This year, to keep the prices down, the event coordinators did not provide tables, chairs, and tents for participants as they have done in the past. I borrowed a tent from my work (no way was I going to bake in the sun all day). The night before the event, my mom and I lugged the tent (darn thing weights a TON) into the back yard to try and figure out how to erect it. After about 30 minutes of struggling, we got it about 1/2 way up, but could not figure out how to get it all the way up. Compounding the situation is the fact that neither of us is over 5'3", so once the tent reaches a certain height, we couldn't reach any of the contraptions on the roof. But by the then my daughter (who had been patiently observing our heroic efforts from a blanket on the grass) was over it. She erupted, and so my mother and I hurriedly packed the tent back into its bag with the hope that we could beg some other festival-goer to help us in the morning.
We arrived early at the festival to set up, both of us worried about getting the tent up. As soon as we arrived in our assigned slot, the scene unfolded like a fairy tale: 4 big strapping men can striding out of the morning mist. "Need help with that?" the leader asked. And in about 20 seconds, the tent was fully upright, and four strapping men striding off like white knights to help the next struggling bookseller. If we could have pinned favors on them or curtseyed to show our gratitude, I think we would have!
Everything was smooth sailing after that. We had constant foot traffic all day. My mom and I actually had to take lunch breaks -- one hurriedly crammed a sandwhich down the throat while the other manned the table. That's how busy we were. We sold more books and dolls than I had imagined possible. We got great feedback on our free teaching curricula and a lot of interest in our free author-visit program.
And I have to say that I am SO lucky to have such a wonderful mother. She's such a great sport. No matter how wacky my idea, she's always willing to help. And she's great at selling stuff. She grew up working in the family grocery store, where all her siblings learned the art of sales. (If you didn't sell those 10 cases of potatoes, that's what you'd be eating for the next month.)