Sunday, August 10, 2014

A Hobby a Day Keeps the Boredom Away

During the summer I like to collect hobbies. Two years ago I decided to learn the guitar. That didn't go as well as hoped due to the tendonitis in my left wrist. I have made some progress in the intervening time, but I tend to judge the amount of progress I've made based on how fast Moby runs out of the room when he sees my guitar. Cookie can't be trusted for judgment calls since she has terrible taste in music in general.
Last year I started making jewelry, admittedly a strange hobby for one entertaining a marked apathy towards ornamentation. Which is a nice way of saying I just don't care. Sometimes I even forget to look in the mirror before I leave the house. Which often explains the looks I get at the bus stop.
My mother has benefited from this new hobby, being the recipient of my first few experimental pieces. In addition to making jewelry, I decided to sell it at craft fairs and yard sales, since I'm not going to wear it. Craft fairs are kind of hit-or-miss. The most successful one to date was the Olim Craft Fair sponsored by the city of Ma'ale Adumim. The key to a successful fair is advertising. Which is one thing the city of Ma'ale Adumim has mastered. There were Godzilla sized posters plastered all over the city, at the entrance to the city, in the mall, in the local newspaper (it was a really large edition that week. Even Godzilla likes to read about local news).
The fair took place in the “Golden Age Club” building (yes, that is a euphemism for old people's clubhouse) and consisted of about 20 or so tables ranging from jewelry, to paintings, to Ethiopian fabrics, to a guy who made impressive use of popsicle sticks. They even had a table with samples of wine, cheese, and olives produced down the road in Mishor Adumim (the industrial zone outside of Ma'ale Adumim). It seems however that the city was doing the company a favor by putting out these samples and that nobody actually had any idea how one could acquire these products. This may have been the least thought out part of the fair.
My incredible luck put me directly behind the fragrant sample table. I decided to push my table over a few inches in the other direction rather than not breathe, seeing as making small talk with customers is rather difficult when you're lying unconscious on the floor. Even so, it was not far enough away from the aromatic goat products and pickled olives. They also kept stealing my customers. I could see people meandering in the direction of my table, getting distracted by free food and alcohol and immediately forgetting that they had ever been on the way to the jewelry table behind the pungent freebie stand.
Every cloud has its silver lining however. They did keep passing me samples of wine when they got bored. That almost made up for diverting my potential customers. And I did manage to do a bit of business regardless.
I have learned that any fair where there are children's activities are a no-go when it comes to jewelry. Aside from the fact that I'm forced to listen to hours on end of children's songs, the women and grandparents who come to these things are just looking for a place to dump their kids for a few hours and take an unobtrusive nap in the back while the kids are clapping and singing along. These people don't want jewelry. They just want to rest a bit after being run into the dirt by 6 year olds so that they can remember where they parked the car and where they live.
The most depressing craft fair I participated in was the craft fair that takes place in Jerusalem on Fridays in the center of town. My mother's friend Varda had talked me into selling jewelry and said she'd even help me. This is a woman who could probably sell ice to Eskimos and sand to Bedouins. I kept putting her off because of school, then finals, and this and that but I finally agreed to get in contact with the person who runs the fair and see if they had an opening.
As usual, easier said than done. I found a phone number and email address on their website for Yossi, the guy in charge, and tried calling the phone number. No answer. So I sent them an email and waited until the next week for a response, which I didn't get. Finally I tried to call the guy again, who answered and then asked if I could call him back in an hour because he was having issues with his phone or some such thing. Half an hour later I got a transliterated Hebrew text message in English letters from a different number asking me to email them. I texted back: “I did. No one answered.” A few minutes later I got another text: “Did Ze'ev answer you?”
Ze'ev? Who is Ze'ev? So I tried calling back the first number. Still no answer. I sent them another email figuring that it was probably just going to get piled up somewhere with the first email I'd sent them and that whoever was supposed to be monitoring the email account was on vacation in Turkey or Nepal.
Wonder of wonders I actually got a response to the email. Whoever it was (Yossi? Ze'ev? Itzik? Moshe?) responded that I should email them at the beginning of the week of the Friday that I wanted to sell jewelry. I was like, isn't that sort of what I just did?
None of the above was the sad part however, more just par for the course. The sad part was that on Friday, the city was practically deserted due to the “situation,” as people had taken to calling the undefined military activity and influx of rockets into the country. It was past the point of being a military operation but people were still hesitant to designate it as a war.
A few Israelis wandered over to the table to take a look, and a few young tourists from Ohio showed some interest but in the end I only sold two pairs of earrings (one pair to a fellow seller). None of the sellers fared much better and the organizers ended up collecting only a small portion of the money they usually take for a table, based on how much each seller sold. This was quite decent of them since at the other unsuccessful fairs I had been forced to pay full price for the table, whether or not anyone attended.
It probably wasn't very wise of me to finally agree to sell jewelry while there was a “situation” going on. My sense of timing is impeccable when it comes to a witty quip, but terrible when it comes to useful things such as making money. I'm not going to give up though. Mostly because the jewelry is starting to pile up in my room and pretty soon I'm going to have to move into the bathroom.

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