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Observations at a Street Fair

Crowds of people navigate the stalls set up along a street.

From March 22-24, 2024, I had a booth at the 55th annual 4th Avenue Street Fair. This exciting event brings over 300,000 people to shop for an incredible variety of arts and goods and enjoy diverse and delicious food. I have several art pieces from my visits to previous fairs in my home.

Joining in on the Fun

For the first time, I decided I was ready to apply to participate. I was surprised and pleased when I was accepted. Several people commented as they passed my booth that they had never seen books for sale at the fair. I like being a pioneer. Many people congratulated me for being selected and for having great science-based books. Often, people would say they were only for children, but I must give a shout-out to Jacki, who bought a couple of picture books for herself! More adults need to return to the joy of immersing themselves in the pleasure of picture books. Everyone loves a great picture. 

One man complained he didn’t have time to read anymore with his busy schedule. “A picture book would be perfect for me,” he said. The pleasure of looking at the pictures, only a few words to read, and the possibility of learning something—perfect for the busy person. Unfortunately for him, he didn’t buy a picture book to enjoy.

Speaking of pictures, the aunt of one of my illustrators came by and was delighted to see her nephew’s work. She took a photo of me to share with his proud parents. I used to work with his father. You never know where you’re going to make an important contact.

My booth location was fabulous. I was facing east, near the food court, and across from a woman selling her fun math books. It was great that science and math were conveniently located near each other. It was warm in the morning, but the sun soon rose up and over, and I had shade in the afternoon. It’s a good marketing ploy to offer shade to the melting shoppers as they perused my wares.

The fair provides water and snacks to the vendors. I thought I had brought enough water, but I confess, I needed that one additional bottle to make it through to 6 p.m. I’m usually so busy selling that I don’t need more than a few snacks, but the sales were slower than hoped, so the bag of cashews was very welcome.

I went with my Meet the Author banner featuring my hybrid Grand Cayman rock iguana, Blue, for my booth decoration. He did a great job attracting attention. Many people recognized him as an iguana, but there were a few unusual guesses. No, he’s not a Gila monster. Even I wouldn’t hold a Gila monster, who doesn’t get to be five feet long, that close to my face! Gila monsters max out at about two feet.

Elaine's Meet the Author banner featuring a photo of her holding an iguana.

I wanted to see how well I would do for sales. I always consider an event successful if I cover the costs. I’m more excited when I make a profit. Previous events were either book or reptile-targeted. I have had satisfactory sales at the Tucson Festival of Books and the Tucson Reptile Show. I try to select more general events right before the holiday gift-giving season, such as early December. But I thought maybe the snowbirds would want to take easily packable books back north with them, so I decided to try this fair. Selling at a 3-day event does have advantages over the other weekend-only events. If you go through the effort of setting up the tent with 160 lb. of weights and hauling in the tables and books, it’s good to have sufficient time to sell.

I did well at this fair, but I expected to do better. Before the holiday gift-giving season, the December fair may bring out more book buyers. However, there were the contacts I made with area teachers that I always valued.

Thank you, 4th Avenue Spring Street Fair, for allowing me to participate. Let’s do this again.

Join me at my next author outing! Find all my upcoming events on my events page

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