Tri-colour American Cocker Spaniel, Blaze

How to Sell Books at a Seniors Christmas Craft Fair

Our local Seniors Centre was holding its annual Christmas craft and baking sale and I decided to join them. This was a first for me, but we had just received Grant’s revised edition of View from the Tower from the publisher; my River Tales was still shiny new, and I had a few copies left of Growing up Weird and it seemed like a good way to spend a rainy Saturday and drum up some Christmas spirit.

I had already set up a practice run at home of how I would display the books, and snapped a few shots that were photo bombed by my dog, which was a good thing because on the day, my tablet refused to take photos and I have no visual record of the craft sale.

In case you wonder how it looked, I used a cranberry-coloured tablecloth and set a couple of stylized metal Christmas trees between the book stands. It was cheery and bright, and drew people over even though my spot was tucked in the corner by the Emergency exit next to a table laden with knitted fingerless gloves and crocheted hats. The Watkins lady was next to them with a display of vanilla, body lotions and foot repair salve, followed by the sought-after baking tables in the far corner.

Almost everyone who came in went straight for the shortbread and apple pies, not even glancing at the vanilla and fingerless gloves on their first go around, let alone my books.

On the other side of my corner, the shuffleboard table had been carefully covered with plywood to support a display of vividly dyed hand-woven scarves and wraps from Ecuador which were being sold by a couple of young women who attracted attention with their personalities and beautiful wares. It meant that groups of shoppers were near my corner but mostly with their backs to me.

At one point I furtively eased my table out farther into the room, perhaps blocking the exit, but sometimes ‘needs-must.’

The crowds came; the woman on the far side with the embroidered toilet paper rolls did a brisk business — cheeky sayings and puppies — apparently, they are popular gifts; the retired drug store owner’s sales of knitted facecloths, three for ten dollars were good too.

I had wondered how book sales would be among the stalls of knitted tea cozies and adult bibs, but they went surprisingly well.

My daughter and one of my sons dropped in for support and to let me grab lunch and look around. Interestingly, I noticed that when one of them was with me the sales were better. Maybe it was because two of us looking relaxed, and chatting together was more welcoming than one woman (me) staring hopefully.

Whatever the cause, when we bantered with the customer, and talked about the stories behind the books, not even trying to make a sale, there was inevitably a shift, as the person picked up a copy of River Tales or View from the Tower and said, “I’ll take this one.”

Although I was happy to make some money, the pleasure of talking to fellow readers and meeting new people was the best thing about the craft fair. So, look for me next year tucked in by the emergency exit, crushed between fingerless gloves and scarves from Ecuador.

Musings of an island crone,