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  • Writer's pictureTina

Handmade Arcade

I'm excited to share with you that I will be in attendance at the in-person Handmade Arcade, held on August 7 at the Construction Junction in Wilkinsburg. At this point, I am fairly picky about the in-person events I attend for a number of reasons. However, I am excited about this event and looking forward to making new connections and friendships in the Pittsburgh area. This is new ground for me, and I feel a bit nervous as well as excited for the opportunity.

Several years ago, when I first began my journey into soap making and selling my products, I applied to dozens of events. I thought I could schedule myself for every weekend, travel all over a tri-state area, and have the time and energy to focus on my family, care for my goats, make amazing products, and still have a life. Enter reality. The reality is, it was an unrealistic fantasy. Being a somewhat creative person, I believe I often have grandiose ideas, and I don't always think things through from beginning to end. That is where my bibbed-wearing sidekick comes in and tempers my overflowing creative juices, aka, he stifles my creativity (insert wink).

I applied to the Handmade Arcade, one of the few juried events to which I applied. Being a newcomer to the whole vendor show circuit, I did not realize what juried meant or what a privilege it is to be accepted. Juried means your product, your display, and you are judged by a panel, and they decide if your product, your display, and you are a good fit for the event. Apparently, Handmade Arcade has a reputation for being discerning, and it isn't easy to be accepted on your first-time application. I knew nothing about any of this. I was accepted on my first try, but after a long, intense, and realistic discussion with The Bibbed Wonder declined my position and went along my merry way on my soap-making journey.

Fast forward two years ago. I talked with a vendor at Ligonier Country Market, and she suggested I apply to Handmade Arcade. She described the event as phenomenal, very well organized, wonderful attendance, and genuinely talented makers. I nonchalantly mentioned that I had been accepted a few years ago but decided not to attend. I thought this woman would have a heart attack when I told her I did not attend. She inquired as to why I made such a mistake. I was honest and told her I didn't think I was ready to handle a market of that magnitude at that time. She strongly encouraged me to apply again and, if accepted, attend this time.

I took her advice, filled out the application, attached the required number of photos, wrote my essay, and tentatively hit send. To my delight, several weeks later, I was informed I was accepted. I was thrilled, to say the least. I planned my display, assessed the amount of inventory I would need, and felt cautiously confident I was well prepared. Then Covid hit, and the world shut down. The Handmade Arcade was postponed twice and eventually canceled until further notice. I chose to forfeit my application fee and maintain my spot in the event in-person venues once again open with the promise of acceptance to the future event.

The future is finally here, and the event will be held in two weeks. I am beginning to feel anxious about my display, my product presentation, and my sales ability. I am also anxious about attending an event in an area that is unfamiliar to me. However, I keep telling myself it will be an adventure, nothing will be gained if I don't try, and if the panel thinks I am good enough, I should go with that and stop second-guessing myself. However, most of you know this is easier said than done. I am looking forward to my new adventure, and I am grateful for the opportunity.

If you are in the Pittsburg area on August 7th, I would love to see you. The Bibbed Wonder will be flying solo at the Ligonier Market that weekend. I have called dibs on my bean and our friend Jessica for Handmade Arcade. I am hoping I will win the title of the A-Team that day. If not, I will be subjected to songs inspired by the Cookie Monster whose lyrics have been changed to torment and insult me. You see, when we divide and conquer, The Bibbed Wonder calls himself the A-Team and says I am so far behind him, I don't even get to be the B-team. Nope, I am third string or the C-team. I wonder why I stay married to this man sometimes; I really do. Sigh.

As always, dear reader, stay safe, be smart, enjoy the adventures life presents, and keep washing your hands.

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