In the 10 or so weeks leading up to the craft fair I worked on brainstorming/developing product ideas that would be likely to sell well to the white crowd, eventually settling on stockings shaped like the continent of Africa with different Christmas themes. I then made samples, showed Sarah my ideas, and taught her how to make them. Sarah was a rock star when it came to getting together enough items to sell- managing to make a couple of stockings, various children’s clothes, and a few fabric baby books, all the while busy with other priorities and her own shop in the nearby village of Wairaka! Seriously, Sarah is amazing. In addition to Sarah’s items, our table housed a few bags to be sold for some of her friends as well as a significant amount of beautiful seed jewelry made by one of her sons, Andrew, and his friend.
The last couple of weeks before the fair we set prices, registered for our table, and created price tags with a short bio about Sarah. Everything was coming together and we were all excited to see the pieces getting closer and closer to the final product- a beautifully stocked table at the ARA Christmas Craft Fair and Flea Market.
The Big Day- The day of the fair Lori and I woke up dark and early – 4 a.m. – so we could catch the bus/taxi to Kampala in order to set up our goods like the ARA told us, between 7 and 8am. The trip up had its highs and lows. On one hand, we got picked up right outside our gate – talk about a major score! On the other hand I got to spend the majority of our journey squished between two men with a dress stand positioned between my legs and a few bags balancing on my lap. Now this wouldn’t have been as much of a problem if the dress stand wasn’t so gosh darn awkward (I had to pull it towards me the whole time so it wouldn’t hit the guy in front of me in the back of the head) and it didn’t look like a huge wooden cross to the untrained eye. Ok, so that last bit isn’t really a problem, I just didn’t like it. It made me feel like everyone who saw me carrying it would think I was some extreme stereotypical missionary trying to convert everyone I came across with my big cross. And, coincidentally, my hair was in a bun . . . haha.
We got to the ARA, set up our table, and waited – for the fair to start and the rest of the vendors to finish setting up so we could take a look at what else was around. It quickly became apparent that we had the least amount of merchandise by far, well, with the exception of a table selling all-natural soap. It was also even more apparent that a better description of this market would have been ‘a yard sale with a few craft items thrown in.’ There were A LOT of tables that looked like the sellers had just cleaned out their basements and were trying to get rid of their unwanted stuff. And I kid you not; ALL of the stuff at the junk table next to us was broken. Seriously every sale I overheard the woman trying to make went a little something like this: “. . . oh that’s a blender, but the motor’s broken . . . that’s a speaker for an iPod, but it’s missing some pieces . . . [an exercise ball, blow up water toys, and inflatable punching bag things] that has a small hole/puncture but you might be able to fix it . . .” I was floored- everything you are selling is BROKEN?! Are you kidding me?! But even more shocking was the fact that people were buying it. That junk was going like hot cakes and they cleaned up in 2 hours!! I still can’t get over how ridiculous it was. We, on the other hand, ended up selling a modest amount. I was hoping to do a little bit better, but given the fact that the crowd attending was of the yard sale focus as opposed to crafts/Christmas gifts, we did pretty well.
I have to say the highlight of the day, aside from cracking jokes about selling broken/used stuff next year with Lori and a little girl dancing to Christmas music, was the guest appearance by Santa Claus. Or should I say a very creepy Santa Claus. At first I thought he was scary because a mildly terrifying looking man had been chosen to wear the symbolic red outfit. Luckily that wasn’t the case. No, Santa was scary because Santa was actually a person dressed up in a monkey costume dressed up in a Santa Claus outfit!!! WHHAAATT?! I guess it was a way of raising money/awareness for a nearby zoo, I think. Anywho, if Monkey Santa wasn’t strange enough things got even more bizarre when they brought out a giant boa constrictor to the grassy area in the middle of the fair. It was here that the red suited marsupial and another guy proceeded to handle the snake while people came up to take/have their pictures taken with it.
Talk about a very interesting and . . . eh-hmm, unique experience. It was definitely something I won’t soon forget. This has undoubtedly made my ‘Say Awkward: Uganda Edition” list of highlights. Don’t worry I will definitely be sharing my top ten list!