Sunday, March 27, 2011

Craft Show Learning Curve

Wiser people than I have said to not work a show that you have not visited first. This is an often difficult piece of advice to follow when starting on the circuit. There are other, subtler lessons to learn.

Last fall I did a mediocre show at a high school about 25 minutes away, that I had never attended as a visitor. Lesson learned: try not to do a show that is off the beaten path. This school was a destination and attracted no drive-by traffic. Out in the woods may not be profitable.
Yesterday, I worked a new show again. I had been suggested to this group and was obviously flattered. They answered most of my questions well regarding advertising, other draws, size, etc. I knew the location was a good one, also in the previous high school area but on a main drag. They were going to have pony rides and bouncy houses and music and more to draw in the passer-bys. Great! We set up Friday and I 'thought' I had a great spot by the only entrance/ couldn't/wouldn't miss my tables.

Saturday came with 40degree temperatures and a nasty, constant down pour.

Cancel the horses.
Cancel the music.
Cancel the bouncy thingies.

Freeze by the exit/entrance.

The visitors were mostly either friends or family of other vendors or the organizers. I barely made back my entry fee (precisely by $1.00). Of course, it wasn't the organizers fault and I do think with cooperative weather, it might have been a grand fair. Do I venture again, next year if they ask me back?
My saddest reaction to this was not being able to sell even one piece of a friend's wonderful work, shown below. She is an amazing clay artist and I hope at the next show she will be appreciated. Visit her at Clay Art By Daresa. Her work is inspiring!

Oh, the next show? Also a new one, never attended....hmmmm, we'll see!


Daresa said...

Great article Barbra... yeah, it's a real bummer that the show didn't pan out like it should have... but unfortunately we have no control over the weather... I am feeling the weather today that you felt yesterday.. YUCK!!! And to top it off, the kids and I are missing Brad's first baseball game today too. :-( Thank you for the shout out here on your blog and for trying to sell my items yesterday. I really appreciate it and better luck to us both with the next craft show!!!

Leta Porter said...

Thanks for the post Barbra. I am giving one show that I do with some others in the summer one more try. Then will think hard if ever do again. Daresa does have great items!

Grandmother Carolyn said...

Oh, no! I was thinking about you yesterday - you and Vicki, both with shows - what a bummer that Mother Nature did not cooperate, after you've been so good to her and all, digging in her good earth, promoting flower growth...........The next one, Buttons and Daresa, the NEXT one!

Abracadebra Designs said...

Hi Barbra,
I really feel for you. I too, have only done a few shows with little luck. But I admire your persistance and positive attitued. I truely believe good things are due to come to you. - Debbie

Marguerite said...

Barbra, once again I watch you turn lemons into lemonade with a stellar article! Love it! You are so very inspiring! ..You and Daresa will BOTH do stunningly well - just keep right on going along!

WoodcotDesigns said...

Okay Ms. Barbra... time to get out the white chocolate packed full of toasted pecans and almonds and our pile of comic books... we'll put our hair in rollers... and sit around like a pair of old goofs and put this weekend behind us. How's that for a plan? I'll be over in a few minutes with 3 pounds of chocolate :>))) Faye

Rebecca said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rebecca said...

Being on both sides of this venue....let me say it's not easy on either side!! I direct a small market trying to get off the ground. It's off the beaten path too. Sometimes some of us go home after selling a lot of stuff and some of us go home with zilch not selling ONE thing! It's hard to get sellers with no customers coming, and even harder to get customers with no sellers!! You never know what factors into these days, weather, sports, economy, but I do know one thing....persistence and getting your name in front of as many people as you can will always help in the long run! Fairs, markets, spring flings, and the like are always hit or miss, but generally every bit of exposure you can give yourself helps... eventually! I've been to shows with 1000's of customers and sold nothing and I've been to shows with 50 customers and sold everything I took with me! So you just never know!! Like Carolyn says "The NEXT one......"
This time....ENJOY the chocolates and comics with Faye!!

Raige Creations said...

that atinks that the show was a bust!!Next one, just like Grandma said. :)
keep your chin up and hope the next one is tons better!

Raige Creations said...

that should have been STINKS, not atinks.........ugh

Suzanne said...

I remember going to my first (and only) show and being so happy when I made my booth fee. I didn't make much above it, but I had a wonderful time. I'm looking forward to doing better this year.

Elizabeth said...

You have my sympathy, Barbra! Add to all you said, that craft fairs have changed so much since the eighties. Then they were much rarer events, no duplication in crafts, with serious buyers. Now, myself and colleagues find that people on the whole are "just looking", even if fair is well-attended. Best regarded as a PR exercise really.
The weather is crucial unfortunately.

tenth avenue soapworks said...

I just discovered that you had a blog, Barbra! :-)

Good article--I can sympathize. I sat a craft show for hours one time and came home with $9, having spent the other $3 profit on a freshly baked kolache that the lady across from me was was the best part of my day!

Sandra's Fiberworks said...

craft shows are SO hit or miss -- I've done more than one that was a bust, and was mislead by the promoters (worst was when at a supposely all handmade items craft show I was put next to oven bakeware sold by the Home Shopping Network!!

I've stepped up my game and putting out more money for the quality shows -- no more HS, PTA or cheap Church shows. They just don't attract the right buyers for me. We'll see what happens this season!