The hotel we stayed at happened to be less than a block away from the venue, which was a community centre in the bottom floor of a senior’s condo development. In fact, the neighbourhood in the section of Kamloops, British Columbia we were in was a lot like that. Another condo development that shared the parking lot of our hotel was the same only it contained a library and a handful of retail and professional businesses. It was an attractive look and appeared somewhat high scale.
The vending event, the annual North Shore Community Centre Christmas Craft Fair & Bake Sale had around 40 vendors split into two different halls. We were in the one intended for crafters with commercial sellers in the other one although both rooms looked to have a mix of crafters and commercial in each. Regardless, we were located along a back wall which we liked as we were near an entrance where people saw our booth almost as soon as they entered.
Our ‘try-before-you-buy’ samples were a hit, as they usually are, and we had a few new products on site including what I like to call my ‘boozy line’ which is a variety of jellies containing different kinds of alcoholic beverages. Other items we brought to the event included a selection of our salsas and assorted other jellies. We were not sure what would sell so we had a huge selection to choose from as well as plenty of extra stock, just in case.
The event started slowly and other vendors who had been to this event before were telling us it is usually busier than it had been. By lunchtime our numbers were disappointing but still about average for any of the outdoor vending events we had attended during the past summer. The early afternoon saw a slight increase and our booth was becoming popular in the room with people stopping and trying items. Other vendors started to come check us out as well.
As George’s voice carries well, it was hard for others in the room not to hear him when he started his sales pitch! Some sales took place without samples and we found a number of our customers were not buying for themselves – they were shopping for unusual Christmas gifts for others. This was what we were hoping was going to happen and that helped our sales. With only an hour left in the event, things were looking pretty good for us.
By the time there was about 20-minutes left to go, some vendors started packing up. Clearly they were not having a good day. As the paperwork we signed to participate in this fair clearly started tear down could not happen until the show ended at 3:00 PM we were a little surprised. Our experience in the past has shown that if we hold off until the end, sometimes we pick up some extra sales. Considering it takes us about 30-minutes or so to tear down and we had another couple of hours to get home, we were in no hurry to start packing.
Then it happened.
An elderly woman in a wheelchair and her caregiver entered the hall at the door closest to us at about 5-minutes before the event ended. Most of the vendors were already partially packed up with a couple completely gone. We watched her go through some items at the vendor booth next to us that was still open. She bought some items. Her caregiver came over to me and asked what we were selling. I gave him a rundown of our stock and chatted him up. He made it clear that the lady he was with would be interested in our products.
When she got to our booth the room contained mostly vendors hauling away their products. I gave her some samples to try and she was very interested in many of our products. A few more samples and more sharing of details of what some of the products were and how they could be used. She started buying jars. When she was done she asked if we did mail order so she could order more. We don’t and when I told her this, she bought even more jars. By this time our booth was one of two still open.
After we handed over her purchases and said our goodbyes, she had made our vending day there a much better day for us than it was. It also showed us that by staying to the end we do receive some extra business. Other vendors in the room missed out on some additional income by leaving so much earlier than the rest of us. We are never in a hurry to leave and our Kamloops experience will live on to remind us why it is important to wait for every last customer and to serve them as if they were our first.