IN the first ever Rocket Punch Creator Spotlight, we sit down and talk to Halley Martin, a young woman from Huntsville, AL, who had an inventive idea with her friends to help get some money for a trip to DragonCon, but did not expect what that event would turn into and how big it would become!
If you would like to listen to the audio version of the interview, or listen to Halley as a special guest on this week's episode of The Rocket Punch Cast, click one of the buttons below. You can also check out more info on the Nerd Rummage Sale on Facebook.
THE NERD RUMMAGE SALE 3.0
Come one, come all, to the next installment of Huntsville's Nerd Rummage Sale! The general theme is nerdy stuff like comic books, electronics, computers, costumes, action figures and so on!
Saturday March 12, 2016
MAKERS LOCAL 256
ROCKET PUNCH: Hello everyone, and welcome to the very first Rocket Punch Creator Spotlight! I am Seth Turner, and I am extremely excited to be joined by Halley Martin, the arranger, founder, and coordinator for the Nerd Rummage Sale! How are you today?
HALLEY MARTIN: I'm doing great! How are you?
RP: I'm doing well! So, in this series, Creator Spotlight, we are taking a look at people who are making in the Southeast United States for the geek community, or the community at large. You have been working really hard on Nerd Rummage Sale 3.0. So, to kick us off, tell us a little bit about this event. What is it? When is it? Where is it? Run us through that.
HM: Sure! The Nerd Rummage Sale 3.0, it’s 3.0 because there have already been 2 of them, it is a rummage sale. I don’t think you could have guessed that one, but this one has a special bend, with Huntsville being a big city for technology and space, we have lots of nerdy people, myself included, and many of my friends. So, we came together to sell some of our nerdier things that were lying around in our closets that might get passed over if we just had individual yard sales. We had our first one about 2 years ago, getting ready for DragonCon in Atlanta, which is a very fun event, for anyone who hasn’t heard of it. But, they do have a giant dealers’ room, full of all sorts of nerdy things that people might want to buy, and then sell later at the rummage sale. So we wanted some more money for DragonCon, me and my friends. We put together this event, and reached out to a local club or community organization called Makers Local 256. They are a hackerspace. A lot of our friends are involved in that. I’m big into hackerspaces, I’m a member of Hack Pittsburgh, in Pittsburgh, PA, and Makers’ Local said “Sure! you can have it in our lawn.” and the first one went great! We raised a lot of money, went to DragonCon, had fun, and cleaned out our closets a bit!
RP: So, the first year was to raise money for DragonCon and that trip, right?
HM: Yeah, and then it caught on and then we kept doing it!
RP: Awesome! So, you said instead of doing just a personal sale, you wanted to combine and join forces with a couple of friends and do an event, rather than just doing a yard sale or something like that. What was your thinking behind that? Why did you choose to go with a full event, instead of just a personal yard sale?
HM: Well, there was one really specific reason: I didn’t have a yard [laughs]. Some of my friends did. We’ve all, in the past year, kind of started to experience homeownership at that weird point in our lives. So, now we have yards, and garages, but back then, we were apartment dwelling, and I don’t think the apartment complex would have loved loved a giant yard sale, and not that many people would have found us. But, getting together, and having a particularly nerdy place to hold it, was kind of the magic there, and it all kind of came together.
RP: Part venue, part event, kind of came together into this “Nerd Rummage Sale”...
HM: Yeah, and it really cemented the nerdy part of it, which, I keep saying the word “nerd” lately, there’s also “geeks”, there’s also “pencil neck geeks”, I don’t know [laughs].
RP: Just all things geeky and nerdy, which is cool! So, this is your third year. How has the evolution gone? So the first year, you were a bunch of friends selling stuff. How have you grown? Have you seen growth? What has changed with it?
HM: Sure. So, it has been exponential! Our first year, we had about 150 people come through. Maybe a tenth of those were the people that I forced to come because they were friends and family. The next year, we had 250-300 people come through, and that was after Facebook said about 100 people were coming, and as of today, we have 950 people RSVP’d, so, this has skyrocketed a little bit. Im really excited! We have about 40 people coming out to sell. It’s going to use every bit of space we have, and it should be great!
