Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Gun Show Saga

We attended a gun show this weekend to sell our original art, prints and poems. I have never laughed so hard or had so much fun in ages.

Now bear with me, while I tell parts of this will all come together in the end....

I'll start out with the story of the "black box".

Robert and I love to "recycle". A nice way of saying we're died in the wool dumpster divers. We find the most amazing things in the dumps. Whenever we find one of these truly, incredibly, amazing, cast off items, we always comment, "Isn't this something? Now why would anyone throw that away!???"

The "black box" was one of those finds. It's about one foot square. Pure black, made of wood and decorated with silver pieces that round out it's corners. It has a beautiful leather handle on the front with more silver decorations holding the handle to the box. The lid opens on hinges. We use it for our cash box. It's a little large for this purpose, but at every show, you seem to need a place to keep business cards of new acquaintances, information about the next shows, your cash, receipt books, etc. The black box works perfectly for us. It has room for everything we need at our sales table.

A few months ago, we set up out at the Air Force Base BX to see if we could sell anything there. We were members of a guild then, and we all set up together. By the time we had the set up complete, we were all tired and crabby. One of our friends, took a most extreme objection to our "black box". A complete brawl ensued among our members over that black box. Robert and I were the show committee, so it finally came down to a matter of authority, we said the black box would stay and that was it. By this time, we had made quite a spectacle in the entrance doorway to the BX, it's a wonder they didn't call security!

After the show at the base, we didn't pay our dues and rejoin the guild, although we've remained good friends and look forward to times when we know we'll be showing beside each other again. The guild shows at the gun show also, so when we set up there, we were all so glad to see each other once again.

The lady who didn't like our black box at the BX show, came to see our set up. I pointed out the black box, and told her Robert was going to have me paint her name on it for this show. She looked at the box, and she said, "That's a beautiful box, I would have never have had such a fit over a box that looked this nice!" When I convinced her this box was "the black box" we had such a laugh, she said, "I don't know why I objected to that box, I like it now." So it is good to know, you can have a fight with a friend and come out on the good side of it....with both of you laughing about how silly it all was.

Another of our great, amazing, wonderful, dumpster finds was this little rectangular cart. It's a flat base of wood, with hard rubber wheels underneath it. You can hook a rope to the wooden base, and pull the cart. In the beginning of it's life, it was made to carry quite heavy loads.

At the end of this particular gun show, Robert decided we could use that cart, and take "everything out in one load". (What can I say, he's an old truck driver!) He also thinks a bungee is magic and can hold anything together, and he also thinks you have to "make a load pay".

So when we're taking down after the show, he has this plan to put everything on that little cart we found in the dump, it was going to be the "magic carpet" that hauled everything out easily, and "all at once".

So we took all the paintings down, and put them into their totes. We took down all the lights and fabric and hangers and put that hardware into it's special tote. We took all the large paintings and put them in the big tote.

We took the panels apart, they're about 7 feet tall, so when laid flat on that little magic cart, they made a trailer that was seven foot long, and 2 and a half foot wide. On top of those panels, we put the wooden poem stands. They're about three feet tall. So now our cart is about 7 foot long and four foot high. We loaded the totes underneath the poem stands. We took the print rack base and "bungeed" it onto the side of all this. We took the print rack top, and bungeed it on top of this conglomeration of stuff that sat on our amazingly wonderful dumpster find, the little cart. Next we took our bar stools and bungeed them tight to the top of the entire mess! The cart is now 5 foot high. It holds one hundred paintings, prints and poems, all the racks, hardware, and lights of our set up and it looks like this:
You can see the wonderful black box to the front of this load, and the base stand for the print rack on the back.
Here are the totes and chairs, the step ladder, the large display board and the big paintings' tote, which absolutely would not fit on the cart. You can see why.

When the cart was still inside the building, and it was finally loaded...Robert left me sitting beside it while he went to get the car and the trailer. So here I am, sitting beside this stuff, like a bag lady with my cart. Everyone is hauling their stuff out on their nice little carts they bought from Home Depot or Ace Hardware, right? As they walk by me, they're all shaking their heads in disbelief. I have to tell them, "What can I say, he's an old truck driver!?" By the time the 10th person went by, I'm laughing so hard from all the comments, I have tears streaming down my face, because all these fellow gun show exhibitors have watched us load this cart and they all have something to say about it's appearance now.

Robert finally arrived to pick up me and the cart. We begin to drag and push this thing toward the door. Other people see the struggle we're having and they join in and we're all pushing away when the darn things stops right outside the door and refuses to go any further. We were all so involved with getting it "OUT" of the building, we didn't notice the big black marks we left where a wheel got stuck and drug into two pieces!

Without four good wheels, that thing was going nowhere! So now, I'm once again sitting beside the cart waiting for my Robert to back up to it with the trailer. I'm listening to more comments, and laughing my head off because there's no way you can't see the humor in all of this-the wonderful dumpster finds, our high hopes for their performance, and the resulting disaster!

It's to funny for words. To top it all off, we sold nothing at this show, while people all around us had customers lined up at their booths! Our friends in the guild sold over a thousand dollars worth of paintings, and we sold nothing. Not only did we have no sales, a bum cart, a hated black box, but we also had a lady shoplift one of Robert's poem books!

Luckily a friend of ours in the next booth saw her take the book. She motioned for me, and we ran after the lady and chased her down. Made her give the book back to me. I wish I'd turned her over to security... I was so shocked my mind was kind of numb, or I would have. The next time I have a shoplifter, they won't get off so easily, she was wearing a $200 outback duster, $200 boots, a hundred dollar hat, and she said she had no money to pay for the book!

You hear of shoplifters all the time, but the reality of it is still a mind blower. That's probably why they get away with it most of the time...because we can't believe anyone would actually do it to us!

So now I also know, a show like this is not all about sales and lost entry money. I saw friends I hadn't seen in years, met new friends who will share the show experience with us for the next few years, enjoyed friends and guild members who we've shown with at previous shows.... and had more laughs and experiences than you can usually cram into one weekend!

And even though no one liked any of my paintings good enough to buy one, I'm all fired up with new ideas and can't wait to paint some more! At least I got some good feedback and encouragement to keep on doing what I do...

And there's one more thing I have to say, and it's the most important of all. My Robert is the most amazing man. He works so hard to try to make the set up and take down easy. He's there selling his poems, but he's also there 150% for me. I know I can count on him for ideas, cheerful companionship, and fun. No matter what we end up doing, we see the humor in it and can laugh. It's so amazing....Life is good.