Updated: Sep 4, 2020
My very first vendor show took place on August 1, 2020; in Waldorf, MD. The week leading up to the show I was extremely nervous. Would I have enough inventory? Would anyone purchase any waistbeads? Fear of the unknown, had me shook. The event was incredible;. I met, and had the honor of tying so many amazing women. I was even invited back later that evening for another event at the same location.
I knew women were looking for waistbeads, but I had no idea how many. I received messages from women who couldn't make it asking when the next event would be and wondering if I had a physical location where they could come and get tied. So, now I'm thinking to myself; Do I need a space? Of course I do; that would be amazing! I started thinking about where to look for retail space. Then I got a call from my sis, Eboni. She was calling to ask how my first event went. Eboni always knows the right time to call. After debriefing her on the amazing time we (my daughters and I) had at the vendor event I ran the idea of opening a store front by her.
Her response is the reason I'm writing this blog today; or should I say one of the reasons. I'll tell you the other reason later... She suggested a mobile boutique. Eboni, YOU ARE A GENIUS. The next series of events was like an out of body experience. That night when I got home I went straight to Facebook marketplace and did a search for BIG TRUCKS! After no success whatsoever I decided to Google "FedEx Trucks". That's where I learned they are actually not "trucks" they are in fact called step vans. Armed with this new information I went back to Facebook marketplace and did a search for step vans.
I found several that I was interested in and sent messages to the owners asking if the step vans were still available.It was 10PM on a Saturday night. I was expecting to hear back from them on Monday at the earliest. That night I got a response from a gentleman in Cary, North Carolina. He actually had two step vans he was selling. I inquired about them both not knowing it was the same owner for each of them. He was extremely helpful and friendly. We messaged each other for over an hour Saturday night. He answered every single question I had. He even told me a little about himself, he had purchased the two step vans to convert into food trucks. Before he had the chance to convert them a local competitor offered to buy his food truck business. He now had these two step vans that he listed on Facebook marketplace.
He told me that one step van, we'll call that van A, was previously a SWAT vehicle and only had 38k miles. It was primarily used for surveillance and it already had a generator set up. The other step van, van B, needed a transmission and possibly some other work, and it didn't have the generator set up. Quite naturally I went with van A because I felt of the two that one needed the least amount of work. Sunday I talked a little more with the owner and made an appointment to come down and take a look at the van on Tuesday morning.
I called my uncles; Ernest and Wayne. They are both mechanics. Ernest is a retired mechanic for the MD Department of Transportation and specialized in working on large vehicles. Wayne was a mechanic for many years at a local Honda dealer before opening his own garage in his backyard. I know when you hear backyard mechanic you're probably thinking of some sort of low budget setup. NO, Wayne had a huge state of the art garage built in his backyard with car lifts and all. What I would envision to be a mechanic's dream. He is ALWAYS busy. Since Ernest retired he started working full time with Wayne. I asked them if they could accompany me to Cary, NC to take a look at and possibly purchase the step van. I wanted them to look it over and make sure I wasn't being taken advantage of.
We woke up to a tropical storm on Tuesday morning. A hurricane had passed through NC and was making its way up to us. I called Ernest every hour on Tuesday morning asking if we could leave yet. I'm sure I sounded much like a toddler on a road trip asking are we there yet. I was so excited about getting this van. Ernest told me with the amount of rain there was sure to be flooded roads along the way. I didn't want to hear any of that. I finally convinced them to leave. So instead of leaving at our originally planned time we hit the road FOUR HOURS later. By the time we made it to van location we had 30 minutes until the closest tag and title place closed. The original owner and myself would have to make it to the tag and title place to transfer the title and get temporary tags so we could drive the van home.
I got in the car with the original owner, leaving my car and my uncles with the van. They could look it over while we went to handle the paperwork.
I left out a very important part of our journey to NC. I was pulled over for speeding, if you know me then that fact isn't surprising. The importance of me telling you this will all make sense momentarily.
We arrived to the tag and title place with minutes to spare. It was located inside a mall and while we were riding around looking for it we asked a man who worked there to point us in the direction of the tag and title place. He was nice enough to get in his golf cart and drive us to the entrance. We made a mad dash to the door and made it in the nick of time. They literally locked the door behind us signaling we were the last customers of the day.
We get to the counter I've got my folder with all the necessary paperwork. The gentleman behind the desk asked for proof of insurance for the step van, which I had; and my license... I left my license in my CAR!!! When I realized I didn't have my license I played the scene over in my head. When I got pulled over I put my license and the ticket in my cup holder so I could quickly get back on the road.
There was absolutely nothing we could do. I was so upset. We drove back to Ernest and Wayne; who had finished checking out the van; and told them what happened. The original owner offered to pay for a hotel room for us for the night so we didn't have to drive all the way back to MD. We declined the offer because Wayne had to get back home. He had a dentist appointment first thing in the morning. We're going to call the entire incident a blessing in disguise. On the ride home Ernest, Wayne and myself were able to discuss in detail our true feelings about the van.
Ernest loved it had low miles. Wayne liked the fact that it has a diesel engine. I loved that it was black. Sometimes it's the simple things. There were a few mechanical issues that would need to be fixed before it could pass inspection. 1. Brakes and Rotors; 2. There were some holes in the grille; 3. The keys for the doors were missing; therefore the doors were stuck in the lock position; 4. The window was off track; and 5. The original owner had just put a brand new glass pack muffler which will not pass MD inspection. I asked them how much they thought it would cost to fix all of the issues with the van. I told them I was going to ask the original owner if he could take some money off the price of the van. Wayne said no way would he be willing to do that. Ernest said it can't hurt to try.
That night I reached out to the original owner to discuss what we talked about in the car. I was extremely nervous. I hate haggling and most importantly I hate to be haggled. So I immediately put myself in his position. Still, it didn't make financial sense for me not to ask. I told him how much they estimated the repairs would cost and without me asking he volunteered to deduct that amount off the purchase price. I was elated. I called Ernest and we were on our way back to NC at 6AM the next morning. This time we were coming back with my, new to me, 1991 Chevrolet P30 step van.
I followed Ernest up the road until we turned off to go our separate ways. I went home and he took the van straight to Wayne's garage so they could get started with the repairs.
I'm pinching myself. I still can't believe just 4 days after my very first vendor event. I am the proud owner of the future Bodied by ND Wandering Waistbead Boutique.
I almost forgot to mention the other reason I'm writing this blog. Mimi, you'll read all about Mimi soon, she encouraged me to document this journey.