Well, after about 3 months of intense planning and preparation, my first ICE experience is finally over. And I’m happy to say that it totally paid off. Every dollar I spent, every sign I labored over, every cursed trip to Walmart for supplies… it was all totally worth it in the end.
When we first got there in the morning (thanks Michelle, Nico, and Bailey!), at about 8:30, there weren’t too many others there setting up, so it was a little tough to figure out where exactly our space was. Finally I realized that the little orange flags on the ground had numbers on them, and that those numbers marked the corners of where our booths were supposed to go, and subsequently matched our assigned vendor numbers. Oh. Duh.
It too about 10 trips back and forth to the van to get all the stuff unloaded and onto our little 10′x10′ plot, but mercifully we were able to unload it really close to our spot before getting shooed away by the police, who explained that this wasn’t the official unloading area. Oh well!
I was surprised how quickly we set up – although I brought my ENTIRE inventory (over 1,000 shirts and 150 belts) plus three 7-foot shelving units, 2 square tables, the tent, and all sorts of other display equipment, we had it completely set up in about 25 minutes. The lady who was vending next to me seemed surprised that I got it all up so quick. It was then that I realized why the show didn’t start till 11… Nice.
So I sat around, checked out some of the other booths, chatted with the other vendors, and even networked with some folks in the screenprinting business. Everyone was super supportive of LF and seemed to really like my stuff. Several of these vendors even ran over throughout the day to check up on me and make purchases! This was especially cool, though I feel like a bit of a jerk now because I didn’t buy from any of the other booths since I was so focused on my own thing!
When the event finally started at 11, it was surprisingly slow. I guess I’d kind of pictured this huge horde of people throwing cash at the vendors and clambering over the merchandise. Instead, most of the folks seemed to have stumbled on the event accidentally on their Saturday morning city stroll. Ugh. Not good!
Another factor that had me worried was the temperature. It was in the 90′s before noon and the humidity was almost unbearable. I kept wondering to myself why they hadn’t scheduled the event in May, when it would’ve been far more appealing to folks that didn’t want to get a heat stroke. Still, I chatted with the few folks that wandered my way and did my best to stay positive.
My first sale came in around 11:30, and it was a great one to start the day. The guy (should’ve gotten his name!) was super enthusiastic about my stuff and promised to check out the online shop as soon as he got in. He got a kick out of the fact that I was based right here in Georgia, too.
And I guess that’s when things started turning around. Suddenly the traffic started picking up a lot more, and all kinds of people were stopping to look through my belts and tees and asking me which design they should get since they couldn’t choose! And even when they didn’t buy anything, it was awesome to see them smiling as their eyes wandered around the display panels to check out the tees. That was a good feeling, and that was when I knew that it had all been worthwhile.
I think 3:00 was the absolute peak of the day. At times I had a little line forming from the booth, which was just too cool. I had a little jar on the table, too, where people could throw in their email addresses for a chance to win some free stuff. By the end of the day it was packed with entries! I also went through loads of stickers, buttons, and all my postcards. I sold a nice chunk of inventory, too.
At the end of the day, a lot of other vendors had wonderful compliments for me, saying how impressed they were with it being my first show, and how professional and amiable I’d been with customers. It was cool to feel like I’d gotten their respect in that way.
So all in all, it was a fantastic experience. Despite the heat and the absurd traffic that unceasingly plagues the city, people showed up faithfully and supported Linty Fresh. And if you’re one of those people, thank you!