Last night was the Ladies Night Out event in downtown Columbus, TX. It has been going on yearly for quite a while but somehow I had missed it. This was our first year to be vendors there and it probably won't be our last. It was not without issues however.
The event is sponsored by the Columbus Chamber of Commerce. The set-up is you buy a plastic wine glass for $10 and can get free wine and food at any of the wine bars set up around town. We reserved a booth at the Stafford Opera House which faces the courthouse on the square. It's a fabulous old building that is still used for dinner theater and as a venue for various private occasions - weddings, proms, private dinners, etc. There were 28 of us vendors at the Opera House and several more two blocks down the street at the Live Oak Art Center. In addition, many of the local businesses were open late and a trolley was available to get people to the stores off the square and not within easy walking distance.
We arrived at the opera house right at 1 pm for set-up. Our booth was located upstairs which was a bit more difficult than being on the first floor but the elevator worked perfectly and the stairs were easily available. I had already called and verified that there is no WIFI in the building so we would have to use my smart phone as a hot-spot if our Shopify system was going to work for credit card sales. I have never been able to set that up successfully so we brought along our knuckle buster to run credit cards the old fashioned manual way. We weren't able to figure out where our power was while we were setting up so Peggy went to ask. Turns out I hadn't ticked the right box on the vendor application so we were given a booth with no power. Well, crap. No power at all? Nope.
Peggy made a run back to my house to pick up some small battery powered lights we had used at a previous show and stopped at the dollar store to get some more small lights and some more batteries. When the sun went down our booth was a cave even with all the small battery powered lights we had added. We weren't exactly bumping into each other but it was close.
So no WIFI and no power. I was ready to write off the event completely. Except we had a really great time. We had good sales and no one wanted to use a credit card so it didn't matter that I couldn't start up Shopify. I ran into lots of people I know and we were greeted warmly by lots of people we had never met before. I was amazed how many people told us they were so glad we had come. We gave out lots of business cards to lots of people who said they wanted to take some classes. It was immensely satisfying... and then it was over.
Like any one day show, it was exhausting. Loading, unloading, setting-up, being charming, tearing-down, loading and unloading all in one day is a lot of work. Fortunately, I had done the packing before yesterday and am working on the unpacking today. And the drive was only 15 minutes from my house to the Opera House. But it was all good. Next year we will get our application in early and be sure to ask for a location with power.