(Originally Written 8/9/2022)
I sit beneath the glow of string lights as the sun finishes setting, flanked on three sides with working surfaces like my cash box, stores of sauce, and the sample space ahead of me. My folding chair is admittedly pretty comfortable. A cooler breeze has replaced the unrelenting sun from earlier. This is my 25th vendor event since beginning one year ago. A lull in the crowd gives me time to muse and reflect on what just one year has given me. Suddenly, a vaguely familiar face catches my attention, “Hey! It’s the hot sauce guy!”. A daughter brings her mother and family over to the table. It’s one of many familiar encounters I get to enjoy set up at the county fair, each a face from a vendor event past, all with smiles and fond memories of tasty bites. It’s especially rewarding when I get to share a new flavor with an excited supporter!
The amount that I’ve learned since starting the vendor circuit is staggering. From what to say, how to say it, what to bring, down to how to set set up quickly, alone, and in as few trips to the car as possible. Brutal days of blasting sun, the weight of humidity, and hurried, indifferent crowds served as cruel teachers of how best to stay comfortable, physically and mentally, and even then not always successfully. It can just rightly suck sometimes. Braving the bad buys opportunities though; chance encounters with those who have walked a similar path granting valuable experience, leads on new and better events, and the occasional opportunity to help another vendor still finding their footing. The sense of community among the vendors is really something special. Each event can turn into an impromptu reunion with fellow small business owners of all kinds!
As I look forward to the remainder of the year, I’m excited to revisit the first events that showed me that there really was interest in this product, a real chance in this idea, as well as hit up some of the largest events I can imagine attending coming up! (Catch me at Nashville Oktoberfest!) This fire is lit, and it’s carried me in directions I’d never thought I’d walk. Great things feel just around the corner and I’m grateful to those of you reading this for every bit of every interaction we’ve had, even if it’s just you visiting my little corner of the internet. Thank you for one of the most interesting, exciting, and rewarding years of my life!