I love choosing the colour I am going to dye with or colours...... I love adding the salt, I love putting them in the machine, the deep, deep colours that I can see through the glass of the machine. I love cutting the string, setting the buttons free, the unfolding, the .... my heart is beating SO much the, WOW!!! “That’s a £50 skirt!!!” I love hanging them on the line upstairs, I love it the next day when they are dry and it’s time to iron, some items only THEN burst into life!! Suddenly this ONE item is my main ‘star attraction.’ I love taking the photos of my individually hand tie dyed item, hanging it up on that door for a great background. I love folding it up neat, so it fits into the suitcase. Cases full of hope and expectations. But with all my preparations, remembering the gazebo, clothes rails, hangers, mirror, tables, chairs, food, hot and cold drinks, money with plenty of change for the ones who buys something for £1 remembering to book the taxi, for my little car can’t hold all these items, one thing still is out of my control this one thing can make or break the day, the weather! No tie dye is sold in the rain!! Well it had been hot leading up to Saturday, and it promised to be a scorcher!! My Husband Paul doesn’t do mornings - I do! I can still thrive on little sleep, he usually need his ten to twelve hours. But even he makes an effort for this event.
So the taxi was booked for 05.30am, the middle of the night for him, I couldn’t fault him, bless him, he had his three cups of strong, nasty looking coffee, black with a spot of milk, what difference that spot of milk did, I don’t know, he watched the Discovery channel as he had his cereal, I had a quick bath, made the flasks and remembered to take the drinks out the freezer, made the sausage, bacon and eggs sandwiches, as food there is SO expensive, it might be free to get in but once you’re in, you pay. One thing Paul always does, and it sorts of makes me smile. He always asks for a sandwich as the car drives off even if we are going away for the whole day! And with those sandwiches he always has a drink or two from his large stainless steel flask, and as it’s piping hot, always spills some of it on himself, so he says, “That’s f*cking hot” What does he expect! It’s just been made! Bless him!
For today’s huge event, I’d tie dyed myself a beautiful dress, Paul was wearing a t-shirt that he’d hand painted, for he has a degree in Fine Art. He’s bought his paintings that he’d done, all quirky, just like him of strange looking cats, snakes, eyes and shapes.... we both couldn’t find our sun glasses, but would we need them?
The usual challenge was to get set up in time.... we didn’t always succeed, but today we worked well as a team. I got the tables ready while he put the items on the rails, along the front of the gazebo. The very large black cloth that I’d bought ten years before to let the colours stand out still served me well to this today, It cost £18 those two black materials and it was money well spent. Others set up next to us and I asked them what they thought of this spot, they said, “We love it and chose to set up here,” I still wasn’t convinced even though many dog walkers, workers and lovers walked passed us.
I gave Paul £5 and told him to spend it wisely and not to buy me anything for eBay! He said he would and wouldn’t! I always pop to the loo first thing, then that was me sorted for the day.
Early on the sun was hot, we’d filled the space we’d been given as we were not around the cathedral grounds, we were given more space as there wasn’t a lot of us here at this lonely, isolated spot (gulp) I hoped and prayed my hard work wouldn’t be in vain. Even a little tree next to me had tie dyed dresses and t-shirts on. Then I had my first sale, it was from another Trader, no haggling here, she knew unique quality, craft when she saw it, and snapped it up.
The event opened at 10 o’clock and there was a steady group of people, of all ages, families, people on their own, the very young and old, people of various disabilities. It was always lovely to hear people say as they approached “Oooooo tie dye, I did that at school” or “I used to wear tie dye many years ago” or “I did tye dye but it never looked like this!” There were always familiar faces that came to us each year, but ... would they find us this year?
Find us they did! And more!!! After a slowish start, I was selling and selling, “Have you got this in a size 18?” I would sometimes be asked, and my reply would always be, “No there is only one of each item,” they would occasionally reply “I’ll have it anyway; I’ve been meaning to diet, this will be my incentive!” Or sometimes they would say about a size smaller than what they were, “Have you got this in a bigger size?” I’d say, “No, only one of each item,” their reply was often, “I’ll unpick it.....” My beautiful linen scarves were popular as it didn’t matter what size they were it fitted around the waist in the summer on the beach or around the neck in the winter. I even suggested they could hang them on the wall of their home or as a mini throw for their sofa.
Around 11am a woman came and chose my best items, she chose them with care, she seemed to know what she was looking for, and with a armful of my best things she asked me what was the best deal I could do for her, she was holding a lot of beautiful things in her arms, that was worth a lot of money to me, I didn’t want to lose the sale, for if I said I can’t do a deal yet, it’s too soon, would I be able to sell them later? I didn’t want to take them home, for we were in a lot of debt. So I offered her 50% of the price!!! She quickly took them, and off she went! I felt awful!!!! What had I done! I’d given them away, the lovely linen and fine cotton that I’d paid for from my favourite shop; I’d now made no profit on! I was beyond gutted! Within the hour she returned and said she felt bad and came clean and told me she had a shop here in the Town she introduced herself and said, she was going to give me more money and she did... I felt a bit better but she still bagged a bargain! She told me she was going to sell them in her shop as, “My customers will love them.” She gave me her phone number and told me to come to her shop today when it was convenient, and give my details to her assistant, I told her I would.
There was another person that stood out that day, she bought loads of items even a skirt that was a size 22” she been only a dot at a size 8 she said she would wrap it around herself and revamp it, she showed me how and it was a very, very nice skirt and it looked great as a size 22” and fantastic as a tiny skirt too with all that extra material! She told me after she’d bought all her items that she is the owner of a pub and invited me to come and sell my tie dye there as, “Lots of my customers would love your clothes,” she went on to say, “I will charge you nothing.” I was on cloud nine.
It was HOT that day and I decided to treat myself to an ice-cream. I asked Paul to get me one, he returned a short time later with some of it dripping all over his fingers, foolishly I took it off him and it did the same to me, but even worse it fell off onto the ground! Paul said, “That’s £5 wasted,” for he’d gotten me a large one, never mind, I’d got a few licks out of it, but the sun was just TOO hot. With the baby wipes I’d bought that was in the cooler bag I wiped my sticky fingers clean.
Stephen, the large tall gent came again this year to my stall, he’d said last year, that he would email me when he’d found the perfect linen shirt, that he liked that fitted him, for nothing on my stall ever did. So we swopped details again, and off he and his Wife, she was happy for she had bought a bargain.
Then there was Sara, the little girl who since she was a baby age one her parents came to my stall and bought something for her. I gave her a FAB deal as I have known her since she was a baby.
I told Paul at around 3pm that I was going for a little wonder round the other stalls; this wasn’t the norm for me, for I didn’t go to spend as we couldn’t afford it, but I did and it was packed around the Close, even too packed to see what people were selling! There were SO many people there and the sun beat down without mercy! I hadn’t realized it was this hot for we had trees by us; they were exposed and had nothing! It WAS horrible.
Paul told me to cancel the taxi as he would be able to still get everything in the car!?!? So I cancelled it.
When I got home, I added up all that I’d sold and it was £400.00 that’s how much debt we were in! I was as high as a kite. We all had what we wanted from the chippy. I gave the kids £10 each, and Paul £20.
We were very all happy. That was last year. I made sure I booked early for this year’s event and I actually asked for the same spot by the water.
Saturday, Part 2 to follow