The Great Box Sale Adventure #2: Day 2

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Blog entry by maplerock posted 05-26-2014 04:07 PM 1860 reads 0 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: The Great Box Sale Adventure... a Novellette Part One Part 2 of The Great Box Sale Adventure series Part 3: I Didn't want to Do it... »

Rested and refreshed the wife and I headed back to the Art and Antique sale with renewed vigor. One day of slow (actually nonexistent) sales wouldn’t deter us from putting a fine box in the hands of every American.

When we pulled our trusty Ford F-150 into the venue there were plenty of parking spaces. Hmmm…. we arrived at the same time as yesterday and had to squeeze into a spot then. Is this an omen that the crowds on Saturday were much larger than we’d find today?

The tent was as we had left it. We didn’t have any of those fancy side panels that real weekend warriors have, so we had covered our boxes with tarps. It looked a little pitiful and definitely vulnerable sitting there all exposed. But, to our relief no one had tried to sneak in to steal any of our boxes. Was that a bad sign? Even the thieves in this town don’t want our boxes?

Boxes uncovered, Here came the chief. Boxguy arrived. Alone this morning, his entourage would come later. Upon entering the tent, he uncovered his lovely mountain of cherry, walnut, and woods that only he can identify. We were ready for action. Then he had a great idea.

Since the people that had reserved a booth next to ours hadn’t shown up, why not slide one of our collections onto that spot, enabling us to put our wares right out in front of the crowds? He moved his table over and placed it parallel to the path of the crowd, just a foot or two off of the firing line. I did the same, and now all festival goers would pass by all of our boxes without coming into the tent! Fantastic idea. That’s why he’s the guru.

It was just a minute or so until the gates would open and the surge would begin. Boxguy was out in the aisle and I pulled him back, remembering how crowds press forward uncontrollably at rock concerts…... five, four three, two, one…. and nothing. No one. Nada. A few minutes later a guy wobbled by. He glanced over, but didn’t stop. Then a few more. Then Boxguy snagged one and began his box building tutorial. Maybe things were looking up. He didn’t sell to the guy, but at least things were starting to happen. It was just after 10AM, churches were still in session around southern Indiana. As soon as the responsible church-goers finished their services and had gone out for brunch I was sure we’d get some action.

Yep. They started coming by. And, they stopped! “Wonderful boxes,” “Fantastic,” “Love them!” Superlatives came in buy the dozens. No credit cards or wads of cash emerged. Boxguy kept on teaching though, undetered by the lack of sales. Four year old kids wandered by and I’d hear, “Want to learn how to make a box?” and Boxguy would have another interested pupil. Once a teacher…

Finally he broke the ice, in fact for the day I think he broke it twice. I’m not sure if he sold one box or two, but he may have sold two. A couple of his church friends came by and he worked his magic. He really doesn’t have to try too hard, because he has a loyal following of Boxguy Box collectors. There are lots of folks that buy his boxes all year long. The test was, how many strangers would buy our boxes?

Well, I didn’t sit down more than five minutes at a time all day. Never even got time to walk around. Still though, as much as everyone loved my boxes, they kept leaving me with compliments but no cash. One lady with absolutely no front teeth loved the boxes, and sang me a song. She said she’d written it and if I promised not to steal it, she’d perform it for me. I didn’t know if I could promise that or not, but she sang it anyway and it was unusual to say the least. “It’s all in the Jeans” probably won’t hit the charts.

At about two o’clock a vendor from nearby came over and crouched down by one of my boxes. “I like this one, she said,” And you have a Father’s Day discount? I told her yes! And a final day of the show discount and a fellow vendor discount. I had to get on the board. Who wants to be the only guy on the fishing trip to not catch a fish? Anyway, by the time all the discounts were applied I had to pay her $25 to take the box.

Just kidding about that, she paid and now it was tied… one to one to one. The pressure was off. I wasn’t going to be skunked. I could reimburse my woodworking fund for the shelving paints, price stickers, Goodwill blankets I bought to cut up and protect my babies in transport and more, still having enough money to eat a couple of steak dinners. All was well. The day ended without event. No more sales, no more notable visitors (except the toothless singer came back for one more verse) and the time slowly ticked to the 4 PM closing time.

So, it all ended well. No runaway victories, no pathetic losers. No one dissed our handiwork, and no one was injured. I suspect Boxguy’s wife spent most of his profits on purses, but we all left happy. With what our lovely brides go through they deserve that and more.

