Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Is a Show for You?

Shows are as varied as artists. There are wholesale shows, high end shows, arts and crafts shows, bead shows, glass art shows - the proliferation of shows means you have to do your homework.


Yes, homework.

You're about to spend some serious time and effort to sell your goods on the road. You'll spend time preparing, creating product, designing a display, promoting your work, packing, traveling, unpacking, selling and promoting. You want to choose a venue worthy of all that work. So, research and start by reading up on all the information the promoters offer. Some questions you want answered is:

1. What is the expected attendance of the show? The more people who walk through a show, the more potential customers you'll have. Be aware, high foot traffic can mean a higher booth fee.

2. Where is the show hosted? Is it in an out of the way place? Is it in the center of town?

3. Does your work fit? If you're doing an arts and crafts show, if you have jewelry and the show is mostly home decor, you may not sell much. Or your work might not be in the price range of the most of the items for sale.

4. Talk to other artists who have worked the show you're researching. Be wary of comments made online about a show - read them but I find that most artists aren't willing to be too open simply because it's their business and they don't have to share openly. Besides, who wants to say they didn't do well?

5. If researching online, make sure the advice you follow applies to the show you're considering. For example, advice for a juried show may not apply to a small arts and crafts show for the local charity. Taking twice your inventory isn't necessary at a local show.

6. Go to the show before you buy a table. I can't stress this one enough - see what it offers you. Envision yourself at the show. Who are the customers? What kind of questions are they asking the artist? Are there other vendors like you? Is it busy? Do customers seem to be buying or are they looking? Are there imported products at the show?

I've completely ruled out some shows after researching them and deciding they were possible venues for me. Then, I went to them and realized they were not what they seemed.

Do you do research? If yes, then how has it gone for you? If no, then I'd ask the same question, how has it gone for you?


rosebud101 said...

Good ideas, Cindy. Thanks for the thoughts.

angelinabeadalina said...

I only do one show a year-- with the St. Louis lampworkers. I do it mostly so I can go see everybody and have a fun day hanging with glassy peeps. Otherwise, shows don't make sense for me for a number of reasons.

P.S. Another caveat that I learned the hard way as a newbie-- show promoters are in the business to make money, and some will offer you a "coveted" spot in their show just because they think you might have the $$$ to give them. Sorry, it's the cynic in me, but I know I wasn't ready when I got invited to a big show after less than a year of lampworking...they were trolling websites and trying to get more $$$, they didn't really choose their participants carefully.

Cindy Gimbrone said...

Thanks, Mallory! Doing some legwork is so helpful and can save you time and money.


Cindy Gimbrone said...

Hi Angie,

I agree - a show promoter has to make money just like the rest of us. So they will sugar coat to entice potential vendors. I think we as art bead makers need to look at the shows as in, what can they offer me? There are so many shows now and many are filled with cheap knock offs of the art bead world - I think we need to be choosy. And to explore other ideas for selling our work. Some shows sound good but then when you go walk the floor, you know it wouldn't make financial sense for you. I've made more money online than any show I've vended. I like going to some of them, but it doesn't always make financial sense to do it. I think the show trend has peaked and we're starting to see other ways be more effective.

$$$ly yours, :-)

Jennifer Cameron said...

Thanks for the helpful tips. I refuse to do a show unless it's indoors, the other booths will complement mine, I think the cost is justified, and I think it might result in future sales. I end up doing 1-2 shows a year. LOL!

Cindy Gimbrone said...

Hi Jennifer!

You make some very good points! Taking a look at how the other booth's complement yours is a great tip - you're seeing the show through the customer's eyes which is always good! Thinking about future sales should always be on our minds.

Thanks for sharing your tips - they're all good ones!

Thanksfully yours :-)