In fall of 2010, we launched LooHoo Wool Dryer Balls. It was a leap of faith but I believed in the product. A few years later we signed up for a small show that focused on home improvement and craft vendors. I thought, if I could just get out there and tell more people about LooHoos and how they rid laundry of toxic chemicals and reduce drying time, people would love our wool balls.
The sales, unfortunately, were underwhelming. But I didn’t give up.
The following year we heard about another promising fair and decided to give it a go. My husband and I packed our cars full of LooHoos and headed to Unity, a small rural town in Maine about an hour north of us. The Common Ground Country Fair, an annual celebration of innovative, earth-friendly vendors, was the breath of support I needed.
We returned to Common Ground the next year and our following grew. Then COVID-19 hit.
I remember telling our pre-teen son the fair was cancelled. He was heartbroken. Graham enjoyed the freedom of roaming the grounds of this special place for three days. We missed the connection with vendors and customers—the conversations and laundry confessions especially.
After two years without the momentum at Common Ground, we were excited to return last month.
The fair was everything I had missed and more. This time of year is spectacular though Maine’s fall can be unpredictable. Some Common Grounds have been very hot while others enjoyed crisp mornings and beautifully cool afternoons. The vendors are always the highlight. So many incredible Maine companies attend and it’s wonderful to connect with them, hear about their humble beginnings and draw off their knowledge and enthusiasm.
Just as energizing are those who attend, seeking sustainable living and open to learning new ways to tread lighter on the earth. Some who stopped by our booth shared they were missing a LooHoo or two and had no idea where they had gone. One customer said her pets took her LooHoos for their own, while another had only half a dryer ball left from her pack. A half!
Another great conversation centered on our new laundry bags. As soon as we listed the many uses for the bags, the stories poured in. One said she uses an old plastic grocery bag to store dirty laundry, while another ties soiled underwear in a knot to keep them separate from clean laundry. Everyone was thrilled at the idea of our beautiful bags.
This year we stopped by our own favorite vendors, including Scout + Bean. Lauren Beveridge’s spirit is incredible, and her handmade rope bowls and baskets are stunning. Padmani offers absolutely beautiful yoga and meditation floor pillows—you can’t help but smile when you see them.
Pre-pandemic we were up to about a dozen fairs annually. In the last year, we’ve happily scaled back to half that number and we predict next year will be the same though we’re always looking for new shows and the energy they bring. Yes, we’re there to sell our product but we also enjoy gathering in a place that shares the same vision, values, mission and belief that choosing locally crafted is always better.
While they may not be the main attraction, the animals at Common Ground turn our focus to country living. The sheep dog demos are always fun and my husband, Scott, loves watching the horse help plow the fields.
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