Lots of my friends are at Pennsic right now, or are perhaps stuck at Troll with no hope of getting in before they starve. (Yes, even though they got there early.) It’s a bummer that I can’t go this year, so I’m going to cheer myself up by sharing some photos from Great Northeastern War. I was a merchant for the very first time!
My wife and I had agreed that I would go to GNEW this year even though I normally work for her at farmers’ markets on the weekends. (She has Celiac Disease and runs a gluten free bakery.) But as the date approached, her business had grown to a point where the opportunity cost of missing a market is pretty high. I just didn’t want to skip out on one. I decided that I would just day-trip after my Saturday market and see my friends for a few hours before coming home. Then she asked me why I didn’t just try to be a merchant there.
I really hadn’t thought of that.
It makes a certain amount of sense, though. If there are people with Celiac disease or some kind of gluten intolerance, then we might have a market with folks who can’t just buy food anywhere. And we can even sell to folks without any dietary restrictions because our stuff tastes fantastic and we try to keep our prices from going crazy. So I sent an email to the merchant coordinator and found out that several members of the staff are gluten free. Score! When a friend offered to cover my typical Saturday market for me, I was clear to attend GNEW as a merchant!
Different Dog This Time
Last time I was there, I had brought my wife and our dog Dublin. As it turns out, she hates any form of camping and he hates people he doesn’t know. They wound up going home after one night while I finished the event. This time, things were very different for us. We have a growing business and a second dog. So this time, I brought Finnea. She’s our puggle, and she’s cool with people.
I live about 40 miles from the event now, so the plan was to set up my gear on Thursday so I can sell on Friday and Saturday. Since we sell baked goods, I would have to drive back to Bath every morning to get more stuff. This called for lots of driving, but I really didn’t mind it so much. As a baker’s husband, I get up extremely early each morning and the dogs are both accustomed to doing their business at that time. I was going to be up at 4am no matter what. I’d rather get more product than just sit around in the dark with Finnea, waiting for other people to wake up.
Merchanting was a very different experience. I was stuck in the booth all day, but I still got to see my friends and the whole thing became a tax write-off. As an added bonus, Finnea finally got used to riding in the car. On the business side, we had products that people wanted whether or not they had a problem with gluten, which was fantastic. There just aren’t enough people with Celiac to support us in our area, so we have to reach out to a wider group if we want to keep going.
If your cookies taste like regular cookies instead of exploding into chalk at the first bite, then you can reel in just about anybody. And with bread that tastes like regular bread, we can supply lots of folks with sandwich fixings regardless of their health issues or lack thereof. Mostly, anyway. Some folks have some pretty specific requirements…
Overall, the event was fantastic. We had some problems, but they were mostly due to a lack of experience with being a SCA merchant and with juggling three Saturday markets. (Yep, we had three. My wife also does a market on Saturdays and our friend was covering my usual spot.) Next year we’ll have a more informed plan, so things should go much more smoothly. We’ll have more walk-around food, for example. Fighters coming off the field tend to want something that they can eat on their way back to camp, so they don’t have to be hungry until they get out of their armor.
I didn’t get as many pics as I would like, but the ones I have are in the gallery below. We can’t wait to do this again next year!