Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Main Street Market or Bust

If you live in the Rockford region, or are a vintage lovin foul like so many of us, chances are that you've heard of Urban Farmgirl (UFG). She's a blogger and Kane County Flea Market guru (think upscale market, not truly a flea market, in the Chicago burbs) and she calls Rockford home for her beautiful shop. The first time I walked inside of her shop I declared that "I wanted to live there forever". It's beautiful and swoony with white and pale aqua everywhere, and is almost like antiques hooked up with Pottery Barn and had a love child.

Well, thanks to Urban Farmgirl's creativity and her vintage connections all over the country, Simply Vintage was chosen as one of the 79 vendors to participate in her first ever Main Street Market. We sent off our vendor application with bated breath and we're thrilled when we got the "welcome, vendor" email. Then came the planning, collecting and painting. One of the things that I never realized before owning a small, vintage business was how much work goes into each piece you find. More times than not, the piece has been sitting forgotten and collecting dust and decades of dirt somewhere. Not only do we, as vendors, have to hunt for days on end for our pieces, but we then haul it (and they did not make things light-weight in the past, let me tell ya), unload it, scrub dust, dirt and spiders off, prime it, paint it, reloading it, haul it, unload it again, etc... Side note... just as a head's up and a little advice, when trying to negotiate a price on something of that nature, try to think through how much the vendor paid for it, how much money they put into primer, paint, a protective finish supplies, and their time before you ask them to slash a price by 50%. Ask gently please. Chances are we want it to go to a good home (and our husbands don't want to have to reload it into the Jeep nor store it any longer) so we'll negotiate it with you if you're realistic and respectful. A tiny piece of our heart and much of our sweat is in each piece, be gentle, please.

As the weeks led up to the sale, Mary aka "Urban Farmgirl" began posting vendor spotlights. Oh my word. These vendors are talented! Intimidated is a good word to use to express what I felt with each new vendor she'd feature. Some of these women came from all over the Midwest (and even further) and they are like vintage ballers. And then there's little ole, Simply Vintage. Just trying to make a sale here and there. I do not want to relive the week leading up to the Market. I was beyond tired but had SO much to do. A few times a night, I'd tell the Hubs "I quit. No one is going to buy this stuff." I was intimidated, tired, nervous and defeated. But we were committed and had paid for our booth so off we went on Friday evening to unload six truck loads of inventory from our shop. Main Street Market or bust!

With about 10 minutes to spare before the gates opened at 10am on Saturday, we finally placed the last item in its place. We stepped back, took a look and thought "here we go." The gates opened at 10am and I kid you not, I saw grown women power walking passed 78 booths to get to UFG's booth. They did not even glance our way. They were women possessed with credit cards burning holes in their pockets and husbands somewhere at home praying that they would not come home with any more "old stuff". My heart sank as the crowd flew past our booth. This is going to be a LONG day, I thought.

And then just as quickly as the first group passed us by, the second group hit us with a vengeance. And then came the third group and the fourth group and the.... By 10:45 we had sold almost every piece of furniture that we had brought. Within 45 minutes! My mom and I served as the cashiers while my partner, Traci, manned the sales floor, and we could not keep up. It was money hand over fist in multiple directions. I remember asking my mom what time it was while we were frantically trying to ring people up (thinking it was probably about noon) and when she said 10:38 I about died. My fear was that we'd have to reload 6 truck loads of stuff back up at 5pm and make $100 or some other insanely low and sad amount. We left at 5:45pm with about 8% of our entire store inventory left. Boom. I'm still on a high from it 4 days later thanks to the couple of thousand shoppers who came through. Thank YOU, ladies and gentlemen (yep, even men found some great treasures)!

Needless to say, I'm already pumped for next year's event and may or may not have started to restock my inventory by Monday. What??

Want to check out Urban Farmgirl online, visit
To check out Main Street Market's page, visit

Here's a sneak peek at our booth:
This is pretty much what my house and life looked like for the week leading up to the show. Both may still look a bit like this since I have events every night since.
Just a two of the pieces I recovered and painted.
The white and yellow chevron chair and matching scale were probably two my favorite pieces I did. The chair sold by about 10:15am. Success. One of my mom's scrabble art pieces, shown below on the yellow chair, flew out of the door.

I don't know what it is about unique colored shutters, but these bad boys sold within minutes. Luckily we had another set that the Hubs brought mid day, and those sold within 5 minutes of hitting the floor. 
I think all but one thing in this picture sold.

Selfishly I pulled the pogo stick for myself. I loved it when I found it an estate sale and after about 30 people picked it up and passed on it, I decided to keep it. Needless to say, a teenage boy came by around 3pm and was heartbroken when we told him it "sold". I should've sold it to him.
Sorry, friend. Maybe I'll part with it next year. Some finds are just harder to let go.

And in comes the crowd.
The calm before the vintage storm.

And although this is not our booth, my friend, Jenny, is too stinkin cute not to share with you.
She specializes in mason jar tumblers with custom koozies, mason jar light fixtures, and children's clothing. Her rockabilly dress that matched her booth was a huge hit, and she swears she got more compliments on that than her items.
It was fun to be next to her booth to break up the day a little bit.

Special thanks to my mom for working her tail off for us! We could not have done it with just two of us; no way, no how. So she stood for about 9 hours straight in the hot sun with us. She's the best! And, her awesome Scrabble tile frames, vases, coasters, etc...practically sold out so it was a win-win.

See y'all next year!

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