Typically, during this time of the year, I do a lot of vendor events with my Trades of Hope business. It is a great way to introduce people to the mission of TOH and the stories of our artisans. Many people are shopping for Christmas gifts, so I usually do really well at those types of events. The minute I tell people who walk up to my tables that everything is handmade by women around the world rising out of poverty and human trafficking, they are instantly intrigued. I can see their heartstrings being pulled as I continue to tell them the stories behind each piece they pick up. Many of them are so moved that they are compelled to shop with me. I love it when someone is so touched by the mission that they call others over to have a look at the beautiful work our artisans do. Each sell I make means that a woman is able to keep and feed her babies. It is all about spreading HOPE and changing the world. Sadly, though, COVID has thrown a wrench in that this year, and many of the events I normally do have been canceled. I had all but given up on the fact that it just wasn’t going to happen this year, and I was pretty bummed. When an opportunity to do a 3-week event arose, I jumped on it. I applied and was almost instantly accepted to be a vendor. It is actually a Farmer’s Market that they turn into sort of a Holiday Market for 3 Saturdays each December. They have their typical food/produce vendors, but they add several other vendors to allow people to do holiday shopping while also getting their fresh produce and baked goods. I had never done anything quite like it before and wasn’t really sure what to expect. They made it very clear that they would be following strict social distancing guidelines, and everyone had to wear a mask. Plus, the event is outside which helps to minimize exposure. I felt pretty comfortable that it was safe to participate…at least on the COVID front.
My husband and I arrived pretty early last Saturday for the first day of the event. We were told where to set up and began unloading our car. We were told to unload everything and then move the car before beginning to set anything up. Before my husband could park the car and get back over to me, I had to rush and move things so the person next to me could set her tent up. It was insane! They expected us to be set up in like 2 minutes, which is near impossible. Anyway, I had planned for it to be really cold, but I did not plan for the 30-50 mph wind gusts. My husband usually gets me set up for these events and then leaves until it is time to take down and go home. He couldn’t leave me this time because the wind was so bad. Despite him really anchoring my tent down, we were terrified it was going to blow away any second. The sides of my tent were blowing so hard that they were actually moving my tables and knocking stuff over left and right. It was miserable. We did have a few periods where the wind would die down, but for the most part, it was a constant battle. We were not supposed to break down our displays until the event ended at 1:00, but at around 12:00 the wind picked up so bad that we just couldn’t maintain anymore. Our tent was pretty much the only one still standing at that point because it was so well anchored, but we were barely keeping it down at that point. After a few big gusts too many, we decided we better take it down before it snapped loose and broke. I immediately started pulling down all my stuff and boxing it up because I knew once the tent was down, everything would go flying. At that point I didn’t care that we were packing up early. I didn’t want to break or lose anything so I was just throwing stuff in boxes at fast as I could while another guy helped hold down our tent so my husband took down all the sides in preparation for bringing the whole thing down. Necklaces were getting tangled, and there was no rhyme or reason to how I was boxing it up. I just wanted it all down as soon as possible.
As I was throwing things in boxes, my husband was rushing to get the tent down as fast as he could. I really wasn’t paying attention to what he was doing since I was so focused on my task. In my head, he had already pulled the tent down. In reality, he had only taken down my sign and the sides of the tent. I was bending down to put stuff in a box as he yelled that he was running to the car to grab the bag that the tent goes in. Keep in mind, I thought it was already down. The next thing I knew, I was flat on the ground with a table on top of me. One of my tables had blown up, smacked me in the head, and ended up on top of me. It all happened so fast, that I was kind of stunned for a few seconds. I didn’t know what had really happened. I crawled out from under the table to see my husband running towards me as he saw it all play out. He immediately asked if I was ok. I quickly said that I was and started grabbing things that were blowing away. My money box with all the cash in it had blown up with the table somehow. I don’t even think it was on the table to begin with, but who knows in all the chaos? Anyway, somehow it got unlocked and opened and money was flying everywhere. I was trying to grab it all as the people next to me helped. I had no clue that my tent had still been up and was actually flying down the street as my husband and a few other men chased after it. Apparently, the tent snapped loose from the stakes holding it down, and in its wake, it flipped the table onto me as it flew away. Then it slammed into the ribs of the guy in the space next to me before continuing down the street. Thankfully, he was very nice about it, but I felt so bad. It was a complete nightmare! I am so glad that my husband had decided to stay the whole time because I don’t know what I would have done if I had been there by myself.
Despite getting hit in the head with the table, I only had a minor headache. I am so glad that I was bending down at the very second it all happened, or I could have been hurt really bad. I am terrified of going back and doing it all again this Saturday and next but I am not going to let the wind stop me. My husband and I have been keeping a very close watch on the forecast. Right now, it is predicted to be significantly warmer this weekend with 10-15 mph winds. While we would prefer little to no winds, that is much better than 30-50 mph gusts. Even though the day was difficult, I was still able to spread HOPE to a ton of people and did pretty well considering the terrible weather. I am hopeful that it will go even better this week as long as the winds stay down. When I said earlier this week that the hits kept on coming, this was one of the hits I was talking about. I literally got knocked down! Yep, that old song just went through my head too. “I get knocked down, but I get up again. You’re never going to keep me down!” It may be a silly song, but it’s the truth! I got back up again and will continue to spread HOPE everywhere I go no matter what gets thrown at me! That’s all we can do right? Whenever something or someone throws punches at us, we simply need to get back up again and keep going. Don’t let anything hold you back or keep you from moving forward!