Thursday, August 1, 2013

How a craft fair changed my life.


So there is big news on the internet today. The Bazaar Bizarre Boston - a fair I have been involved with since 2005 will no longer be taking place. I was a vendor for the first time in 2005. In 2006 I became a volunteer and in 2007 I became an organizer.

Somewhere there's an email chain between Megan and Jen and I, it's full of OMGs and "I can't believe it"s and it was started after we were accepted to the 2005 Bazaar Bizarre Boston. We were screen printing and painting and sewing little things and this big, fancy, professional fair let us in. We were slightly shocked and then nothing but ego (I'm kidding, of course). It was the beginning of something huge for us. We had been in a couple smaller fairs before but this seemed like the Big Time. We were about to be little crafty fish in a big round tank with a huge skylight and we are SO SO SO excited.

The end of the BBB is heartbreaking for me. I have made and nurtured so many friendships and business relationships around an annual event that to the outside world sounded like a total snoozefest. "Craft fair? Like, in a church basement?" But it was so much more than your typical fair. Do you know that the Bazaar Bizarre was the FIRST of the 'indie craft fairs' we today know and love? Yep. 2001 was the beginning of something huge and it all started at a VFW in Somerville, Massachusetts.


Every year since 2005, my whole life/home/schedule would get turned on its head for three months. Furious making, endless emailing, constant blog-posting, unending mess-making...and then, the first or second weekend in December, with not enough sleep and bags and bins of lovingly handmade things, I would stumble my way to the Cyclorama in the south end before the sun was awake and my most favorite day of the year would happen.

I have never worked as hard as I worked getting ready for each of the the BBBs in which I participated. I hope I can muster that motivation again and channel it into my other projects.

The Bazaar Bizarre seemed to bring out the best in people. Everyone was helpful. Everyone was excited - the huge 21,000 square foot room would buzz with energy as vendors were setting up and then as soon as the wave of shoppers began to arrive, it was non-stop fun until we shut it down at 6pm. If we're being REAL here, of course there was the occasional sour grape but honestly, in so many years, I can count those incidents on two hands. The vast majority of everyone I encountered surrounding this show was so good and so kind.

Bazaar Bizarre Boston 2012

Maybe that's the thing I'm going to miss the most. Spending an insane day with some of the most wonderful people on this planet. Some people were old friends, some were internet friends who we now got to meet IN PERSON, some were brand new friends to meet the day of. Someone likened the BBB to summer camp - the excitement in the morning - getting to see friends you hadn't seen all year and then the devastating heartache at the end when you realize you won't see them til NEXT year. It was exactly like summer camp. This community is so important to me. I'm so sad I won't have a standing date with everyone each year but hopefully we'll see each other for other reasons.

And let's not forget, the BBB was also about business. I learned so much about running my own small indie handmade business by participating in this show. I talked to other artists, I talked to customers. I learned what people wanted - or didn't want. And I listened. Every show was about growing and adapting Egg-A-Go-Go so I would be even bigger and better for NEXT year's BBB. I wouldn't be where I am today as a small business without this fair. I started out selling handpainted pillows and now I'm screen printing for my Etsy shop, wholesale and consignment.

I've also watched my friends' businesses grow and change. Some people changed business names or product lines, some folks decided they wanted to just make for themselves and not for the masses, some businesses got so successful they didn't have time to do fairs anymore. We all went in different directions but the BBB was a common link that kept us all in touch - even if we were never in the same room.

BBB Meeting

What the Bazaar Bizarre Boston did for the handmade community (in and around Boston and beyond) was huge. I'm not saying what I did was huge but I know what the event meant to others was monumental. This is the part that I have been mourning the most - the loss of this important thing we made for the makers, for the artists, for the small businesses, for the gift-givers - for you maybe. I am so sad and so sorry that the BBB won't be there anymore.

I could go on. I could gush and stroll down memory lane until I'm all dried out from crying too much but let's not do that.

Thank you. All of you. If you ever vended, if you volunteered, if you shopped, if you even just applied - thank you. Thank you for changing my life and for being a part of something so big and so important.

I am incredibly proud of us all.

Time for the way-back machine... Egg-A-Go-Go's BBB tables through the ages
BLCC Bazaar Bizarre Table
Jen and I setting up in 2005 at our FIRST BBB.

Bazaar Bizarre - the BLCC table
Look at that glorious mess. Again, vending with Jen and Megan at BBB2006.

Our table
BBB2007 Egg-A-Go-Go with a little Maisonwares thrown in! - It's amazing to see the evolution of Egg-A-Go-Go through photos of my craft fair tables. This is the first year for screen printed baby onesies! And there are fewer and fewer painted pillows. Between 2006 and 2007 I REALLY stepped up my game. I mean - it was my first table all by myself!

Free stuff

Egg-A-Go-Go booth
BBB2008 - they year we were at The Castle!

Setting Up!
The venue wasn't right for us and we moved back to the Cyclorama in '09 but it was a cool space.

Sarah, and her lovely wares
BBB2009. This is Ryan's photo and the ONLY one of my table. I was a little distracted that year - it was the year I met Curtis!

BBB 2010 - egg-a-go-go

egg-a-go-go - Bazaar Bizarre Boston 2011
BBB2011 - Another one from Ryan. Maybe if I had known this would be my LAST fair as a vendor, I would have taken some more photos. :)

Bazaar Bizarre Boston 2012
BBB2012 with Dan.

Bazaar Bizarre Boston 2012


  1. This was great to read. In my circles this morning it's pretty much all any one is talking about. I will miss BBB but I'm grateful for the 12 years of awesome. That this show was completely run by a volunteer group of indie artisans is what made it tick. Whatever the reasons for stopping, the landscape has changed for all of us because of your work.

  2. Sarah- this show will always be, by far, my favorite show - except the year at the Castle were Kevin and I froze to death having our booth right in front of the door! the bbb will forever be missed. LOTS of great memories and great friends were made.

    love to all you crafty ladies

  3. sarah! This post was so heartfelt and amazing!!!! BBB was my all time favorite show - for the last few summers my heart starts aching, my hand get itchy and I know its time to get going and create something new and amazing to debut at the show. I remember how exciting it was to be accepted the first year I loved to New England and the happy dance I did around the house. And how amazing it was to meet so many amazing new england artists - and of course customers who were so supportive of the scene - and then spend some profits and trade goodies with so many amazing unique artists ( yourself included!!!!!) I am so lucky to have met you there — and hope we can hang out more IRL wince Matt and I are moving to Salem this month!