We had a great day last Saturday; we went to our very first trade show as a non-profit organization.  With everything else going on, we haven’t had the time to focus on launching our website (and the other aspects of the NP) that we wanted to in October — so this show ended up being a great motivational event.  We stayed up quite late Friday night putting the finishing touches on everything, but we got it all done and it was a successful launch.  

We honestly weren’t expecting to sell a lot of items.  Our main goal was to get the word out about what we are doing and hopefully spark some interest in our projects and mission.  This we did and more!  We were happily surprised by the number of people who were really excited and supportive.  We handed out a ton of business cards and quickly ran out of all the brochures that we had printed.   And, to top it off, we ended up selling a lot more items than we expected — with additional orders for items that sold out! 

The local newspaper in Spokane ran an article on our story and the non-profit.  The article came out Saturday morning, so many people came to the fair specifically to see us.  We met a wonderful elderly woman who showed up most-determinedly at our booth with the newspaper article in her hands.  She lived in Liberia for a summer when she was younger and she and her husband housed a young Liberian man while he attended college in Spokane many years ago.  She was absolutely enthralled with what we’re doing and is excited about helping us out. 

We also met the wife of the professor who heads up the African Studies Department at Whitworth University.  He’s spent quite a lot of time in Liberia and is actually an adviser to President Ellen Sirleaf-Johnson.  We were invited us to spend some time with them and we are really excited about that specific Liberian connection.

We got a good feel for what items people are looking for.  Surprisingly, we sold more lapas than anything else.  We weren’t sure how they were going to do, but everyone loved them.  We had a lot of people very interested in the micro-loans/grants program and the vocational training.  We had to tell people that we are just starting to figure it all out — but we have some great organizations that we are excited about partnering with in Liberia to help in these areas. 

We did print up some cards with information about our first three grant opportunities.  We are helping a struggling tailor, a shoemaker and a small orphanage semi-funded by the government where the children crochet items to sell for food.  The cards were good because people were able to take several of them to pass out to friends or to pin up on bulletin boards at work.  We had someone donate two treadle sewing machines on the spot to the tailor — so now we just have to figure out if shipping them is going to be worth the cost. 

So, yes, the trade show was a great success overall and we are so glad that we went.  We did realize (after handing out so many cards and brochures) that it was important to get the website functional because of the interest generated from the show.  We’re still working on the functional part, but at least it’s presentable now.  We haven’t added any of our products yet — but if you want to take a peek, please do so.  Consider yourself warned that it’s rough, though!  The address is http://fourcornersmarket.com.  Let me know what you think. I will post it again once we have added the products and officially launched the site.

Here are some pictures from the show.  We realized late Friday night that we didn’t have a sign yet, so I got creative with some canvas material and paint.  It turned out well and was in keeping with the overall theme of our booth.  The rockin’ oil painting was made by a Liberian artist that Peter met on his trip.  The man paints with a spoon.  A SPOON.  We have a couple of paintings from him and we are going to sell prints of them for a few months and then auction off the original with all proceeds benefiting a specific project.  (Although I think I am going to keep this particular painting — I just love the vibrant colors and the feel of the scene.)



Here’s a close-up of the three postcards we printed with information about our first three grant projects.  We need to put more information about them on our website soon…

 And here’s a closer look at the inside of one of the brochures. 



 We made a photo-collage of some pictures that Peter took on his trip to Liberia.  It’s hard to see them well, but you get the idea.