Monday, May 10, 2010

Arts for All Festival - a seller's viewpoint

It’s Monday. I’m looking back, trying to recuperate from the festival I participated in this weekend. It was a very depressing Friday evening, sitting around for four hours, not selling a thing. And I was a bit wary of my tent blowing over, with the gale force winds that swept through Lawton, Oklahoma. But sales picked up on Saturday, so all in all, I had a nice time.

My location was on the west end of the festival, the complete opposite of the Wine Garden. Darn it! Booth #9, out of about 90 vendors. Artists around me were a little upset, saying the nearby sidewalk was taking the flow of traffic away from the grassy set-up. And a lot of people were standing in front of the booth next to mine; another jeweler, an art teacher who knew everyone in town! Her jewelry was very nice - large Southwestern pieces with sterling and turquoise. My jewelry is a bit different - a little more quirky and ethnic. I was told there were a lot of jewelers at the festival, but didn't get a chance to walk around and visit.

I tried to keep busy, cutting and folding my little To Do books throughout the weekend. That was a mistake; nobody was interested in them. The children, who I was aiming at, were so taken with the atmosphere of the festival, they didn‘t have time to look at what I was doing. I must say, it WAS fun watching all the people!

If you’re doing a show soon and are looking for some suggestions, I have a few:

$$$ Keep at eye level with your buyers. Nobody likes talking down (or up) to others. On Saturday, I got out of my folding chair and up on my bar stool.

$$$ Have one of your best pieces in a prominent area, that will attract attention. You can talk about it when they come into your booth. For me, that's my turtle treasure necklace. I always like telling people about my love of turtles, and explain what treasure necklaces are all about.

$$$ Remember there are lots of people walking around - most are not carrying lots of cash. Keep some inexpensive items on hand. Nobody asked me if I had a credit card machine, and I took only one check. One man went and got money out of a machine, like an universal ATM, to buy his wife a necklace she saw in my booth. So find out if there's one around and where it's located.

$$$ Invest in a large banner. Your buyers will decide if they’re interested in what you sell, and it will save you a lot of heartache. People will also see your name and remember it. I heard a lot of people saying “storybeader, how interesting.” They also asked me the significance of the name, and I was able to connect with my buyers on that front.

$$$ If your state charges sales tax, don’t forget to add that to the sale price. People are accustomed to paying tax for goods, and they won’t feel bad. It’s not your fault!

$$$ Have attractive business cards to hand out. I gave away a bunch of my new two-sided cards, that I WON in a giveaway. It was meant to be - they arrived Friday evening, and have my blog and email address on them.

At the end of the show, when you’re figuring out how well you did, remember to subtract the fees from your total sales. I’ve heard that you should sell five times the amount of what you actually paid for admission into the show. Since this festival cost $210 for fees and exhibition space, I should have left with $1050. “I don’t think so!” But I did get my name out to the masses and I sold a few necklaces that I've had for over a year!

What suggestions do you have for festival artists?


Beth said...

GREAT tips! Love your new cards :)

Patch said...

Sorry to hear that it didn't went well.. but I think it's big advertisement for you.. wait to see the result from your business cards.. :D

Anitra Cameron said...

Those are great tips, Deb!

I've had some similar experiences, being at the far end from the action, and next door to someone who was selling something very similar to my China Blossoms. sigh. Still, I suppose it all averages out.

Selling percentage? I figure any shop I put my stuff in is going to take 40%. That doesn't thrill me, so I just try to do better than that at shows. 20% for a show would be AWESOME but rare, IMHO.

cindy said...

I'm glad you posted about your show. The fees there are high! I guess it was a high end art show?
The only thing I think I'm missing is a banner. Need one.

NICO Designs said...

Great tips. I like the cards and awesome they were from a giveaway!

BeadedTail said...

Great tips! Your new cards and displays look great. Sorry it didn't go as well as hoped but it sounds like it was fun and a great experience.

Linda Pruitt said...

Great tips! I do like the idea about the banner, but I don't think the name of my shop is as interesting as yours is. Oh Well. Thanks for all the ideas; I had heard the eye level thing before--but it can get tiresome standing all day -- The bar stool is a good idea!!

Fusion Art Jewelry said...

Yes, these are great tips. Sorry about the 5x, if I cover my costs and get my name out there at this early point in doing shows, then I didn't do awful.

Your costs include your tent and display items,etc... and once they are paid off from profits from any of your selling venues, and you can cover your costs of a show w/sales, especially w/jewelry, I think one has done ok. It is the WOO HOO that I'm counting on someday!

BTW, I just made a commitment to purchase little jewelry tags w/my business name on them. Something I read in the etsy newsletter that comes via my email. Silver, Copper, and Gold Colors. No one will ever be at a loss to tell someone if asked where they got the piece.

memoriesforlifescrapbooks said...

All great tips! And your setup looks great!

Splendid Little Stars said...

some great tips! Your new cards are great, too! I always heard that you want the show fee to be 10% or less of your gross.
Since I teach classes, if someone books a class (even later) because of a show, I count that in my figuring out the profits of a show. Same goes for future special orders.
There are so many shows these days, and many of the promoters are not concerned with the actual artists' goods, but only with selling booth space. I finally gave up a show I'd been doing for years, as the attendance went down. One year, there was an over abundance of jewelry.

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