So that’s our first sale saga. Not War and Peace, but for a blog it’s pretty close. We had a good time, and found out a lot of things about not selling boxes. There will probably be a next time for Boxguy, he thrives on such situations, but I simply endure them. It was fun, and the fellowship was great. Boxguy and company were great partners. He suggested giving it a week or two and deciding about future endeavors. Good idea. I may jump back in. Right now though it seems like a lot of work without any guarantee of success.

I slept in today. I was tired and my feet hurt. Although when it is going on I wasn’t sure, after it was over I am glad we did it. Thanks to Boxguy for the idea and the companionship.

Now I know what they mean by fold up your tent and go home.

-- Jerry... making sawdust in the Knobs of Southern Indiana

12 comments so far

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

30609 posts in 3388 days

#1 posted 05-26-2014 04:22 PM

Good learning experience. Shows are very unpredictable. It takes patience and time to be successful at any business. Keep on the attack.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View DocSavage45's profile


9043 posts in 3892 days

#2 posted 05-26-2014 04:36 PM



Great writing. The “Boxguy” can’t help himself, that’s him. :) Glad you sold a piece. Did you hand out your cards and tell your stories? I’m sure each of your boxes has a tale of inspiration? I loved your descriptions. There is excitement, drama, and humor there. The key is you.

I don’t think you see it? Writing is from the inside out? Marc Laub, an extremely successful artisan/woodworker in MN/ST. Paul shared his thoughts about his success when I went to a design workshop at his studio. (learned more about the business as I knew the concepts of design) He is very successful. Survived our ‘great recession” while other competed folk disappeared.

What Marc shared is….”The mystique is you.” Customers who cannot build the beautiful things want to identify with them. “Boxguy” (Al) has his. I think you have yours.

Thanks for posting, you have more than one expressive gift. :)


-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View DeLayne Peck's profile

DeLayne Peck

669 posts in 3251 days

#3 posted 05-26-2014 04:46 PM

Good story! Used to sell family-made pewter jewelry at craft shows. Hard floors, feet felt like aching serving platters at the end of the day.

-- DJ Peck, Lincoln Nebraska. Lord, keep your arm around my shoulder and your hand over my mouth.

View leafherder's profile


1978 posts in 3002 days

#4 posted 05-26-2014 05:03 PM

Great story, glad you made a sale. I spent 10 years in retail, glad your first crazy browser was harmless and entertaining. It is good to know the experience did not break your spirit, or your sense of humor, or your faith in your work. Enjoy the rest of the weekend!

-- Leafherder

View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 4358 days

#5 posted 05-26-2014 05:41 PM

I am glad to hear that you broke the ice with a sale Jerry. Shows take time, patience and persistence, and no one can expect to achieve great success on their first attempt at any show (or anything else in life). I have learned a lot from each and every show (and continually learn from them) and it makes each next one as an exciting adventure that Carol and I look forward to.
I hope that you continue to do more shows… get a comfortable folding directors chair. I could not imagine standing on my feet all day long. Put together an artist Bio with your photo and fasten it on the tent. People love to read them. Get a small 5×7 rug from Lowes or Home Depot (about $39) to make it easy on the feets if you are set up on cement…it also gives an inviting look to the display.
Take some good photos of your work and hang them in the tent…for you as a professional photographer this is easy. I get 16×20” poster board prints made at Walgreens for less that $20 and I punch holes in the corners to hang them with hooks…they add a nice touch to any display. We use 8 of them…

There is a lot you can do make the display more enticing and then you need to polish your sales presentation.

I have seen artists and craftsmen at shows that just sit in their tent and rarely ever make eye contact or conversations with tent visitors…I wouldn’t buy from such a person. People buy from people they make a connection with because rarely will their work just sell itself by just sitting on the shelf display. You have a good “people” way with you and this can easily be turned into sales if you decide to continue doing shows.

Do it for the pleasure and enjoyment and sales will follow…

View johnstoneb's profile


3167 posts in 3222 days

#6 posted 05-26-2014 06:05 PM

One thing you might try. Show some of your boxes in use in your display, same thing with the pictures or posters if you decide to go that way. Show some original uses of the box. Your selling the benefit of the box not just the way the box looks. How can this box make life better for the customer.

