Sunday, 20 May 2012

Setting up my table every Saturday morning... & a copper wrapped smoky quartz ring

The other day I was poking around in an old folder and found a picture from my first year as a market vendor back in 2009. I started selling at the market in late November 2008.

19 June 2009
 Things have changed substantially in three years. If nothing else, I certainly am more substantial. ;-p

January 2012

I thought it would be fun to show you how I put my table together every week. My greatest innovation was adding a spotlight before Christmas. Over Christmas I also had tiny white fairy lights threading through the top of the grid.

This is how I put my table together on Saturday 19 May 2012. The market is open from 7 a.m. until noon 50 weeks a year. The other two weeks we're turfed out to make room for the fall/Labour Day fair at the end of the summer and the Woodworking Show at the end of... September? Particularly now that it's summer, I try to get here by 5 a.m. in order to be able to pull up close to the market doors, but still keep out of the way of, if not actually beat to the market, the produce vendors with their big trucks and tents and tables.

The grid is stored out of the way during the week against the wall beside the white framed blackboard in Fish Guy's space. It's hard to tell, but there are actually two triangular grid shelves slotted into the corner, the top one of which the lamp is clamped to. I use very low tech fat green rubber horticultural wire (remember Gumby?) from the dollar store to tie the grids together. I can just lift the two end racks tied together, and the rubber-coated wire allows me to quickly twist tie the third grid on. With the triangular corner shelves slotted in, this is a very stable setup.
If I'm doing a show elsewhere, these grids slide perfectly into my Blazer -- I should take a photo next week of my truck loaded up.
Chris the Honey Guy made the black shelving unit for me. This unit fits perfectly into the back of my truck and also fits standard 3-foot deep banquet tables.

Those three boxes with plastic covers are fancy partitioned soap boxes that a consignment store owner gave me, and I keep loose beads and pendants in them.

The clear plexi things you see in the middle of the table are picture frames/menu card holders that I get at the dollar store and I use those for risers to angle all my trays and boxes on the table.

I have added the permanently-loaded boards that live in a plastic shopping bag separated by 1-inch foam.

The boards I pin all my jewellery and beads to actually all fit into custom carry boxes I used to use for storage, and then at the market they would stack at one end of the table and the boards would lean against them -- this was before I decided to bring in the rack.

In another bin live all my turquoise and coral strings pre-strung on curtain rods, ditto two rods with pewter and glass necklaces. Using the curtain rods alone has saved me more than half an hour of setup and takedown time. I use a mix of long and short brackets upon which I also string bunches of necklaces sorted by "theme" and materials. There are closeups of these below.

The two small busts have had their necklaces placed on them and they go on the middle shelf

I've loaded necklaces on all the brackets, and set up the tall earring rack on the back right and which is C-clamped to the shelf. Today I brought a tall bust to show my long "patchwork" seed bead and turquoise necklaces.

The feather earrings and super-long bead, leather and feather necklaces and glasses lanyards are added to the two triangular shelves, either tied to the edge of the shelf or suspended by little S-hooks. It's a little hard to see, but there is a hand-towel holder right out front there on the left which is where I put my newest items, in this case, new "guy/kid" pendants, like fossils, shark teeth, skulls, etc.

Ta-da! The table is complete, the ring box is out, the cool partitioned bamboo box I got from Value Village for $3 is out, the boxes containing better jewellery are all neatened up, leather cord is put out, bracelet T-bars are positioned. You can't see it, but there is a long bracket sticking out up top behind the grid from which I hang all my skeins of Greek leather.
It's now about 6:30 a.m. (I got here late today). Notice how during my setup the coffee pot has miraculously appeared on the table to the right courtesy of Peter's Bakery and is now half-empty, and Chocolate Guy has just arrived. Yep, that giant red box and those cardboard boxes on the back table are all full of freshly made and delicious chocolate!

Taking my time, this setup takes me about one hour to put together. Everything has a specific place in each box, bin or bag, ditto on the table (although that is currently being tweaked), and at noon I take the display down in reverse order. Note that even though you'd think packing up the earring carousels would be a quick and logical first step in order to get them out of the way, they are the first up and last to go into their bins as I get a lot of sales from early and last-minute shoppers.

In between or as I'm chatting with customers, around 11:30, I gather up all the plexi "risers" and by 11:45 I start consolidating all of the necklaces onto a storage T-bar:

It looks like a mess, but there is method to my madness. I alternate placing clumps of necklaces on this T-bar and taking them off during setup, each handful goes on a bracket or onto a bust, like with like -- within a minute, I don't know, 50, 60 or 80 necklaces are on display, and then at the end of the morning within 2 or 3 minutes all the loose necklaces are off the table. The larger T-bar prevents those irritating goinks that happen in cords and especially stringing wire if they were left hanging for weeks and months on end in storage on something very narrow in diameter, like the towel rack on the left.

