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  Working at Shows
"The Working at Shows Forum"

kneff
kneff
03/15/09 14:37:41
Posts: 32
The Working at Shows Forum
Better include the mystique of 'good ones' and 'bad ones' in your finds. Keep track and start looking for why yours may be good and 'theirs' are bad. When you notice what the mix of products is, what sort of visitors frequent the shows, and ...don't forget the weather (have they had devastating tornadoes in the show vicinity in the past three months...), you'll at least come to understand that there are literally hundreds of variables involved. Maybe yours was good because 'they' didn't fit the venue or yours is just ok because you are an unknown and 'they' aren't...or there were 10 more of your 'kind' at the show and the attendance was down -or never supported multiples of anything...Who knows, but it is all so interesting that I just keep lovin' the whole process. The wins are precious and the losses are to be evaluated before moving on.

lagrizzly
lagrizzly
03/30/09 12:13:59
Posts: 49
Re: The Working at Shows Forum
In the present general economy we've noticed that food and jewelry sell consistently. Everything else is kind of hit-or-miss right now. We just did a show where we sold one walking stick, but made our expenses and a small profit on what we cleaned out of the sheds, back porch, and carport. The show before was suppedly arts, crafts, and plants only (nursery festival), but there were mostly resale items. We were one of six or so crafters out of around fifty or sixty vendors! We just made expenses on that one.

kneff
kneff
03/31/09 10:11:08
Posts: 32
Re: The Working at Shows Forum
Ah,yes, jewelry and food...I believe they are the sustenance of mainstream American craft shows. What is sad to see is when what is touted to be a 'festival' or 'art and craft' show actually turns into a garage sale! And, I've been to too many seasonal shows that presumably feature handcrafted, original work only to find resale decorations that naturally sell for pennies. The craftsman who actually does original decorations finds himself either trying to rationalize why his prices reflect cost of materials or gritting his teeth and smiling. This is why I prefer juried shows and shows that have proven to be consistent BUT I also look for fresh venues that I can tailor my art and craft (because I do both) around. I don't like competing with China resins when each sculpted polymer piece I make is an original- but there it is! Sadly the buyers are as much the reason as the promoters who naturally look for happy vendors and attendance numbers. I do think though, the promoter has the power (and our application fees) to advertise in a less broad-spectrum fashion than it does. Feature artists (like FNO) are a lot more interesting to read about than simply mentioning there will be... arts and crafts. The promoters are looking at capturing an audience but they are not particularly interested in where it comes from...you and I definitely are. That's why we are paying for a 'store' isn't it? We need to get out of the 'lower case' mentality and make our case for 'UPPER CASE' ORIGINALITY! When you are served nothing but hamburger you don't even know steak when you see it, right? I don't advocate elimination of the 'draws' because they have their merits, too. I would imagine most of us would(I do) actually subscribe to paying extra for an offer of individualized advertising if there was a guarantee it was done and if it were offered like table rentals on our applications. And I think there are better results for all vendors when there is even a little personalized advance notice about what will be onsite. You can do your own advertising campaigns, too- Events Calendars for yourself, mailing lists etc., but you need a business and promotions manager to do it right and who, of us can claim to be so 'big' as to manage that! Well, the resale people can, they've got 'recognition factors' going for them and bargain prices to boot! And they don't need to advertise personally. Promoters don't have to have an imbalance of vendor-types like you speak of, and shouldn't unless they really are a Garage Sale. I would never have even made expenses at your event since that Honda I talk about all the time CERTAINLY wouldn't hold what I've got in MY garage!

lagrizzly
lagrizzly
03/31/09 16:57:22
Posts: 49
Re: The Working at Shows Forum
We are leaving Friday 4/3 for the Franklin Parish Catfish Festival in Winnsboro, LA. Supposedly this festival has 4 separate sections for its vendors: juried arts & crafts with no resale allowed ($105), non-juried arts & crafts with new resale allowed ($75), garage-sale (used) type items (fee unspecified) , and commercial (fee unspecified). This is our first year on the festival circuit (4th festival this year), and we've already experienced shows advertised like this one (Arts & Crafts) with major "crossover" between arts & crafts, new resale, and garage-sale items. I get kind of bent when we pay the higher fee for juried arts & crafts to sell David's handcrafted walking sticks, only to find the stall next door is selling bedsheets and tupperware, and is included in the juried judging! What can you do but not go back the following year? By the way, the only time we clean out the sheds & take anything other than David's sticks is the local "Trade Days" shows, which are well known as garage-sale type shows. We (often mistakenly) assume that "Arts & Crafts" means just that, and take sticks only to those. Live & learn. It'll be interesting to see how this 4/4 festival goes.

quintin1
quintin1
04/11/09 00:28:44
Posts: 4
Re: The Working at Shows Forum
I think it all depends on you're product. You must have quality work.
And it shows!

natsnurture
natsnurture
04/16/09 21:39:30
Posts: 1
Re: The Working at Shows Forum
It looks like there are quite a few newbies here, so I thought I pass along some things I've learned over the years that have helped me. The question about needing your own tent - yes, you need your own. Some shows will have large circus type tents under which you can set up, but for most you will need a 10x10 white canopy with sides. You will need to weight or stake it to the ground. Don't ever infringe on your neighbor's space, not even a fraction of an inch. Most veteran crafters/artists will not be understanding about this. We want every inch we paid for, and so will you.

