Hello and happy new year!
I took a step back from updating my blog for a few months due to a few big life changes that came my way towards the end of last year. It’s been a little difficult to adapt but I’m doing my best. I’m hoping that updating the blog more regularly will help me get back into the groove a bit! In that same spirit, a few months ago I had the idea to hold a swap meet for my local community. I felt that hosting an event would help drag me out of my winter blues and would give me an opportunity to reconnect with friends, as well as meet newcomers.
After shopping around at a few venues, I decided to host the swap on January 12th at Arts at the Armory in Somerville, MA. Arts at the Armory is a nonprofit committed to the creative spirit by focusing on their local community and its artists. Originally built in 1903, it’s a gorgeous space that had many of the ammenities I was looking for when choosing a location.
It’s a tall order to find a spot in or around Boston that has: a reasonable private rental fee, large enough space to accomodate us and our items, tables and rolling racks, and staff who are open minded towards alternative fashion. With their devotion to artistic expression in mind, I felt like we would be right at home in the space.
I am forever thankful to my friend Ashley for not only picking me up in Allston to get to the venue (and load in all the rolling racks… and things I was bringing for sale…) but also for streamlining the check in process! Without her, I would have been juggling load in, setting up, and checking folks in all on my own. Unfortunately, a miscommunication from the venue caused a time crunch outside of my control. I hadn’t planned on wearing a coordinate (although I would have loved to) so I was able to roll with the last minute issues that arose. Between myself, Ashley, and my coordinator, we were able to get everything ready just as our first seller was arriving.
What began as a drizzly rainy morning became an uncharacteristically warm day, about 70°F and sunny, so I couldn’t have asked for better weather! After folks started to check in and filter through the space, I was able to take a step back and see how the layout was starting to develop. People were claiming tables and spots of rolling racks, or using some of the ledges to display their items for sale and trade. A few people even brought their own wardrobe racks with them (thank you)!
I really wish I had been able to take more than one photo, but I was oscillating between hostess and seller, and making sure everyone was having a great time as much as I could. I fiddled around with the PA system provided to me and put on a lo-fi playlist through Spotify and my quite antiquated Dell laptop. Passing through the tables and racks, it was so nice to hear pockets of conversations about the venue and the music here and there, all positive. ♡
Packing up went quickly and efficiently. I was lucky to have several helpers collecting items and trash, packing up and helping take apart racks. Another event was scheduled in the eleventh hour and began their set up while we were getting ready to close up shop. The crew for that event even carried the tables down we had used, which was a HUGE relief for me!
I would have loved to have organized a luncheon after our time at the Armory was over. However, to be frank that would have been quite the undertaking for reasons mentioned above. Ideally in the future, I would host a larger event in the Performance Area (which was underneath us in the Mezzanine). There, perhaps a catered lunch could follow after sellers were packed up. Overall, for the first event we’ve hosted there, I thought it was a success!
After the event, I thanked everyone for coming and started to think about what could be changed. I had the idea to create a feedback file for guests to fill out optionally and anonymously. This was the first time I’ve tried doing this so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I kept it anonymous so people could give honest feedback. This was an excellent tool in honing in on improvements for the next swap meet (or event in general) I host! I was pretty busy running around so using a survey has helped me see the event from the attendees’ perspective. While improving things for next time, this also helped me think of updates to one of my previous posts, A Guide to Planning a Successful Lolita Meetup.
Here are a few ideas I plan on implementing for my next swap meet:
- All tables set up prior to the event starting
- Use of a few more tables, and working on reconfiguration of space/floor plan
- Check with venue for supplemental lighting or use my own
- Hold the event on a Saturday (if within budget)
- Revamping the ticket price structure
- Added signage and/or photos uploaded of where entrances/exits etc are online
- Making the event on Facebook public for visibility and so surrounding comms can more easily access information about the event
- Use of the PA/sound system more centrally than off to the side
- Full length mirrors
- Taking more photos while the event is running
- Possibly create a small map to hand out to guests
- Having a small volunteer team to help with set up/check in
- Implementing nametags instead of wristbands to help buyers/sellers find each other
- Creating an image file for guests to pre-tag their items
- Make a local food guide to make it easy for people to get food after the event is over
I’m thankful that my guests provided detailed and thorough feedback through the Google Form. I plan to continue making an optional and anonymous post-event feedback form available. Implementing a survey to improve logistics helps hone in on what could enhance the overall experience. It was also a lovely feeling to have several of the attendees tell me I did a great job hosting! I’m excited for planning another swap meet in the fall and for more events to come in 2020. What events are you currently planning for your comm? What have you hosted in the past?
Until next time,