Once that's done, usually around 11:50, I start taking the feather earrings down (they live in a shallow plastic box), the lids get put on all the boxed jewellery, and the plastic lids go on the trays of loose beads. Note that all my plastic boxes now are the same dimensions. I used to have all sizes and shapes and it makes for really difficult packing up and storage.

This is very professional-looking, no? But the size is perfect. This is partly my office box and... shhhh... where my water bottle, purse and camera live when I'm packing up, and it always goes on the front seat of my truck. It's covered with a plastic garbage bag to protect the earrings from dust and whatnot and prying eyes from seeing what else is in there. Those bulldog clips are really useful little suckers to have on hand.

Everything wedges in very securely. Do not leave home w/o a box of Kleenex! Your fellow vendors will love you. In the bottom is my spare change/money box (I now use an apron with three pockets in the front for bills, change, pain pills, lip gloss, etc.), on top of that a cigar box holds a lot of expensive carved turquoise skulls, the C-clamp is wedged into the bottom, ditto the mirror, and any odds and ends that I need to bring live there, too. If I think of something while at home, it goes in there immediately, at least that's the plan -- reprinted business cards, etc. -- before I forget... again.

Notice how every other horizontal bar has been snipped away at the top so I have two rows to hang my long dangly earrings so they can easily be seen. This rack has curly feet like up top, as well, which makes it very nice-looking but completely unstable once it's fully loaded. And at outdoor markets in the slightest breeze? Oh, my... I got the same guy who did the snipping to spot weld two flat strips to the bottom curly things and I C-clamp the rack to the black wooden riser.

I didn't photograph it, but I have a medium-sized two drawer plastic bin in which I keep pens, invoice books, extra price tags, scissors, all my tools, most of my orders I've made over the week, plastic earring nuts and sterling stud nuts if people need them (I usually give them away if someone requests them... well, not the sterling nuts...) and other odds and ends. In the flat-bottomed Tyvek shopping bag it lives in  is also a large ziplock freezer bag containing all my paper bags, tall, clear cello gift bags that I put the feather earrings in when I sell them. I also have another flat plastic bin I keep all my gauze gift bags. At first, in trying to be elegant and orderly, I tried to stick to one colour, but now there's every colour and pattern you can imagine. I have found that people really like them, and for the relatively low cost (way, way cheaper than a box), it's worth it in repeat business that's generated. Sometimes I think some people come and buy something just to get the gift bag.

I've thought about using one of those three-drawer plastic bins on rollers in order to consolidate a lot of the above. I've seen great use made of two of those with a board across to make an extra table top to add space for wrapping things and keeping receipt books, cash box, etc., particularly at shows where you only get the one table. One of these days.

Closeup of the feathers all laid out, and the curtain rods of beads (note the use of shower curtain hooks) hung on brackets, which are also loaded up with necklaces, all in an attempt to get things up at eye level in the most expedient way possible. During the week, all four rods rest across a plastic storage bin so the beads dangle freely. Loaded boards are wedged in on either side by 1 inch foam cut the same dimensions.

  This photo gives a better sense of the richness of colour. A cacaphony of colour...

...although some might say confusion. Phhht... works just fine for me. Now to figure out how to get MORE on the table...

Oh... if anyone is interested, I made these two wrapped rings on spec for a customer who ended up buying the turquoise ring. The copper-wrapped smoky quartz size 10 ring is still for sale. ($10 plus $5 shipping and handling).

Yep, I got those cuts from making the rings, and the quartz is hiding a massive blood blister from my pliers.

Thanks for looking!


Anonymous said...

WOW! What a set up and in such a small space. Every jeweler knows one table is never enough, but you my dear made it happen. I've always struggled with pendants. I make dichroic glass pendants and could never find a good display, that was 'up' for people to see but yet have easy access. I see your pendants standing 'up'. what holds them in? Can people get them in and out easily? Does them getting one out cause others to fall out?
Well Done!
Cindy Cherrington

Barbara said...

Hi, Cindy,

Thanks! Yeah, going "north" or "up" is the only way. Do you mean the boards that I made that the pendants are pinned to?

I tie a bit of plastic fishing line to each pendant and use jewellery pins to attach them to the boards. You still have to keep an eye on people as they will pull at the pendants and tip the whole board over. I pack and store the boards "face-to-face" with one-inch foam in between (a cut up foamie from the camping store or fabric store) in either bins or the large Tyvek carry bags.

email me if you need a longer explanation or want to see more pictures. bemacdougall @