-- Bruce, Boise, ID

View harveysoriginals's profile


108 posts in 2536 days

#7 posted 05-26-2014 07:51 PM

I found this to be a really great write up of your experience as it is so like mine. My wife and I set up a booth at a local farmer’s market to sell our wares last summer. My wife’s goods sold well, artisan breads, cookies, scarves, etc, and my wares sold slowly and sporadically. I don’t remember how many weekends it took me to sell my first item but it was humbling. Of course, I expected it somewhat as people going to farmer’s markets are there primarily for fruits and vegetable and rarely come prepared to purchase expensive cutting boards and bowls. Honestly, my wife, to her intense enjoyment, kept us in the black and is still getting orders from customers who are in love with her food! I will say though that every person who walked by our booth stopped and wanted to talk about wood working. Either they used to do it, or their fathers did it, whatever. I met a LOT of really great folks and thoroughly enjoyed the experience for the most part. Having to set up in the rain or problems like that were miserable of course, but still, everyone wants to talk and touch your products to make sure they are as smooth as they look! LOL! I am trying to pick better and more profitable venues this year and hope to get juried into a couple of art shows later in the summer. So, better luck to you next time and I hope you did enjoy it.

-- The most dangerous tool in my shop is the one I am currently using! Harvey

View Roger's profile


21053 posts in 3854 days

#8 posted 05-26-2014 09:32 PM

I’ll have to say ditto what Tom (Doc) said.

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed. [email protected]

View Boxguy's profile


2894 posts in 3317 days

#9 posted 05-27-2014 02:39 AM

Jerry, what a fun read. Thanks for including me as a character in your story. As my feet feel better, I am more positive about the adventure. Boy, that woman selling jewelry across from us really made money. You paid her $25 to buy that box, and I slipped her $50 to buy a box from you! ........Just kidding.

I knew you were happy to make the sale but putting both hands above your head, yelling “Yes, Yes, Yes” at the top of your lungs, and dancing a jig in circles seemed a bit obsessive…even for you. She bought a beautiful example of your work.

Next time we work together I expect you to sing a few bars of the “Jeans” song for me. I must have been regaling some four-year-old about boxes when she was serenading you.

I am thinking about Art in Speed Park.

-- Big Al in IN

View doubleDD's profile


10259 posts in 3093 days

#10 posted 05-27-2014 03:04 AM

Sounds like a great experience for you guys. As long as you gained some knowledge for the next one and had some fun, it was all worth it. You probably should of sang along with that woman, maybe she would of bought a box. LOL

-- Dave, Downers Grove, Il. -------- When you run out of ideas, start building your dreams.

View Steve Kreins's profile

Steve Kreins

358 posts in 2680 days

#11 posted 05-29-2014 09:27 PM

Well, I got so nervous reading part 1, I swore I wouldn’t read part 2. I even asked you to warn me! But no, you put it right out here in the open where I would be tempted ( and I even prayed today, keep me from temptation). Being the sinful man that I am I gave in and read part 2. Glad I did, it was almost like being there! You write gooder than most!

I have a problem though. A Mystery Box that showed up at my house with a very nice note of encouragement. You wouldn’t happen to know anything about that, would you? I already sent BoxGuy a message because you two make me a little suspicious. You can PM me if you have any information that might help with my investigation. Maybe the Jewelry Lady sent it to me as a thanks for the $100 I wired her to buy one of your boxes.
BTW, I want to be just like both you and BoxGuy when I grow up!

-- I thank God for everything, especially all of you!

View treborwoods's profile


4 posts in 3384 days

#12 posted 02-22-2015 09:48 PM

Enjoyed your story. Much like my experience over here in Orange County, IN. We’d been running the Buck A Book Booth at the HomeGrown Farmers Market in Orleans for a decade when I got the nerve to put my toys on display one Saturday. Made one sale. It didn’t really count because the buyer buys from anybody all the time. Eventually I sold enough over the season to pay our registration and space fees.

A good sale you might want to check out is the one at French Lick Resort Hotel around Thanksgiving time. They schedule it for the same weekend they turn on their big Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony. If interested I can dig out the info about it. It is not juried (should be) but has about 60-70 vendors many of whom have high quality stuff.

I’m over here next to the Hoosier National Forest just north of Marengo a bit. One thing about So. Indiana we have great locally grown hardwoods. We also have a bunch of Amish sawmills. Some have gone to bandsawn lumber which is more uniformly cut.

Like you I’m retired (2006) and enjoy making mostly toys with wheels and a not yet done set of Stickey style end tables.

Keeps us out of trouble.

Bob/Treebor Wooks

-- Trebor Woods

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