A few weeks after opening we were starting to get the hang of things. 99% of the people coming through the door had no problems with the way things worked now and kept their roaming, game hoarding, and close talking to a minimum. Those calling in to book big birthday parties or other large groups were sad when we told them no but seemed to understand and promised to check back soon when things were better. Plenty of people were vocal about wanting to stay safe at home but would still order games from time to time. It really felt like it was going to be all better from here on out, and whenever I get in that mind set, I start to look to see what else I can do!
Looking ahead to Christmas I knew I was going to be sorely missing having a second location. The website was doing a good job of moving stock, but there really isn’t any better way to sell board games than being face to face. This had me looking at what sort of events would actually run later this year as well as all the various markets in town, but the issue I always run into with farmer’s markets was that I do not make my own stuff. Luckily there is one market that is a public market, one which allows a % of vendors to be ‘resellers’, and after several people prompted me to check it out, I masked up and ventured out to Bountiful.
Up until then I didn’t exactly know what this place was. Buried in an industrial area on 97st and 36ave, I was surprised to find a whole new operation that had popped up which was clean, well lit and decorated. There were several bays available and no one was selling anything remotely close to what I carry so I filled out an application with the intent to primarily sell puzzles and was quickly approved.
This was the first time I had set up a permanent booth somewhere. Most of the time I do something offsite it only lasts a day or a weekend and all I care about is putting as much stuff on display as possible and making it easy to pack up. I wanted to make it feel like the permanent booth it is so I took a spin around the market to look at other people’s shelving arrangements and get some ideas. Turns out there is a friendly booth making woodworker that was more than willing to help. Walter from Prairie Creations worked with me to get the right size of shelves to fit the larger games in a surprisingly short time and by September I had a beautiful, well lit, spruce booth!
I felt a little out of place selling shiny, plastic wrapped, board games in amongst the vegetables, soaps, shampoos, pottery and other traditional farmer’s market items, but catching people’s faces light up seeing all the games and puzzles made me think it was the right place to be.
September proved to be a rather dull month. Historically it is the slowest month of the year for the cafe and COVID was not helping. While new cases were keeping steady at around ~150 a day, the curve was slowly pointing back up and everyone was getting a small, but healthy, dose of fear, and that was keeping customers at home. Despite halving our seating capacity, several weekends did not see enough customers to fill those 30 seats.
While this was disheartening, it was kind of expected. The subsidies were still coming which allowed me to keep staff employed and let the cafe operate but despite the warnings all along of a second wave, I was impatiently waiting for this whole thing to blow over. I was planning for another shutdown just in case but mostly just fretting over current numbers and trying to buy every puzzle I could order.