Yesterday, for the very first time in my life, I worked in a shop during a street festival. The Northcote High St Festival happens every September, the weekend before the Grand Final. Not being a big fan of large, alcohol-driven crowds, I've usually stayed away. But this year, the festival took on a whole new dimension - each slightly woozy punter was a potential convert to the Dark Side, an aspiring knitter or crocheter who could be wooed into an extravagant luxury yarn purchase, rather than someone who might accidentally vomit on me if I got too close.
To celebrate the festival, we ran free knitting and crochet classes all day. As a promotion, it worked reasonably well - we had a steady flow of people through the shop pretty much all day. It might have worked better if our offer had appeared on the festival program, the festival website or our own website (still under construction!), but the response was still pretty good. One thing that helped immensely was having one of the free classes outside - I think we have Ewelina to thank for that idea! We hauled a couch and two chairs out the front of the shop, sat our instructors down and got them knitting. One of our raving fans also showed up and joined them - like magic, people started coming into the shop to find out more. Note for next year: get a marquee and set up a proper outdoor lesson area. It should go off like a frog in a sock.
The festival was also a great opportunity to showcase new stuff - like Inge's amazing scarves (she does classes - see our website! - and she's on Etsy) and Chiara's gorgeous handspun yarns (she also does classes and has an Etsy site - check 'em out!). I'm not sure what new stuff we'll have next year, but I'm surely going to make sure that we have plenty of it prominently displayed on festival day!
The main point of the festival is music. Note for next year: find a band or buskers and set them up inside or under the marquee. The gallery across the road had, throughout the day, drummers - a band - at least one DJ - and massive, massive crowds. About 10pm, I looked out the front window, the place was still packed. Fantastic PR, although they may be feeling a little weary this morning!
The other main points of the festival are food and alcohol. Late in the afternoon, a person wandered in and asked us if we had a courtyard. I replied cautiously that we did sort of, but it was more like a car space. All became clear when the person then asked "Is this the Peacock Hotel?" I explained that it wasn't and carefully guided them to the street. You can see the Peacock Hotel from my front door, but I'd say the odds are only 50/50 that the person made it. Note for next year: develop a procedure for managing people who are not operating at their usual level of competence.
My final festival note to myself for next year is - get some of my friends over and make sure I arrange some time out! It sounded like there was some great stuff going on, and I was a bit sorry that I didn't make some time to explore and see what else was going on. That said, by the end of the day, I was pretty happy to curl up on the couch with my knitting and listen to the gentle sounds of techno pumping out of the gallery across the way - much easier and more comfortable than trying to actually squeeze into one of the venues!!