After visiting the Beau Chemin Farm on Saturday, my world spun 180 degrees and I was in Boston on Sunday for the Wholesale Gift Show. Shopping for the gift store is both fun and scary. A long time ago we decided that we don’t want the usual stuff you find in a campstore. So we don’t carry the mugs, t-shirts and hats that you find everywhere…like us, the whole mix is very eclectic. Sure we carry all of the necessary RV supplies and the usual assortment of toothpaste, shampoo and sunscreen but right now I’m talking about the other stuff…things you choose for friends and family and could probably live without.
Purusing the wholesale show is fun because when I buy gifts for the campground, I’m actually walking around with guests in my head. It’s also one of the rare times I spend alone with my sister because I always beg her to come along and offer a second, often restraining opinion. (Now that I think about it, part of my exhaustion at the end of the day could be due to my split conversations…those with my Sister Chris and the simultaneous ones with our summertime guests…another scary thought;)) Everything I look at goes through these filters: …is it unique? will the recipient smile? does it look more expensive than it really is? In my head you need to bring gifts home to office friends, grandchildren, pet sitters and for the Christmas stash…OR…I’ve found the gift that makes your heart sing and I want one too (and that’s a whole other catagory).
While shopping for the store I buy lots of kids toys…the ones that are under $5, provide hours of entertainment and are mostly forgotton after the ride home…but the fun is trying to decide which treasure to choose and that can take hours and many trips to the shop. In the same area I try to include better toys that offer some educational value and good memories of the trip long after you’ve headed back to the real world…things like ocean bingo and pressed flower kits.
For small gifts destined to pet sitters and office mates I try for items that brighten the world in a small way, provide a laugh and cost under $15. This year I found the coolest holographic rulers, some beautiful tiles for trivets and wall displays and handblown glass items made in Maine. My favorite find this year are kits designed by a school teacher originally from Franklin, Maine (WAY Downeast). Everything is included in the kit to make a basket, a doll, an embroidered piece, a drop spindle or a weaving. Clearly Jan (the creator) understands two things…we need great instructions and we want to have everything on hand when we start a project…and the fact that the kit sells for under $15 makes it a great bargain…either to do in the park while you’re sitting at the beach or as a gift for someone who wasn’t lucky enough to come to Searsport this summer.
If this sounds like your idea of a great job, just remember its got a definite downside. You can only choose 1/100000th of the stuff that’s on the market. Just like in the everthing else, the stuff your really want to bring home is too expensive or not appropriate. Talk about anxiety, I always worry that my taste is too funky or that my choices won’t blend nicely in the store and I’ll have to keep the stuff forever. Of course there’s the money issue. Usually I need to meet minimum orders of at least $250 for wholesale prices and believe me, before very long we’re gambling with tens of thousands of dollars…that takes my breath away just writing the words.
So when you buy something in our shop and I seem overly happy as I wrap it up in bright tissue paper and slip it into a bag that I designed…remember that you’re not just buying a souvenir, you’re confirming that my taste was good…you’d be surprised at how easily I can take everything very personally…I’ve never been very good at being detached.