I spent the day yesterday doing bone readings at a psychic fair. I was inspired by Candelo Kimbisa doing Palo readings at a psychic fair couple of weeks ago. I have worked psychic fairs before reading tarot cards, but it was many years ago – more than I care to elaborate on. I was not sure how bone reading would be received since the fairs tend to attract a rather New Age crowd. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against New Age folks, but I was concerned that the idea of divination using real animal bones might be a bit gritty for some. As it turns out my concerns were without merit. I had many people stop by to see the bones up close and I gave a good number of readings. By early afternoon I had folks waiting for a reading. I didn’t get to eat lunch till 3:00 PM.
Early on, one very elderly woman came and actually started picking pieces up from my basket lid and looking at them. She asked if it was OK as she did so! Fortunately I was raised to respect my elders and she quickly became intrigued by my antique thimble. She said she used to have a large collection of silver thimbles from Mexico. She did ask if she could photograph the thimble and I consented. She tried three times to take a photo of it but they all came out blurry. She used different settings too, to no avail. She joked that she got a good shot of the thimble’s aura. I suspect that the thimble did not want to be photographed and did not appreciate her presumptuous attitude. Needless to say I ran some Hoyt’s cologne through my bone set as soon as she left.
I had a simple set up – a 36″ square card table, a circular black table cloth, a shawl and a table runner, and my bones and reading cloth. I decorated the table with two plain glass encased candles and a pretty bowl of water. I wasn’t sure if real candles would be allowed but I brought them anyway on the chance that they would be, and I saw that other readers had candles so I fired them up. I also had my business cards and a few copies of my book on the table. I re-purposed one of my art frames and made a simple sign advertising my services. I displayed it on a fold up easel. Everything except the table and the picture frame fit easily into one small carry-on suitcase. The venue provided three chairs. Surprisingly there were folks with less decoration than me. The Tarot reader across from me just had a small table with a cloth, a banner that she hung behind her, and a desk sign that said she took credit cards. That was it. The reader next to her had a more elaborate set up, even bringing covers for the hotel conference room style chairs. I got some good ideas for decorating next time – and there will be a next time.
I sold one book and had one stolen when I stepped away for a moment. Someone told me that they told the thief that the books were not free and the thief responded that they would come back and pay. They never did. However, if they were not supposed to have it I don’t think they will get much out of it. Although I brought a few books to sell, I found that most folks were interested in getting a reading, not in learning how to do one.
One thing that I found very helpful in preparing for this event, aside from Candelo blazing the trail for me, was Valentina Burton’s book The Fortune Teller’s Guide to Success. This book is full of tips for reading at various types of venues, from reading at parties and fairs to setting up your own office as a professional reader. There are also interviews with successful professional readers who work in different environments.
Pricing – I gave a discount to keep my prices in line with the other readers who were advertised as being at the fair. When I got there I saw that some readers were charging a higher price per 15 minute reading so next time I will charge my full price.
Food – I brought some fruit to snack on figuring that I would be able to pick up something fast at the fair. As it turns out I had to eat at the restaurant next door to the venue. This took more time than I would have liked at a peak time in the customer flow through the fair. Next time I will bring a sandwich or two and grab a quick bite outside the venue. There was a nice courtyard with tables and chairs that would have been perfect for this.
Decorating – I covered this above, but next time I will be a little more elaborate in my table decorations and I may have a banner made as well.
Equipment – I thought about buying an inexpensive, pretty rug and doing my readings from the floor like I do at home, but in the end I decided to get a table. As it turned out that was the right choice because many of the clientele at the fair were middle aged and older. Some customers had canes and walkers and I don’t think that they would have been able to sit on the floor even with ample cushions.
Location – I had a good spot located where you pretty much had to walk by me on the way in or the way out of the fair. I was on the end so there was more privacy than I would have had in between two other cubicles. The only complaint I have was that I was across from a crystal merchant who had singing bowls that she demonstrated from time to time. They were loud enough so that you could hear them no matter where you were in the room as it was not a large room, but I was close to ground zero. I had to move in closer to my client when she rang them but I could still be heard and she only did it a few times.
Costs – I thought that the booth was rather expensive given what readers advertised that they were charging, and I was concerned about recovering my costs. This turned out not to be a problem even though I gave a discount.
Timing – I left home early to give myself plenty of time to get set up and be ready when the doors opened. Old timers knew that Sunday morning many folks were in church and that things would not pick up till afternoon. Several were still bringing things in and setting up at the official opening time and since the customers were thin most of the morning, I doubt that it hurt their sales much if at all. Now that I know how long it takes for me to set up (about 15 minutes), I can leave home a little later and not be so worried about being late.
Overall I found this to be an enjoyable, worthwhile experience. I love doing readings anyway, and I think that I may have picked up some new customers. I gave out a lot of cards and I was able to meet some other readers who I am sure that I will see again. Some of the readers did this for a living, following this venue as it travels up and down the coast. I had a nice email from one person I read for at the fair waiting for me when I got home, and it is always nice to get that type of feedback. This venue comes to San Diego every three months or so and I plan to work it again the next time it comes in September.