Monday, June 16, 2014

Memphis Film Festival – Gathering of the Guns – A look back

After a year of  preparation, and a week of intense scurrying, our first attempt at a vendor table at a major festival has come and gone with mixed results.

Our trip started on Tuesday, with the eight-hour, 500-mile journey to Sam’s Town casino just south of Memphis.  We arrived late in the afternoon, weary from the drive, and just bummed around the casino for a bit, losing a little money in the process, before crashing for the night.

We got up early Wednesday morning to unload the truck, and set up our two tables.  We started around 9 a.m.  Ella wanted it just right, and she wasn’t satisfied until about three hours later.  After covering our tables with sheets, we did what every good Ebayer does while on vacation … we went thrifting. I was the proverbial stick in the mud due to concerns about room in the truck on the return trip, but Ella managed to find a few smaller items, and I found a few books, which I hoped that we could squeeze in the truck.

Ella worked hard to get our tables ready for customers
Wednesday night found us back on the casino floor, playing the penny slots, and taking advantage of the free drinks.  I usually give Ella one drink a year … it’s a running joke between us.  However, this year, she sampled a wide variety of “sweet” drinks. 

On Thursday morning, we were excited as we uncovered the tables, and got ready to make some money.  As I posted last week, we make our first $50 within 15 minutes en route to a $398 day.  Buyers snapped up some comic books, a few pieces of jewelry, and assorted odds and ends.  A few festival attendees also found our photo kiosk, and were delighted since the nearest place to get photos printed was in Memphis, about 30 minutes away.  By the end of the day, we were tired, but excited, and had our fingers crossed that Friday would be at least as good.

Friday dawned bright and early, and we uncovered our tables in anticipation of crowds that never developed.  Friday was very slow; we had a few customers, but most attendees stayed in the lines for the stars, and never even looked at our wares.  I was beginning to worry that we wouldn’t match Thursday’s total.  Thankfully, though, Goldilocks showed up.  Goldilocks is Buck Taylor’s wife, although we didn’t know it at the time.  Taylor, who was one of the stars at the festival, played Newly on the TV series, Gunsmoke.   Anyway, she picked up every piece of Gunsmoke merchandise that we had to the tune of $214.   Later, after we discovered who she was, she explained that Taylor had kept nothing from his Gunsmoke days, and she was attempting to find as much memorabilia about the show as possible for him. Thanks to her, we exceeded Thursday’s total, but just barely.

If Friday was slow, Saturday was dead.  With a very sparse crowd, we made all of $15.  Thankfully, the dealers had to vacate the room by 2 p.m., and everyone began packing up by noon.  By 1 p.m., I had everything loaded in the truck, and our first attempt as a festival vendor was officially over.

The grand total for the three day show was just a tad over $800, which covered our hotel room, convention registration, and gas money, with maybe a few dollars to spare. 

Was it worth the effort?  If our only goal was to make a profit, then the answer is no.  However, we probably would have attended the festival anyway, and by making it a business trip, we get to deduct expenses come tax time next year.  Plus, Ella enjoyed hobnobbing with a few of her favorite western stars, and she even won the opportunity to sit with Clu Gulager (Ryker on The Virginian and Billy the Kid on The Tall Man) and Robert Colbert (Brent Maverick) during the festival’s banquet on Saturday night.

Other stars at the show included Clint Walker, who played Cheyenne; Robert Conrad from the Wild Wild West; Taylor from Gunsmoke; and Jon Walmsley, who played Jason on The Waltons.  Walmsley also performed at the banquet on Saturday night, singing and playing the guitar.

Ella was one of the many fans seeking Robert Conrad's autograph
As a side note, I really need to find our friend Kenny’s source of luck.  Not only did he win big at the poker table, but also he became the center of attention of at least four different women, including one attractive blonde who was determined to wipe the barbecue sauce off his face at the banquet.  Way to go, Kenny.

Now, it’s time to get back to work.  Amazon and Ebay are suffering, and need massaging, and our antique mall booth needs refreshing.

I am also working on a list of lessons learned from the festival in case I want to attempt this next year.  I’ll share this list later.

Have a great week everyone.


  1. Sounds like a good time was had by all! :)

  2. Sounds like you had fun and learned all about vendors. You have the right attitude, that the show payed your way to the event. I did craft shows for years and you never knew what would sell or if you would make any money. One show under your belt and the next one will be much easier.

  3. $800 is not bad, but for a 3 day event I was hoping you would have made about $1200. Thank goodness for Goldilocks! If there was no caption under that photo of Robert Conrad, I would have never guessed in a million years that it was him. Wow, he looks so old.

    1. I was hoping for around $1000 for the three days, but c'est la vie.

  4. I agree that $800 is not bad. Maybe not as much as you hoped, but the experience you gained is priceless. Sounds like it was a fun learning experience and looks like Ella had a great time! I didn't realize that was Robert Conrad either until I read the caption. He was such a handsome man, but has certainly aged.