Reflections on operating at a show in the time of a pandemic

Guidelines have to be followed. Masks, sanitizer, cleaning, limited number of patrons, restructuring booth set up for distancing and to protect the leather, etc. It has been a challenge.

We’re open at the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire. We have been for a month now. It’s been…. interesting.

Let’s start with those- the challenges. Do you know how hard it is to sanitize leather? Most disinfectants and sanitizers are harmful to leather. I run the risk of the dye bleeding, leather cracking, and discolorations. We always tell me people to please touch so you can feel the texture, but this year, it is a no touch zone. We have gloves, but it isn’t the same. We experimented and found a solotion that works, but long term we’re not sure.

Selling product when you cannot try it on os not easy. We have halters, bodices, skirts, jerkins, etc that we can not have fun dressing people up. The worst part is people don’t understand the problem of trying on. We have to follow those guidelines set by CDC and the state to be open. I don’t have the luxury of running the leather through a washer or putting it out in the sun to bake. We have to let it air out once we spray it down. So, no, you cannot try it on unless you are intending to buy it.

Last weekend a family came in the booth, not properly masked and not wanting to listen. They touched everything (even after we repeatedly told them not), insisted on trying on things, and had no intention to buy. There were 5 of them, I am limited to 8 in the booth to maintain social distancing. They stayed for 30 min. To buy nothing. Please don’t tell me that I may get a future sale from them, because I pretty sure I won’t. Because of them, several pieces had to be pulled off the shelf for the weekend to “sanitize” because guidelines. And I had to turn away customers while they occupied two of us with their demands and criticism. Yes, criticism. They picked a part the product as a justification for not buyin. And it hurts.

Masks. Everyne who comes in my booth masks up. Properly. Over your nose, not on your chin, not below the nose, not hanging off one ear, not a piece of lace, yada yada. You get the idea. We have masks to give you if you don’t have yours anymore (yup, that happened too). We wear a mask, except when we are eating or drinking or when there is no one in the booth with us. We need that break. I had someone tell us, the vendors, that we shouldn’t eat or drink in front of the patrons. Seriously? If I am the only one in my booth, when am I supposed to eat or drink? I cannot disappear from my booth. We are behind the counters, appropriately distanced. When someone comes in, the mask goes on. Faire rules state you must be staionary to eat or drink as a patron, but people are doing their best to skirt that one. That does not mean your mask is off in my booth.

The flow. We had to block an entrance to the booth to maintian a clear in and out for traffic. I had to buy clear shower curtains to deter grabby hands (they still reach behind them. Sigh). We have limited the amount of product on display for purchase. That’s the hardest since many of my pieces are unique.

Manners. This is a challenge. I get you don’t want to wear a mask, practice social distancing, wash your hands constantly, not touch things, and listen. But you have to have just like I do. Why? Because I want my business to stay open. Don’t lecture me on the virus or your opinion. Ask me about the leather.

For the last month, I have felt somewhat normal. I have been creating, because we’re open. And people are coming in and buying (Not all. See above). I thank those who have stopped by to buy small things. I try not to cry every time someone thanks us for being open.

I want to stay open. So wash your damn hands, wear a mask, practice social distancing, and follow the rules.

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