Friday, April 22, 2016

Recap of the First Down in the Delta-Vintage & Antiques Market-Part Two

Hello all...back to the recap of the event.  Part Two is about my experience as an event planner/promoter, what I learned and what changes I will make for the next market which will take place on October 21 & 22.  If you missed Part One, click here to read it.

I feel that it's very important to keep the market in my home county, although there are many venues that would be appropriate in neighboring Mobile County.  It's just a personal thing with me wanting to keep those tax dollars in the county that I call home, so with that said, I needed to find a venue in Baldwin County, Alabama.

Our delta is so unique and interesting, and educating folks about this vast treasure in my local area is also a goal with the business, hence the name Down in the Delta-A Vintage & Antiques Market.  I decided to hold it at a county park, Live Oak Landing, on the banks of the Mobile-Tensaw River where there is this wonderful new pavilion that one can rent. 

The pavilion is large and perfectly situated on the bank of the river providing a beautiful venue for the market.  It would provide some vendor spaces under cover and we could pop-up white tents along the side of the pavilion for outdoor vendors as well.  It is located less than a mile off of I-65, so there would be easy access and it should be easy to find.  The only items listed in the "negative" column were no public restrooms, and no way to keep people out after hours.  No problems there, as I would rent porta-potties and hire off-duty deputies for nighttime security...

While we have lots of non-profits doing events here in the North Baldwin County area, I think I'm the first for-profit business who has ever contacted the county about holding an event such as this at Live Oak Landing.  Some individuals didn't quite know what to do with me...I experienced a few bumps along the way with that part of things, but those were all quickly resolved with the help of my fabulous North Baldwin Chamber of Commerce Executive Director, Ashley Davis, who worked on my behalf with the commissioners.  (All businesses should join their local Chamber of Commerce!!) In the end, they were very supportive and took many opportunities to wish us well and tell people about the market.  

What could not be resolved was the difference in fees for county services for non-profits doing events and for-profit businesses.  I made my entire budget and business plan by the information that I was given, and I'll just say that my budget was busted before we even really got started.  For that reason, Live Oak Landing, as beautiful as it is, is not nearly as attractive as a venue as it was in the beginning. If I do choose to hold the market there again in the future, at least I know the real fees and what to expect, and they now do, too.

I did online ticket sales, but tickets were also available at the event.  For this market, the online ticket sales option was a waste of time.  Not very many advance tickets sold at all, and I can't say I blame folks for not wanting to spend their money on a mainly outdoor event near the Gulf Coast where rain has a way of popping up when least expected (which we all know now, it did in a huge way!)...even though the advance tickets would save people a few dollars each.  Almost everyone who came out purchased the tickets at the event...lesson learned-forget wasting the time setting up online ticket sales option.

Early Bird Tickets with Breakfast was another option that wasn't widely appreciated.  I thought it would be so sweet to offer tickets with a great breakfast that could be enjoyed after arriving at the market, just before getting in for that first look at the booths.  That Caramel Soaked French Toast, Bacon, Fresh Fruit and Orange Juice breakfast from The Sugar Kettle Cafe was delicious, and was served at a nice table set with yellow checked tablecloth, centerpiece, and real silverware. I think there were many who wished that they had ordered the breakfast once they saw it, and it did make the ladies who enjoyed the breakfast feel special.  They let me know that they did enjoy it very much, but from my perspective, it simply wasn't worth the trouble with just a handful of people partaking in that part of the event.  

Early Bird Tickets without Breakfast was another option that I offered.  I sold a few early bird tickets, but again, I'm not so sure it was worth it.  It left vendors waiting for shoppers to come in a couple of hours later, and I don't want my vendors wishing for shoppers....so lesson learned.  All shoppers will be admitted at the same time from now on, and all at the same price.

Ticket Price was another thing that caused some issues....tickets were $8. Our poor daughter who was selling tickets on Saturday was constantly asking for more one dollar bills, as everyone handed her a ten or twenty dollar bill to purchase their tickets.  I thought I had enough change, but I never even considered that nobody would use ones.  Next event, tickets will be $5.  It will make life easier for the person at the ticket booth, and it's a little more affordable.  

I partnered with Wild Native Delta Safaris who brought their fifty-passenger boat down to the event to take people out for delta tours.  We purchased a block of tickets and treated some family members, helpers and a friend or two to a tour.  I heard it was a lot of fun and very informative.  Our granddaughter, Leah, became part of the program when the operator suggested they put her on the front of the boat with her feet dangling in the water to see if they could call up some alligators...Leah informed him that he needed to pick someone else for that because she still had lots of ice cream flavors that she wanted to try and didn't want to die just then--that child.  The boat tour was a big success, with two tours sold out, as I understand it.  A lot of people came out just for the tour...no interest in the market, so it was disappointing to see a bus full of people get off the boat and leave...I guess not everyone in the world is interested in antiques and vintage goodies.  They don't know what they're missing!

Most of the event went as planned, with the biggest problem of all being the rain, well, which caused many other problems.  Basically, Friday was a bust.  Saturday was better, but still not with the attendance expected.  I've heard from many who had intended to come, but the rain on Friday messed with their entire weekend, so they had to cancel, and some already had Saturday plans.  Anyway, while I do understand that rain is just part of life on the Gulf Coast, I will be looking for venues from now on with a little more flexibility, so that I can have a rain date built in to the plan, or an indoor venue.

Those who did come out shopped.  To our shoppers, THANK YOU!  The comments from the shoppers were all positive, except for the few who couldn't find us or those who thought it was a very long drive from Mobile.  (I had to laugh at that, because apparently some people don't venture out very far from home.  It was about a 30-40 minute drive to anywhere in Mobile from the market venue.) They were blown away by the quality of vendors and the wares offered...and I saw lots of packages leaving.  They thought it was a beautiful market.....

...which brings me to my vendors.  THANK YOU all as well, for without you, none of it would have happened at all.  You all contributed to the beauty of the event and that part of it was exactly what I had envisioned-simply perfect.  I believe I have spoken to you all, either on the phone or in a text message, but I think every vendor (except one-there's always that one...) enjoyed the experience and they were all so gracious and understanding about the problems presented by the rain. I feel like I have a whole bunch of new friends, and I'm planning lunch dates with lots of you within the next few weeks.  I simply had the best vendors in the world, and I hope they will stay with me for the next market...and the next...

I don't want my announcement about the next market to get lost at the end of this post, so I will make that announcement on my next post at the first of next week.  

Wherever you are, I hope you have a fabulous weekend!  I'll see you next time.

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