After realizing that the vendor-setup hour began at 7:30 AM, I hurriedly stuffed Sam and Risa’s craft-show tent into the sidecar and drove the half-mile to Everhart Park to set up the NERDlepoint booth.
Having an excuse to use a sidecar as a pickup truck is SO INCREDIBLY AWESOME. I don’t care if I looked like a giant tool as I drove all around the park, up and down the pedestrian paths, weaving between the funnel-cake truck and the half-completed face painting tent. That made the day worth it right there.
Somewhere off to the side, my 10-year-old self was watching me weave around, looking for my alloted space: “Excuse me, portable building coming through here IN A SIDECAR. Important work that REQUIRES SPECIALIZED TRANSPORTATION right here! Oh, mister pickup truck, I see you can’t get through the gap between those two trees, so I’ll just nip through there VROOM VROOM! Yes, 10-year-olf self: it was just as much fun as you imagine. In brief, it was fan-FUCKING-tastic.
From eleven to five, I offered needlepoint patterns and hand-painted canvases so that people could stitch their own machine-readable hand embroidery. After a gloomy morning, the sun came out and the weather was BEAUTIFUL.
I spent most of the time sitting in the green chair and stitching on a canvas, so people could kind of sidle up behind me to see what I was doing. Unlike the hand-made soap booth on my right, or the avon-product-and-photograph booth on my left, I know this was NOT self-explanatory. Or even close to it. I tried hard to say “hello” to folks at the right moment: too soon, and you’re the aggressive hard-seller. Too late, and folks seem kind of disappointed, like you’re making it official that this stuff is Not For Them. In short, having a booth is hard work, and it’s surprisingly, you know, nuanced! People who do retail for a living are laughing at me now, I’m sure.
But plenty of folks wanted to know what NERDlepoint was all about, and so I explained about 1D barcodes (like at the supermarket), and then about 2D barcodes, and how they hold URLs, and if you have a cameraphone, you can scan the code and go directly to the website that matches the code:
…and then I’d show them the YouTube video with the DoCoMo ad, and let them use the Nokia n95 to shoot the big barcode on the wall that says “nerdlepoint.com”, and then explain the bit about how each canvas contains a unique proxy URL that you can control with a secret passcode included with the pattern, so that you can control where the URL goes. Or change it. Et cetera.
I was actually surprised at how nice, and genuinely interested, people were. They were confused, sure, but there really wasn’t an element of distrust or anything*. People liked the name “NERDlepoint”, and when I pulled out the iPhone they universally went “OOooooh”, and they really liked my plastic oriental carpet, and I had a really nice time talking to folks.
I sold exactly zero patterns, but that’s pretty much what I expected, and now I’ll try my luck on Etsy, with a picture of the booth as “our retail store.” And seriously, the excuse to be the guy who drives around with a BUILDING in his SIDECAR? OH, man. That was so worth it right there.
* Except for one seven-year old kid who vigorously tried to expose me as a fraud by insisting that all the canvases I was selling were not unique. So we spent some time looking at just one quadrant of each pattern until I convinced her that I was not one of those QRcode knockoff con artists.