Next would be insurance. Get some. Your personal assets are tied to your business and your home owners insurance does not cover your business. If someone sues you, you can lose your house, your car, everything you own. For around $300 per year you can have peace of mind. It's worth every penny.

Finally, be patient. You may very well work at this business for a couple years (or more) and not show a profit. I don't want to scare anyone off here, but this is most definately not a get rich quick business. It's long hours - sometimes it pays off and sometimes you lose your shirt at a show. This is a business, and although it's sometimes tough for us creative types to treat it as such, you must. Be professional, have separate accounts for your business, if you take credit cards, get each card verified at the time sale. And again, be patient. Very few of us made money right off the bat. It takes time to learn the business, perfect your sales technique, and learn what makes a good show and what makes a bad show for you.

Hope I didn't come across as a downer. I love what I do, but I'm also pretty realistic. It's very easy to get discouraged and have expectations that are unrealistic. Eventually things fall into place. It just takes time, research, and unfortunately, money. Good luck to all!

kneff
kneff
04/18/09 07:17:17
Posts: 32
Re: The Working at Shows Forum
There's nothing negative about your advice to new or returning craftsmen-it's all true and I'm sure that's short-cut most are looking for...And it's food for thought for those who have evolved with the business. We may take for granted and ignore the subtle changes in how business is done these days and seeing the views and experiences of others 'of our kind' helps our in our resolve to upgrade or adjust. Thanks.

skinscentual
skinscentual
04/21/09 00:42:55
Posts: 1
Re: The Working at Shows Forum
Thank you natsnurture for sharing that information with us newbies. I had a post (about a month ago) about if anyone knew a good place to get insurance. It is a VERY important part of a craft business. It would only take someone tripping over your table leg in your booth for you to loose everything. Remember, when you do look for insurance, you can go to the BBB site to see what kind of rating the company has. I didn't get any responses to my post but I did find a place that was pretty reasonable. If anyone is interested just send me a note and I'll get you the contact information.

jdelaneyh
jdelaneyh
06/28/09 15:20:48
Posts: 8
Re: The Working at Shows Forum
Times have truly changed in the Art/Craft show circuit. I started doing craft shows back in the mid 90's when there were many small shows where you could more or less get a feel for the business end of it as you grew. Sometimes we did well, sometimes we barely made cost, but it was always a learning experience. We had fun and grew our small business from non-juried craft shows to juried art shows.

Life and family obligations took me elsewhere and I was away from the shows for over ten years, working a 9 to 5 in order to support my family. I put a few items in consignment shops over the years to bring in a bit of extra, but that was about it.

After Hurricane Ivan took out our little back yard glass studio with a Live Oak tree while living in the Florida Panhandle we struggled to get back on our feet. Eventually we had no choice but to relocate and attempt to start over from the bottom by trying our hand at the show circuit again.

WOW! Things have changed. The professional "Event Planners" took over and very basically priced bootstraping small businesses right out of the running. While some aspects of this are good, the price of getting started has sky rocketed. I'd always been a designer leaning towards juried shows with my original designed stained glass. Now I can't make enough with little handmade craft item to build back into my glass and more high end items. Expensive white tents, liability insurance and higher entry fees have stopped me from doing what I truly love as I struggle to survive in this economy.

I pray every day to make a few sales on Internet sites like Etsy in order to afford the costs of getting out there again. The only advise I can give to those just walking into this for the first time is to seek out the few small shows that are still out there and get you feet wet. If it is meant to be you will grow into those fancy white tent shows when you're ready.

jules397
jules397
07/07/09 00:40:14
Posts: 2
Re: The Working at Shows Forum
I am also new to the whole craft show world. I am wondering if anyone can give me any info on Tax ID #'s. Do I need to get one? How do I get one? I was told that some shows have temporary ID's. Also how do you know what you need to claim? This is where I get overwhelmed and confused. Also at most craft shows are you required to bring all your own tables and tents? Thanks for the help.

kneff
kneff
07/07/09 11:17:03
Posts: 32
Re: The Working at Shows Forum
jules397 ----All of these questions can be more easily answered if you talk to a promoter directly. Some hand out the forms you need to fill out and send in with sales tax collected at the time you check in to the show, others inform you that all responsibility for the submission of collected taxes lies with you (which is true even if they hand you a form). Some states have a special license available for retired persons whose primary income is not craft sales and municipalities may charge for a day permit or' special event permit' in addition to a state sales tax license.' If you live in another state and do x number of shows per year in that state you may have to have a Temporary ID # from that state to do business there....BUT, in any case if this is going to be an all-out regularly pursued business, you need to talk with your state department of revenue, business licensing division and apply for a business license which will perhaps require a bond and a registered business name.
Many states have an online Q and A site that will tell you what to do. Start soon, because all of this takes time. Until you have your ID# you can fill out show apps and indicate: State Business Lic Applied For - or- City of ......Applied For and then mail a photocopy( if required) or simply send them the ID# with expiration date. k.neff/ inNOVAtions Studio, Missouri

jules397
jules397
07/08/09 01:25:50
Posts: 2
Re: The Working at Shows Forum
Thank you so much for the help. Greatly appreciated.


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