This past weekend was the annual Bike Craft Fair in Portland. It’s a bicycle-themed take on the traditional (or truer to form, the hipster version) craft fair. It’s happened every December since 2005, and I’ve tabled every single one. It is the biggest sales-related event that I do annually.
It was mostly a fun experience. But sitting behind a table for seven hours each day and being “on” for those seven hours is a bit exhausting. Especially if you’re not getting any attention (or at least not feeling like you’re getting attention.) For me I’m on edge until I make the first sale. On Saturday it happened in the first hour, on Sunday it took almost three hours, which meant I was much more on edge for that day.
I’ve been tabling at events for almost fourteen years. My first tabling experience was at the Alternative Press Expo (APE),
an “independent” comics show in San Jose, February 1998.* I embarked a four-day roadtrip in a small car with three other people from the East Coast to get there. It was my first time on the West Coast. And it set into motion the series of events in my life that would lead me to abandon the East for the West, attempt to live in San Francisco, fail, retreat to Portland, succeed to some extent, get into bikes, create the Urban Adventure League, start this blog, go on bike tours, meet and fall and love with April, go on a really long bike tour…you get the picture.
I’ve done dozens of tabling events in those fourteen years. Some aspects of tabling get easier, while some things never get easier. I think I have an existential crisis at every tabling event, whether it be comic, zine, or bike craft, until I get that first couple sales. “Why am I here? Why am I doing this? I’m a failure.” I pretty much say that every time.
Now you might be asking yourself, “If it sucks so much, Shawn, why do you keep on doing it?” Well, because it doesn’t really suck. Overall, it’s fun and I do well. I see a lot of my friends, meet new people, and check out other cool things. Like I don’t think I can go a Bike Craft Fair without buying a new Deller hat:
Shaun Deller is a cool dude. He crafts his hats in this lovely studio somewhere in rural Columbia County:
Anyways, Sunday night after drinking free beer from the remaining kegs at Bike Craft, April and I headed up the road to the Bike. Walk. Vote.
launch party at Crank Bicycles.
Bike. Walk. Vote. is a political action wonkery type thing that works to get pro-bike, pro-pedestrian, pro-transit candidates elected to local offices. They were active a few years ago but went dormant and now are getting back into the thick of things. I went primarily because my awesome friend Steph Routh, head of the Willamette Pedestrian Coalition
is involved, and also because there was promise of free beer and food. Shawn likes free beer and food.
I didn’t really know what to expect with the event. It turned out to be more important than I thought it would be. We got there late, and there was at least 100 people while someone was talking.** I found a corner to dump my stuff and beelined for the free beer and pizza.*** While stuffing my face I said to myself, “Isn’t that Earl Blumeauer
getting up to speak?”
Earl wasn’t the only “big player” in attendance. There were also two mayoral hopefuls: Charlie Hales and Jefferson Smith. Hales was a former city commissioner in the 90’s and was famously pro-bike and pro-transit. In the bicycling scene Hales is possibly best remembered for his participation in a Critical Mass ride: at the time the cops were being very aggressive on the Mass so CM invited Hales to ride along. The cops were extreme even in front of Hales, which led Hales to tell the police to tone it down.
And somehow I found myself talking to Charlie Hales and his wife Nancy for about ten minutes. I don’t remember much about the conversation, since it was mostly my friend Evan talking. But at the beginning Nancy tells me that my rather distinctive form a dress reminds her of former mayor Bud Clark:
She was less referring to any physical resemblance, as I do not have the same St. Nick facial hair as does St. Bud (though I am trying to grow a mustache of epic proportions). More so my clothing attire. I was wearing my wool knickers (which really are the only pants I wear in winter*****) which must of reminded her of Clark’s lederhosen, ****** which Bud was fond of wearing.******* Knickers, lederhosen. You say tomato…
If there is one thing in common, both myself and Bud have been known to ride Univegas with rather large Wald front baskets:
|Circa 1989. Note Retro-Grouch behind Bud. Is it supposed to be Yehuda Moon’s dad?
Anyways, it was a good time. Then I went home and crashed, exhausted from the weekend.
Here’s a story about Bike Craft on Bikeportland.
Here’s a story on Bike Walk Vote on Bikeportland by Michael Andersen.
Here’s another story on Bike Walk Vote on the Portland Mercury blog by the S. Mirk.
*Always remember this: Before I was a bike blogger, I was a zinester/comix artist. And I am still a zinester/comix artist.
Chair of the Multomah County Board of Commisioners
***Beer from Coalition Brewery, pizza by Hot Lips
****I’ve still got a couple of those pins.
*****For our friends in the Commonwealth, replace “knickers” and “pants” with “somewhat shorter trousers” or “plus-fours”.
******For our friends in the Commonwealth, replace “lederhosen” with “lederhosen”.
*******If I find a pair that fits, you know I’ll be rocking lederhosen too.