I held off on this until our very last Key West 2019 post since I suspect that the frequency with which we mention our market participation can become a bit tiresome. But it is a significant part of our life and particularly important to our finances, and let me tell you, January through March were quite good for the Shell On Wheels marketeers, so read on if your interested or skip it if the sordid details of our roving sales has become tedious.
During our winter Key West stay in 2018 we jammed three weekly farmers markets into our Wednesday through Friday mornings. That felt a bit like having a real job, and after some interesting experiences participating in seasonal festivals, we resolved to shift our Winter market pattern in the direction of special events rather than weekly markets. Besides, the Bayview weekly in Key West always felt a bit too pricey considering the crowd, the American Legion event on Stock Island shut down, and we did not quite gel with the Sugarloaf market manager, so the decision was pretty easy. So what did we do? Aside from two out of the fourteen Wednesday Sugarloaf markets and two on base community wide yard sales occurring during our three month stay, we participated in four special events.
The first of those was the Big Pine Key Nautical Expo (which is not to be confused with the weekly Big Pine Key Nautical Flea Market just down the road.) Held on Martin Luther King weekend on Big Pine Key’s Chamber of Commerce property, it typically draws in 200 vendors and a steady stream of potential buyers. I am not gonna lie: not every vendor was happy with this year’s offering. The people behind us were lucky if they covered their vendor fee, but we killed it! We were quite fortunate in our site assignment along one of the main drags, which, frankly, helped a lot compared to some of those in the back rows. Fortunately, we were able to lock in the same site for next year by paying in advance. We suffered a bit for our success: the no-see-ums were quite bad. Next year we will be better prepared.
In February we participated in the Stock Island Botanical Gardenfest for the second year in a row. The event organizers appear to have done more advertising, improved the people flow, moved all the vendors to a nicer area, added a second live music stage, and arranged to have more food options for the attendees. All this meant we did nearly three times the sales this year compared to last time.
While working at the previously mentioned Big Pine Key Nautical Expo someone associated with the Boondocks restaurant on Ramrod Key let us know about a series of events with potential vendor participation in the coming months. We skipped on the Spanish Festival, but made some inquiries about the late February Habitat for Humanity Island Grass Music Festival, and were encouraged to come set up with no vendor fee at all. Turns out vendors were a bit of an afterthought for this event, and we were the only ones! We had a great time, had delicious food, craft beer, live music all day, and one a few silent auctions as well. Oh yeah, we sold like crazy most of the day.
Encouraged by our success at these seasonal events, Rose found yet another one via facebook: The Key West Preschool Co-op annual fun fair. Despite the short notice, event organizers fit us in with no issues, and Rose worked to bulk up the kid oriented items on our tables, all of which resulted in yet another great sales day.
So that’s it for Key West markets, and also the last Key West specific post until next year. During our 13 week stay we participated in eight events, two of which were two days long, and sold a bit on the side to Sigsbee campers. Quite a successful winter for us.