This summer, the studio joined a new community. We cannot afford a classic brick-and-mortar pop-up in Aspen, so our studio director Jennifer convinced me that the studio needed to join the ranks of the Aspen Farmer’s Market. So we applied, made the cut, and hustled to get ready.
We ordered a pop-up tent with sidewalls and staged several “rehearsals” to figure out how to get the rather unwieldy pop-up up in a jiffy. We tripped over the studio dogs in the process. The tallest among us (Ted!) kept smacking their heads. Next came custom tables, displays, signs, dog bowls, a new iPad and Square reader, and a guestbook. Then the 5:30 wake-up call to cut fresh flowers, assemble a coffee to go, and drive the van in before the traffic became heavy. Most of my friends thought me mad to give up a steady string of Saturdays, or too long in the tooth to go into service, but I wound up enjoying myself. It was a family affair with the studio pitching in for set up and break down, Jennifer on check-out duty, and either Ted or me on “the floor” assisting customers (if you can call a 10×10 foot space a floor). My husband showed up on his bike with lunch. After the mass shutdown, it felt really good to get to be social. Here are my observations:
- The steady march of dogs, kids, and babies never disappoints.
- Conversations were brief but deep — kind of like a version of speed dating.
- There are more variations of lycra than I knew existed.
- Everyone loves kettle corn.
- People get aggressive at the fresh flower stand.
- Pet strollers are common. I was solemnly introduced by one customer to a terrified cat who had flattened herself in the custom stroller to avoid being spotted by one of the hundreds of dogs padding about. A cat in a stroller was definitely a first.
- Dog fights always broke out, especially in front of our stall.
- Ferrets are still a thing. One market goer was wearing hers around her neck. I was relieved that our studio dogs stayed home.
- People still love to gossip and I heard local news, saw kids’ friends, and we enjoyed meeting other vendors and Aspen Farmer’s Market frequents.
- There is no method to transform surly people into pleasant ones. Fortunately, these encounters were the exception not the rule.
- Everyone plays pickle ball.
- It was heartening to see how many small businesses there are in the Valley.
- Finally, all of our efforts paid off. We met lovely people, attracted new clients — many of whom came to the studio and bought more art than I have ever sold through my galleries. We also managed to have fun in the process. I wish I could say that about the cat.