What's It Like to Be a Vendor at Penelope Lane?

The Penelope Lane Boutique has been around since 2010 and in just a short time has gained a very loyal following in the Orange County area... so much so it moved into a bigger space in Long Beach (technically not in OC, but just a little north of the border) for this past show. Because of the tight-knit vendor community they facilitate, we had not yet known anyone who had gotten in their yet. For this last show when we heard member Stacy Wong was accepted we immediately asked her to write a review! 

Q: Tell us about your shop.

A: I currently design and create “handmade wood goodness”, my own line of gifts, wood décor and customized keepsakes under the company, Stacy Wong. Many of these “little works of art” were products I couldn’t find in the market for baby gifts and nursery decor. Then several years ago, I opened up an Etsy shop to sell my products directly to customers.

My most well-known product is the “Birth Year Block,” a wood keepsake block based on the Chinese Zodiac. This modern take on the zodiac features the characteristics of the baby or person born under the animal sign and can be personalized for a lifetime keepsake.

Q: How did you hear about Penelope Lane?

A: I’m not quite sure how I found the show. I’m always researching new shows and I started following them on social media at the beginning of the year.

Q: Why did you decide to do this show and have you done it before?

A: A friend and I attended their last show in March. One of my personal “rules” is to attend a show before deciding to become a vendor. I interviewed several of the vendors at the last show and they gave the organizers and show a pretty positive review. I also observed lots Moms with babies as customers (my own target customer) as well as lots of buying happening at the show - which is always a good sign.

Q: What's the application process like?

A: Unlike other shows, the organizers of the show give priority to previous vendors and have a limited number of open spots for each show. There is a $20 application fee for first time vendors, but once accepted there are no other application fees for future shows. The show application is submitted online and the time period for submissions is very short (typically one week or so), but you will hear very shortly if you are accepted. All participants are also required to sign a paper contract when arriving at the show. Once you are accepted there is a booth fee of $135.

Q: What was the atmosphere like?

A: This show has a loyal following, and there were customers lined up to get in before the show started. The show starts earlier (9am) than most other shows I’ve done and runs until 3pm. The aisles were packed in the morning hours with Moms pushing their babies in strollers (and managing to shop too), grandmothers, and families.

The show had DIY photo backdrop for all of those “selfies” and a few handmade food vendors. Customers were engaged throughout the show by having a chance to win vendor donated raffle prizes every hour.

Q: What was the set-up like?

A: The show is held indoors and typically has about 70-80 vendors. This was the first show at a new venue, The Grand in Long Beach. The Grand is a meeting/conference/banquet facility. There were several events going in the facility at the same time, but the show was held in the large ballroom. Each vendor had an 8’x4’ space, (no walls) and the there were rows of spaces, back to back. Most vendors bought backdrops which made nice divisions between each row. We were given staggered arrival times so that made move-in a lot easier.

The organizers also had helpers for moving your stuff into the ballroom and the facility also had large, wheeled carts which were great. It was probably one of the easiest show set ups I’ve ever had. The facility also had free parking for customers as well as vendors. The organizers were quite thoughtful in planning the details of the show. They created handmade name tags and distributed treat bags (with snacks) for each vendor. They also gave vendors an opportunity to pre-order lunches for the show and had take-out menus from several local food establishments for easy ordering during the show too. 

Q: What kind of vendor would do well here or not do well here?

A: I think vendors who generally have products which would appeal to women and those with babies/kids and families would probably do well. Also, with the show’s easy set-up and tear-down logistics, this would be an ideal show for a first-timer (who doesn’t want to be overwhelmed) or an artist/crafter just beginning to start their the retail fair journey. The show definitely has more main stream vendors than other more “indie” type shows. Vendors should also have a wide range of product price points, a creative product display, and be active in social media.

Q: What should people know when considering Penelope Lane?

A: Since returning vendors are given priority for each show, there are only a limited amount of new vendors accepted each show. Shows are held four times a year – springtime, summer, fall, and holiday. Vendors should note each show’s application deadlines and apply online early. More information can be found on their blog, http://penelopelaneboutique.blogspot.com/p/become-vendor.html

Anything else? The Penelope Lane organizers, Nancy & Sarah (a mother & daughter team) have been running their shows since 2010. A number of their vendor crafters support very worthy causes including: - employing inner city youth to make their products - supporting autism research - a few vendors use the proceeds to help fund adoptions - helping a special needs child with adaptive equipment They are thrilled to be a part of these wonderful people’s lives.

Where can people find your stuff?

Etsy – www.etsy.com/shop/bysimple 
Squareup Market

Brick & Mortar Stores:
FreeHand Gallery, Los Angeles Christie, Manhattan Beach