It's official. By November 1st, I will actually be one hour behind the rest of the world.
How can that be? You may or may not know this but the State of Arizona doesn't do Daylight Savings Time. So when I go to Houston next week, I will lose two hours crossing into New Mexico and Texas. But when I come home, I'll only get one of those hours back! I just know the gods are laughing at me, it's payback for all the time I've essentially wasted over the years doing whatever.
Yes, I am going to Market.
No, I am not ready. For the first time since I've been going to Market, I will go without any new patterns. It worried me at first but then I decided that I'm not going to worry about it. That's life, right?
I did too much traveling this past year and since getting back, I've been working to finish a project for next year. To cap it off, I've been sick the past two weeks with what I can only call the "creeping crud". It's not the flu ~ my Mom made me get a flu shot this year and let it suffice to say that it didn't help the way I felt at the time. I think it's just being tired and knowing that I wasn't going to be ready for Market and knowing I was late with my project and and and... a vicious circle, to be sure. But again, I'm not going to worry about it anymore. I'm going to Houston and I'm going to have a good time.
I didn't have a clue what to write about and then I got a very nice e-mail from Kathleen. When I wrote her back, I lamented my lack of ideas for what to write about ~ fuzzy brain and all that. She made a few suggestions that I really liked, all Market related. What's it like to actually go to Market as a vendor? What are the days like? What is the schedule like? And so on.
You start with this.
Actually, there is a lot you have to do before you get to this... actually walking to a space on the convention center floor that will be your home-away-from-home for three days. If you're on the "mailing list" for Quilt Market vendors, the ball starts rolling about six to seven months before Market when you receive your contract. You have to fill it out and send it in by ??? That means that there is a deadline, a 2nd deadline, a whatever deadline and a FINAL deadline. But even that is flexible. It's very confusing but basically it all comes down to this, they want your money as soon as possible and they are starting to penalize you for sending in your contract and payment past the deadline. Does that sound a little *itchy? Oops. Not.
You send in your payment and then about two months before Market, you get a Service Contract which is all the information you need for ordering additional pipe ~ required if you want to hang your own drapes, electricity, lights, telephones, furniture, equipment, whatever. There are forms to fill out, more deadlines to be met and more money to send. (That is kind of a common theme, by the way.) That's also when you find out where your booth is located, who your neighbors are and how close you are to the loading dock, bathrooms and food court. (All very important details.) I think you already know, it's not a surprise for me, I'm always in the back.
In the weeks leading up to Market, you've got stuff to pack and stuff to ship. Some folks take product, some don't take any. I've done both and I don't know that there is any advantage to either, especially now that there are strictly enforced weight limits for luggage, and fees for each bag you check. Most vendors will ship orders placed at Market for no charge so there is a little less incentive to take lots of product home from Market for most shopowners. After all, they've also been to Sample Spree so their bags are probably already overweight. And you wouldn't believe the shipping costs for the FedEx places in the convention centers. Oy vey.
When you do take patterns/product, everybody is a little different about what they take. Some have mostly new stuff but also bring a fair amount of their older patterns. Others bring only what is new. It somewhat depends on whether they go to both Fall and Spring Market, or if they go to just one, and if their patterns are carried by the bigger distributors. I don't think there is any one-size-fits-all answer, and what works for one person doesn't always work for someone else.
Market opens at 9:30 am on the first day ~ Saturday for Fall Market and Friday for Spring Market ~ and is open until 6:00 pm. It then goes from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm on Day 2, and from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm on Day 3.
I like getting to the convention center by 8:00 am because it's quiet. It is also usually the only time I get to wander around a bit and get by to see the booths or people I really want to see, or even just see what else is there. We used to be able to get in much earlier but the powers-that-be had to start enforcing some rules because of security issues and "other reasons". So the earliest we can get in is 8:00 am. Many of the fabric reps will have early appointments so the place isn't nearly as quiet or deserted as you might imagine. Getting in early also lets you get organized and sort through the mountain of papers that are left in your booth by other companies, the folks from Quilts Inc., etc.
