Interesting weekend. And fun. I’ve been going to arts and crafts shows for years and have always wanted to see what vending was like. Now I’ve seen it from that side and it turned out to be an interesting experience–one that I’ll be doing again as soon as I can get into one. Sales were not nearly as good as I had hoped they’d be, but apparently it’s always a crapshoot. I talked with a lot of long-time vendors who pretty much all said that it’s impossible to predict how any day of any show will go. The following are some observations. I’m not saying I’m identifying any trends or rules of vending at arts and crafts sales–I’ve only done this one weekend–but these are some things I noticed based on this one experience…
We were different. I teamed up with an artist friend of mine, Rose Sipperley, who does some incredible work. Between her abstract monotypes and expressionist images, and my digital prints and paintings, we had a pretty interesting alternative to the rest of the offerings that weekend. On Saturday, the phrase we heard a lot was “Oh… this is different.” We didn’t have handmade jewelry or crafts, and our paintings and photos were not of quaint New England scenes. My one lighthouse photo had a UFO in the corner–as did the covered bridge picture and the harbor picture. Mind you… most people loved our stuff, but that didn’t mean they were ready to buy them.
Pricing to move isn’t a guarantee. Like I said, I go to a lot of these kind of festivals, so I know how much I’d be willing to cheerfully pay for certain things, so I priced accordingly. I priced to move. Ah well. maybe it was the subject matter.
The two most popular prints were a.) a beautiful sunset scene photographed by Margaret and b.) a guy getting pushed off a cliff lovingly rendered in watercolor. What? The amber forest was also popular. As were the ducks.
Post-modern paintings are interesting, but you have to wonder… where would they hang it? Admittedly, my paintings are not the sort you see in living rooms or bedrooms. Maybe more in dance clubs or coffee shops. If they’d be in any residential location–maybe a home office or basement studio.
It’s better if you bring something to do. On Saturday, I didn’t bring anything extra to do–figuring I’d be hustling all day. Instead, I got bored at times and it made the day drag later in the day. On Sunday, I brought my art supplies and, over the course of the day, did four paintings and the day moved much more quickly.
Doing something artistic on-site makes people think you’re a real artist. Okay, Rose is a real artist. I’m just a vaguely talented amateur having my fun. But work on a painting or two while people are browsing seems to allow people to feel that maybe the stuff out for sale is real and not made in China.
An open layout is good. Our first day, we had less table space, all set up front, and it got very crowded. On day two, we added a couple of more tables and had space in the middle for people to come in and look around more.
Vendors are friendly people. Everyone was very nice, supportive, and willing to give advice and share experiences. Because there was such variety, no one really felt competitive with anyone else and everyone seemed to take pleasure in other vendors’ successes. Good people.
Get a feel for the crowd. Admittedly, our stuff was a little out there. On the second day, I moved more “traditional” prints to the front, i.e., sunsets, ferris wheels, nature prints, etc, and put the odder ones (UFOs, ghost cats, awkward birds) in back. That encouraged people to stop rather than hurry nervously along.
Will my next one be like this? Maybe? I sure hope so–but with better sales. Overall, it was a great experience. Exhausting… but great. It’s the end of the season, so aside from a Christmas event or two, I won’t be doing this again until the start of next summer, but I’m goign to start registering for these things as soon as spots become available.
How could I not?
* * *
And now it’s back to work. er… back to all of the other work.
Ready…. set…. go!