Friday, February 5
The San Francisco International Gift Fair
We’re heading to San Francisco to buy a bunch of stuff to sell in our store at the lake this summer. A four-day-long show displaying hundreds of thousands of products is always worth the sore feet we get trying to take it all in. There are the perennial favorites, the beautiful wooden toys, the musical instruments, the fantastic puppets that are always the favorites of elementary school teachers. We’ve purchased items from India, Kenya, Poland, Tibet (Nepal, actually), Peru. Our customers love the diversity of offerings. Many long-time customers return each season to our remote wilderness store in order to see what we’ve discovered.
For us, the show is a vacation from our usual routine. Since we live in the boonies, detached from the throbbing vitality of urban life, it’s refreshing to stroll along the sidewalks of a city where we could be accosted by a homeless man who’s desperate for his next fix. Or be hit by a car running a red light. Or be drenched with the spray from a speeding bus hitting a curbside puddle.
The nighttime view from the fiftieth floor of our hotel is always memorable—an endless necklace of lights in the sky as airplanes from exotic locales approach the three major airports to the south, clogged freeways with the always-entertaining multi-car pileup (especially if one of them catches fire!), the faintly-audible horns and sirens of fire trucks and ambulances rushing to rescue a pedestrian who was dragged for a few blocks under a bus—how could you be bored?
At least once we will escape the show and head up Third Street to the SF MOMA cafe for a bowl of soup and some wonderful sourdough bread. Then duck into the art museum’s store and gloat about how we coulda bought the same elegant Danish-designed wristwatch for half of what they’re charging. Same for the cutesy little art books. It’s the deeply satisfying kind of gloat that only those who can get stuff wholesale experience. Nyah nyah.
After leaving the show we unwind and relax on the train heading home, reviewing our stack of orders. Then comes the nagging feeling that maybe, just maybe, people won’t be willing to buy the twenty Tibetan prayer wheels or the forty-eight three-legged terra cotta pigs from Chile (guaranteed to bring good luck!) or the elegant handmade wooden noisemakers from England, a big item at football (soccer) games there. But soon we get over the anxiety when we recall that it took only twenty years to sell off the last of the forty-eight solar radiometers I insisted we buy because they would sell out in mere minutes. Mere minutes per sale, that is.
Radiometer picture from Wikipedia