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Renegade or Bust

September 15, 2011

So this past weekend after nearly two full months of preparation Conduit Press made its way to Chicago for the first time- well, to sell wares for the first time that is, for the Renegade Craft Fair in Wicker Park on Division St. The show was both Saturday and Sunday (Sept 10 and 11) and the weather was outstanding, even though we’d had threats of rain all week long! A dear friend who lives in what I think people used to call ‘the region’ joined me on the adventure and thank goodness, because I couldn’t have done it without her at all!

I packed the van FULL to the brim on Friday morning while the rain drizzled outside and once I put the babe down for his nap I started to make my way north. After a stop at the post office and gas station I was well on my way, or so I thought. Traffic was horrendous and I was already exhausted (how does that happen at 3 o’clock in the afternoon?) Actually, driving in the middle of the day with the sun shining always makes me drowsy. So, I finally made it to Valpo around dinner time, and I gained an hour! How exciting. B and I caught up, having not spoken to one another in quite a few months, and then went to dinner at this AWESOME place called Industrial Revolution. The decor was so . . . well, Industrial Revolution. If I was teaching the IR again, in Valpo, I would totally take my kids there on a field trip! After a filling cheesy dinner we started to plan our trip for the weekend, which of course involved getting up at 6 am and driving into the city, then fighting for a parking space which was our biggest fear. It actually all turned out ok though;)

Driving into the city is always a bit scary, especially when you have to be somewhere at a very specific time! Our load-in time was from 9-9:30 and of course we got there around 8:30. B and I are the two most on-time/early people I know, and all of my crafty friends ALWAYS make fun of me for getting to shows so early and being set up already when they get there. Sad, but true. Anyway, they actually let us in early so we unloaded the van in a hurry and B drove away to find a space to park, which turned out to be SO ideal b/c eventually the whole area where our tent was became a GIANT clusterfuck as the morning moved on. But, we got set up in plenty of time, found non-pay street parking at the end of Division and Saturday was a success. The morning was a tad bit slow, which had be discouraged at first, but I had so many compliments on my new set-up I couldn’t stay down for long. As the day waned on the streets became more packed and so did our booths! That night we packed up the wares back into the van and headed up to our hotel. I had just finished telling B how ‘mellow’ of a driver I am after having let someone out of Division as we were driving by, and then, we enter one of those 6 way intersections and I totally lost my cool. I had taxi drivers so close to my right side I thought they were going to side-swipe me, cyclists getting in the way, a car coming through the intersection the other direction when it SO wasn’t her turn, and then to top all that off, a cop came through with his sirens on. After that little interchange I was totally on edge and ready to call it a night, so, once we finally got to the hotel without a hitting someone riding their bike, we ordered in food from Fireside and called it a night. Only in Chicago can you get a six-pack of Old Style delivered to your hotel door, which btw had bullet proof glass in the lobby. I’m such a small town girl sometimes!

I’m not much of a beer drinker, at all, but B had ordered the beer so I drank one, or two, and they put me STRAIGHT to sleep, which was nice since I never sleep during a show weekend. At 6am we were up bright and early again, our intention to grab a parking space near our booth on Hermitage and not have to deal with the unload/load-in BS that was the day before. Plus, we could stay parked there afterward and grab dinner before we headed home. And our plan worked! Though, the parking lot in our hotel really wanted to slow us down. When I woke up Sunday morning our van was being blocked in by a variety of vehicles as you can see in the pic above – if you can even make sense of it. Luckily, for some reason all of these drunken men from the night before were already awake at 6 am and getting their free continental breakfast on, so when it was time for us to leave they were all gone. Thank Goodness!

So, as early birds are wont to do, we got our worm. We got a parking space about half a block from our booth on Hermitage, unloaded, zipped up the tent and headed to Alliance Bakery. B had noticed the Bakery the day before and I had read about their AMAZING chocolate croissants on our neighbor’s blog (Little Korboose). So, off we went. And boy, this breakfast definitely topped the Dunkin’ Donuts breakfast from the morning before! We ordered both a chocolate and almond croissant, a lemon and a blueberry scone, and one other breakfast pastry I can’t spell or remember its name. B ordered the Intelligentia coffee which was all the hit down on Division and I had a glass of milk in true small town girl style (don’t drink beer OR coffee). Since we got there so early we were able to sit in the cutest little outdoor patio surrounded by little birdies and wild flowers and enjoy the cool Chicago morning. Young families walked by with their babes in strollers and older foreign men met and kissed on the cheek while sharing their morning cup. It was just perfect.

Then it was time to set up again. We changed this around a tiny bit on Sunday and made some organizational choices that I should have made the day before. It definitely paid off. Sunday was my best day profit wise, and it was BUSY all day. It was much warmer than any of us would have liked, but at least it wasn’t raining!! Clocks were a sure fire hit, as were the planters. I even sold my first lamp- both the first one I made AND the first one I’ve sold. It was an exciting day. As the day wound down all the vendors started packing up shop and we all made silly faces when the ice cream man jingled his bells- though, we all thought it was the Lulu B man riding his bicycle with the baloons tied to the back in his black and white striped shirt (what a sight! I wish I had a picture! oh wait, check out this set on Flickr from the folks who run RCF)

photo courtesy of RCF

So, we packed up shop and called it a very successful weekend.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 15, 2011 11:08 am

    Sounds like a great first Chicago Renegade experience, congrats! The booth looks beautiful, isn’t it a wonder what pavement instead of bumpy grass will do! I aspire to be an early bird like you, someday ::sigh:: Oh! I saw your lamp featured the other day by Nicole Balch (Making it Lovely) on babble! Don’t know if you saw it yet or not, but it is in the fourth row of all the tiny little thumbnails, second one in! http://blogs.babble.com/family-style/2011/09/12/the-best-of-the-renegade-craft-fair-chicago-2011/?pid=4923#slideshow

    • admin permalink*
      September 15, 2011 11:22 am

      Hi Ellen! The early-bird thing is definitely both a blessing AND a curse. Yes, I get there early, but I’m also exhausted from the lack of sleep;) At least you’re well-rested? 🙂 Also, thanks so much for sharing that link, I had no idea!! How fun!

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