In so many ways it was a smashing success, but I lost money. It's a lot harder to sell hula hoops to cowboys than I thought it would be. Go figure!
For ten days I worked from sunup till sundown setting up my shop, teaching free workshops and giving lessons to anyone willing to give it a try. This was incredibly good for my leadership, sales, and entrepreneurial skills. I put my whole heart into the project and even when I knew I wasn't going to break even, I didn't let that drain my enthusiasm for promoting the geometric revolution. It stopped being about money for me. If paid in smiles I became a millionaire that week.
So many people are afraid to try something new, especially with strangers watching. I made it my mission to change as many minds as possible as I interacted with passers by. "Oh, I could never do that" turned into amazed laughter and smiles as I helped people understand again and again that you can do anything, if you let yourself try. What other people think doesn't matter. In fact, your willingness to attempt something that might be uncomfortable has a ripple effect on others in a crowd. You never know who you might be inspiring with your bravery.
At times I had thirty people hula hooping in the street, with hundreds of people watching. There was applause when someone I was coaching picked up waist hooping or another trick. Parents were grateful for the free activities their children enjoyed. I gave away a few hoops to children who were obsessed but whose parents wouldn't buy them one, due to financial inability or ignorance of value.
I'll never forget the two siblings whose parents brought them by every day of the Stampede to get a free lesson from me, promising to purchase some hoops on their payday. When those kids got to pick out their beautiful new hoops, their gratitude was beautiful to behold. Another little girl came by with her parents for a free lesson. She had only one leg. We taught that little one legged girl how to hula hoop and there wasn't a dry eye on the street. Moments like these are priceless.
I moved to Calgary after the Stampede was over. I did sell almost two thousand dollars worth of hoops in ten days, so I know there is a market for them here in this vibrant and large city. If the cost to rent my official Stampede tent hadn't been two grand, I would have made a profit. On one of the days, I tried street vending without the tent at a different location and made just as many sales. I could not have known in advance that street vending with no fee is feasible. I thought maybe the cops would get me in trouble. The Stampede however is such a large and alcohol-fueled event that the police were quite occupied with real crimes.
Since the Stampede I have gained some recognition for my educational work and made important contacts to further my career as a hoop maker and teacher. Calgary is a wonderful city full of opportunities, and I am happy to have completed this event as an official vendor and learned so much.