Saturday, November 13, 2010

On The Other Side Of The Register

By Lorna

Black friday Just the other day, Jennifer reminded me Black Friday will soon be upon us.  Ahhh...Black Friday, the best day of the year for retail.  Retailers look forward to it all year long.  Why?  It's when they know for sure if they will survive the year in the black or the red.

I only participated in the madness of shopping on Black Friday once.  That was enough for me.  I'm not big on crowds and have limited patience. (Of course now that I have a Kindle, waiting in a long line would be a lot easier.)

I was a vendor in an antiques arcade for over 12 years, and I've based part of my Victoria Square books (the first one, A Crafty Killing, comes out on February 1st--under my Lorraine Bartlett name).  It was a lot of fun.  And being on the other side of the cash register on Black Friday was a lot of fun, too--especially when it was my merchandise that came through the line.  Ka-ching! (And we did it in Dickens' costumes, too!)

When I became a full-time author, I found I just didn't have the time to keep up with my booth.  There's a lot more to staying in that business than just putting your merchandise in a booth.  (Accounting, obtaining merchandise, cleaning and repairing it, inventory (ugh the worst), etc.)  But I didn't give up my entrepreneurial spirit.  And it was after the paperback edition of Murder on the Mind came out that I entered the Craft Show circuit.

Table1 I only do three shows a year, and they're fun.  Okay, the first one is 100% fun, the second, 90% fun and the third is a drag, but that's only because shows 2 and 3 are back-to-back and the sales aren't as good.  (People are shopped out by then.)  It takes a lot out of you to stand for 6-7 hours on a hard concrete floor (I always bring a bit of carpet).  You get thirsty asking people, "Do you read mysteries?"  But it's incredible when people return to your table (I have the same space every year and they know where to find me) and say, "I loved your last book!"  (Okay, it's incredible when ANYBODY says that.  It never gets old.)

I have my first show next weekend and already the butterflies are fluttering.  I'll be making up goody bags tomorrow (containing bookmarks, postcards and recipe cards Close_up_goody_bag from about 30 of my author friends) to hand out to my customers.  (Nothing like getting the word out about cozy mysteries!) Tomorrow I'll pack my boxes of books, CD play and CDs (a little holiday music gets people in the mood), my postcard garland (that was fun to make:  16 Chapter & Hearse postcards on a string of ribbon to hang from my table), and my table posters of my books.  (The cover of Chapter & Hearse blown up to gigantic proportions can be seen across a crowded room.)

Next Saturday (November 20th), author Lisa Bork is joining me at the Churchmouse Holiday Bazaar.  We did another show last year and Lisa decided to try this one, too.  (It's nice to have a fellow author to talk to during the last couple of hours of the show when things get slow.)

We'll be reminding shoppers that books make great gifts.  (Oh, and don't forget that yourself!)  It'll be a lot of fun.

Do you have holiday shopping traditions?