On Day 1, the place starts quieting down by 4:30 or 5:00 pm because (1) folks are tired, and (2) many of them are on their way to the Moda party. That can go on until the wee hours. Night No. 2 usually sees other parties, get-togethers and lots of folks just heading out for a nice dinner with a couple of friends or a dozen friends. By the second night, everybody is exhausted and anticipating the last day, mostly the takedown/breakdown part of Market. What you do on Night No. 3 depends on whether you're in a hotel, driving home, what time you finish with takedown, how tired you are, and so on. For the most part, it's very quiet and low-key. Even if you have had the most amazingly successful Market in the history of Quilt Market, the reality is that most everyone is too tired for anything else.
So here are Kathleen's specific questions:
1. Has something happened in the past at Market that you would like to see happen again?
Surviving. Does that count? Going, meeting new friends and re-connecting with old friends, that's something I hope happens every time I go to Market. And so far, it has.
2. Has something happened that you hope never happens again?
How much time do you have? Let's see... there was the time I finished my Schoolhouse about 10 minutes early and didn't realize it and "we" got in trouble. Okay, it wasn't "we". I was at the front of the room answering some questions and packing up while my almost former friend and helper Ginger got to hear about it. I felt kind of bad about it and I did go over to the powers-that-be who run Schoolhouse and have my hand officially slapped for not paying better attention to the time. And the rules.
And there was the Market where by about 1:00 pm on the first day, my brain was fried. Toast. Burnt. Done. Gone. Ginger handed me a sandwich and a soda and ordered me out of my own booth, telling me to go find someplace to sit down ~ by myself ~ take a break and have some lunch.
And then there is my all-time dork moment. I went to Market in Fall 2001 as a prospective vendor. While wandering through the aisles, I happened upon Pieces From My Heart. There she stood. She's very hip, cool and cute in person. I know she says she always quilts with chocolate but she's way too trim to actually be eating any of it. When she said "Hi", I said... "Oh my gosh! You're Sandy Gervais! I have all your fabric!" I'm praying she never remembers. I hope that never happens again.
3. What kind of schedule do you have to keep when you go to Market?
While I already talked about some of this, the truth is that most everyone is so busy and the adrenaline is such that they're getting up early and staying up late. When I'm in Houston, my schedule is usually a little easier because I don't stay at a hotel so I am in bed by 11:00 or 11:30 and up by 5:30 am. When I'm elsewhere, I'm usually up a little later and up a little earlier.
4. Do I have help at Market?
Sometimes. I will be by myself in Houston, I usually am at Fall Market. My friend Judy was in Minneapolis, I was by myself in Pittsburgh last year, and Judy and Ginger were there for help in Portland. I am also blessed to always have terrific neighbors who watch the booth if I have to make a restroom-break, and everybody is always offering to get me something to eat or drink. Thank you, LeAnne! It's pretty amazing but everybody kind of looks out for, and takes care of, everybody else. For the most part, I'm in the booth... though it must be said that it was pointed out to me in Minneapolis that I was probably gone more than I was there. I think it was just timing.
5. Do I keep track of how many people visit my booth at Market?
Absolutely! And I don't have to take off my socks to keep count either!
6. Has Rosie ever been to Market?
No and yes. No, she hasn't been IN the convention center but she has been to Houston. And she's been to the convention center, she was there one year when I had to go down to drop off something for a friend. She stayed in the car with my Mom while I ran inside. I keep thinking I should try to get permission to get her inside but I still haven't figure out how I would do the logistics of it. She could come in the back door ~ the freight entrance ~ with my brother for the last hour and then I could take her home with me after it closed... but I really don't think Quilts Inc. would let me do it. Liability issues and all that. And if they let Rosie in, they would have to let everybody's dog, cat, gerbil and whatever in.
It was once suggested that I pretend Rosie was a Service Dog with the appropriate "coat" but that would never work. She's not well-trained or well-behaved enough. The first sign of a treat or a toy and she'd be off and running, thwacking her tail into everything and jumping all over people.
That was it for the questions and I can't think of anything else to mention.
So that's it for now. I'll be back before I go to Houston.