By Bonnie Wonders–Trent
Several years ago, I started making dog collars and scarves in my spare time. Back then, my “spare time” consisted of allowing myself a handful of hours each week in the craft room. The scarves that I make are, for the most part, extremely colorful. I search high and low for the perfect fabrics that really grab attention. I will admit that I am a glitter freak. If it sparkles and shines, I’ve gotta use it.
As I started selling my creations in the grooming shop, I realized that they were quite popular, and I found myself devoting more and more of that “spare time” to my crafting. I went from that handful of hours a week to probably 20 or so. This progressed nicely, and I had to enlist my husband to make racks on which to display my wares. His rack ideas were so good that I found I could easily move them about. I then decided to try attending some craft shows in the area with my goods, and it really took off.
One thing led to another, and those 20 hours has now blossomed into WAY more than 40 hours a week. I’m in that craft room till 1:00 AM on many a night, and my weekends in the winter are spent there pretty much entirely. My husband has had to take over the housework, the cooking, and pretty much everything else around our home. His “retirement” isn’t exactly what he pictured it to be. He slides my meals to me across the sewing table, and I wolf down whatever it is he has dutifully prepared. He’s gotten pretty good at it. Sometimes I don’t see him for a few days at a time, it seems. Every now and then, I stop what I’m doing to go out into the living room and check to make sure that I still recognize him. Between the grooming shop and my “hobby,” I spend an extraordinary amount of time away from him.
Every now and then, he comes into the craft room to use the computer, and we try to talk. Our conversations are mostly limited to him saying “How do you punch in…” whatever it is that he is looking for. It never fails that I tell him how to do it, he screws it up, and I end up having to turn around and squint from across the room to try to tell him how to fix his errors. That almost never works, and it results in me having to get up to do it for him. It’s our “togetherness” time I suppose.
At any rate, my point is that I spend the entire winter making items for the events that we attend. Many are quite large, and we spend quite a few weekends at them through the Spring, Summer, and Fall.
Many times our booth setup consists of several spaces. At these events, we also take dozens of different dog treats and other items in addition to the collars and scarves. So many times, especially the elderly, people don’t know that our products are for dogs. I’ve had many people who think the elk, buffalo, and other jerky treats are for people. Then they’ll look at the stuffed bones and then at us. We are constantly telling people that our things are for dogs only. And then there are some who just don’t care.
Two years ago, a man stopped at the booth and bought two elk jerky sticks. As he started to walk away, he took a bite out of one of them. My husband pointed this out to me, and I practically flew across the table at him and said, “Sir! Those are for dogs, not people!” He looked at me, looked down at the jerky in his hand, shrugged his shoulders, and continued to eat it as he walked across the room.
Now even if it did taste good to him, you would THINK that when I told him it was for a dog, he would stop eating it. But not him. In fact, as he was walking down the other line of booths, he took the other piece of jerky and dipped it into a sample container of horseradish dip that a lady was selling. My husband and I just looked at each other in bewilderment. However, my very favorite story over our booth involved an old lady and a scarf…
At many of the shows, we see people that we recognize from prior events. Many customers will follow where we are going to be, and we’ve gotten to know quite a few by name. I had seen one elderly lady at several events in a row. She would always walk by the booth very slowly. She is a very tiny little woman—maybe 100 pounds or so. She’s always dressed very neatly, albeit a bit old fashioned. She would sometimes stop and say hello, ask how I was doing, and tell me that I had very pretty things in the booth. Other people who obviously knew her would stop sometimes and talk with her. From one of the conversations she had with another lady, I understood her to be 91. She has a tiny voice, which perfectly fits her body size. So soft spoken and demure. A very proper kind of lady, I’d say to describe her. Just a sweet little old woman.
It was about three years ago when we were at a large show, which was being held at a Masonic Temple. It was right before St. Patrick’s Day and Easter. On one of the tables, I had made a large display of the scarves, which have ties on both sides of them. It was a very eye-catching display with lots of glittering holiday scarves. The elderly woman that I had so often seen at the shows stopped in front of one of our tables. With one of her obviously arthritic fingers, she began tracing the outline of the pattern on one of the scarves. She raised her other hand, gently lifted a scarf, and let the ties on the scarf run through her fingers. She then reached over and picked up another one filled with glitter. I could tell from the look on her face that she didn’t have a clue as to what they were.
I walked over to her and bent down slightly so that I was more at her level. She couldn’t be more than four-and-a-half feet tall after all. “They’re scarves for dogs,” I told her rather quietly. “What?” she asked, cocking her head ever so slightly to one side. “It’s a scarf,” I repeated rather quietly. “You tie it around their neck, just to make them look pretty,” I explained as I picked one up.
Suddenly she looked up at me as her tiny little hand flew to her mouth, which had flown open. “OH [expletive deleted] ME!” she absolutely blurted out in a voice that, to this day, I have absolutely no idea from where it came. “I thought they were those new panties that the girls wear nowadays,” she said. When I tell you that EVERYONE in a 25-foot radius heard her clear as a bell, it’s no exaggeration. Other vendors and customers alike burst out laughing, including yours truly. Never in a million years would I have expected to hear anything like that out of this little bird-like creature. She seemed oblivious as to everyone laughing at her outburst. “I’m sorry. I don’t have a pet,” she told me, once again back in that minute little voice that I had known her for. “You have a lovely day,” she added as she turned to walk away.
To this day, I can never look at the glittered scarves and not think of that lady. I hope I’m just like her when I grow up…