Rain, fog and gloom... but Happy Bulge was the bright spot in Calgary!
We've only attended a few Pride events so we don't always know what to expect. Sometimes we have a full tent with electricity and other times we have a table on the ground that we have to set up ourselves. Plus, sometimes the festival's marketplace runs an entire weekend or in the case of Calgary, only one day.
Because of the scheduling, we debated about setting up shop at their Pride event. It was only about seven hours on a Sunday. But that Sunday was part of the Labour Day long weekend so we thought there would be a good turnout... if the weather was decent.
Rather than booking a hotel and shipping boxes of product, we opted to book flights the morning of, and then leave Calgary the same night. It meant the day would be incredibly long but we didn't have confidence the sales would justify the expense of airfare, hotel and the cost of booking the Pride booth. Either way, it was a gamble and we were up for the challenge.
The flight at 5 a.m. got us to Calgary a little after 7 a.m. local time. The fog was ridiculous. We couldn't see the airport terminal when we landed. At the time we didn't know that it was rainy, cold and gloomy. Oh shit, that would impact foot traffic coming to an outdoor event, right?
Going from the airport to the park where the Pride marketplace happened, puddles were all around the field -- including underneath our canopy. We had a covered tent which was helpful but had to cut up garbage bags to use as flooring to avoid standing in water all day.
Other vendors were concerned the weather would hurt attendance. It was a wait-and-see attitude until the parade ended and the crowd made its way to the island where we were set up.
Things seemed positive when we sold a T-shirt almost an hour before the marketplace officially opened. Someone wandering through with their daughter made a purchase. OK, this could be a good day! The next hour and a half was nothing. Nadda. Zilch. Squat. Nothing.
Had we made a mistake? Was this a huge waste of money? Time will tell.
After very little foot traffic came through the marketplace, the weather slightly improved and people started passing by. They avoided the field for obvious reasons but as things started to dry up they had the courage to visit our booth and browse. Thankfully, they started to buy!
As the afternoon rolled on, people came in droves. We had a lineup to purchase T-shirts. Again, the biggies were "Kiss whoever the fuck you want" and "I'm not sorry about your fragile masculinity" T-shirts. The swimsuits were also a big hit. We've always had women intrigued at the idea of getting their men into the skin-tight swimwear but this time we took it to the next level: we encouraged the guys to try on stuff for all of us to see. And they did. And they bought it, too!
People were eager to come by and strip down to pose for pictures (in the cold Calgary weather, no less). We've had it from the gay crowd in each city but it was refreshing to see the straight guys get in on the fun and have no hangups about being the centre of attention.
Even though the weather was, well, frankly, shit, it was an awesome turnout and Happy Bulge was once again a hit at Pride. In fact, the checked bag brought onto the plane was empty on the way back. It was full when the day started.
As we packed up the booth and Uber'ed back to the airport (that was the only time the sun came out all day!), we reflected on the success that was Happy Bulge at Calgary's Pride marketplace. Things were looking grim for the first couple of hours but it picked up and made it worth the trip.
Where to next?