Having launched Stay Apparel Co. in October 2017, we had only four public appearances under our belt when 2018 began. Besides continuing to push online sales, we had a modest goal of averaging at least two appearances per month.
But thanks to opportunities that we hadn’t anticipated, we got ahead of our projected pace in April and really took off in June. On the strength of a 13-week run at Market on Chocolate in Hershey, we achieved our goal by August.
And with a flurry of activity in December, including three dates when we were in two places at the same time, we participated in 47 events across 48 dates during the year.
We regularly attended the Harrisburg Flea, York Flea and Creatively Lancaster and even helped to start a makers market at the Cocoa Beanery in Hershey. On a brilliant first day of fall, we debuted at Pop Up Avenue in State College.
The stops were many and varied. We set up shop in Strawberry Square in Harrisburg and Central Market in York. We pitched our blue big top in the middle of Cocoa Avenue during Artfest in Hershey and in the westbound lane of the Columbia-Wrightsville Bridge for the Bridge Bust that overlooked the Susquehanna River.
We sold tees on the concourse at Clipper Magazine Stadium in Lancaster and at ice level of Hersheypark Arena. We brought our wheeled mannequin, purchased at a closing Bon-Ton in Camp Hill, to three Creatively Lancaster shows held on consecutive Saturdays within a closed Bon-Ton at Park City Center.
We had a few clunker shows in terms of sales, but then again, too few to mention. After all, every show, no matter how much or how little business we did, presented an opportunity to get Stay in front of people.
We take a long-term view of customer relations. We know that just because someone doesn’t buy from us today doesn’t mean they won’t on another day.
I was vividly reminded of this at the York Flea on Dec. 1 when a man (with his wife and daughter) who had braved the rain that ultimately cut short that event told me that he had seen Stay at the Bridge Bust on Oct. 6. He had regretted not buying from us then, he said, and came to the York Flea specifically to see us. He purchased two tees and earned my eternal gratitude.
Our big takeaway from 2018 is that people are intrigued by the Stay name — “So what does Stay mean?” someone invariably asks — our products and our vibe.
We feel like we’re on to something, whether it’s because we only sell U.S.-made products, or because of our cool designs, or because we deliver great customer service. It’s difficult to pinpoint, but we’re unwavering in our commitment to all three.
Thank you to everyone who contributed to a fun, busy and successful first full year. We are eager to do even more in 2019.
We resolve to work even harder to earn repeat business and to welcome new faces, literally and figuratively, into the Stay tent.
Years ago, I coordinated a visit to Harrisburg by former Philadelphia Phillies star Tug McGraw. Even though he spilled a beer on my pant leg and didn’t apologize, I enjoyed the guy. In a TV interview, someone asked why he was at what was then RiverSide Stadium.
“If there’s a baseball game, the Tugger wants to be there,” the Tugger said.
Likewise, if someone invites Stay to set up a table or tent, we’ll make every effort to be there.
We have a pretty good idea where we want to be in 2019, but we’re entirely open to additional opportunities. If you have suggestions, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the meantime, we’re looking forward to our first appearance in the new year: Jan. 5 at the Harrisburg Flea, when we’ll debut a new design on our first women’s cut and children’s tees.