RP: Cool! Do you feel that it will ever get to a breaking point to where it may get so big that you would have to bring in some type of planning, or someone to help you coordinate this? Is this just you who is doing this right now?
HM: For the most part, it is me running it. I have a couple of other friends who are helping, and of course, the shop is putting us on. But, I think we’ve hit our space limit, actually, so if we go to 4.0, and it gets as big as this one, we’ll probably have to find another venue. Which would be good. That would be fun. We would still keep some of the local organizations involved. But, we would need more space, and probably get to the point where we would need some sort of permits from the city. We're not there yet, I've looked them up, I promise. I've even looked up food safety. I even took a class on food safety to sell cookies. Oh, I’m Bureaucrat level 40 [laughs].
RP: So, as you've seen it grow exponentially, what is the most surprising challenge that you have faced, especially this year, where you are looking at close to 1000 attendees?
HM: I would say it’s been pretty easy. In the end, it’s still just a yard sale. For me, the hardest thing is finding stuff to sell at this point. Ive pretty much cleaned out all of my closets. So, I've moved on to my families’ closets.
RP: But you have new people coming in to fill out?
HM: Yea, there are a lot of new faces this time. Even then, everyone has been really nice. They've been very supportive. I've had people volunteer to make flyers for me at every sale. Everyone has been very supportive, I have really appreciated it.
RP: So, as far as getting the word out, is this basically a word-of-mouth sharing, or have you done any radio ads, any advertising at all?
HM: For the first two, I did Facebook ads, which, I felt very, very smart I managed to setup a Facebook ad, and those were actually surprisingly useful. It did bring a lot of reach from people, not necessarily in the city of Huntsville, but outside of my social networks. So, the surrounding areas, not just Madison, but Decatur, and people out there […] beyond just my people.
RP: So, what’s really neat about this, is that you’ve created something, what most people would stop at a yard sale, you’ve created an event, and now we’ve got over 1000 people to show up. For someone out there who is wanting to create, who is wanting to get a community started and kind of roll in very similar to what you have, what advice would you give to someone that is looking to expand like that?
HM: I think there is a lot you can do. I mean, you dont have to start a “Nerd Rummage Sale”, but, in all of my pursuits, scientifically or hobby-wise, I’ve found the best thing is just talking to people. A lot of people feel that, sometimes they have to protect their ideas, they need to hide them until they’re done. This is especially true in the tech world, with startups and things like that, and I think you should tell everybody about your ideas. If your idea is good, and it’s the right one for you to pursue, having more people involved is probably a good thing. It vets your idea, you’ll get people participating, people will support you. Even silly stuff, like makeup art. A lot of our friends have gotten into special effect makeup. Talk about that with anyone who wants to do it. They’ll let you mold their faces, and things like that. You’ll find support in interesting places. I say, be open, and do whatever it is that has caught your eye.
RP: Can you share with us the details of the event? Where? When? Things like that, so people can show up?
HM: Sure! This will be Saturday, March 12th. Were going to be out from 9-5, I will probably be there early and stay late. Around noon, we will have food trucks coming out, so if you want to make a day of it, there will be food available for purchase. We even have, in addition to the barbeque, I think there is a baker who is coming, and they’ll definitely be cookies from my friends. The Nerd Rummage Sale is at Makers Local 256, at 414 Stevens Ave NE, Huntsville, AL, 35801. Pretty easy to find. You can also look up Makers Local 256 on the interwebs, and they should have some information as well. They are also an organization that you can join. They do a lot of fun things, so if you are interested in hackerspaces, and you live in Huntsville or the surrounding area, they are definitely a place to start!
RP: Cool! Well, Halley, thank you so much! It was great having you here. It was great having you as the very first Rocket Punch Creator Spotlight. We think it’s great what you are doing, and best of luck for you as you have more Nerd Rummage Sales to come! Thank you so much!
HM: Thank You!
Thank you to Halley Martin for taking the time to sit down and talk to us about her awesome event! For more information about the Nerd Rummage Sale, check the links at the top of the page, and for more awesome content like this, keep coming back to Rocket Punch!