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Callie Beller Diesel

Dragons think pop up shows are good!

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http://www.cbc.ca/dragonsden/blog/pop-ups-are-great-for-your-online-business

ok, so for those not familiar with "Dragon's Den" on the CBC, it's a show where different startup businesses make their pitches to a panel of experienced venture capitalists and entrepreneurs.  Once they've made their pitches, the various "dragons" on the panel decide if they want to support the startup, and to the tune of how much. "Shark Tank" in the US is a spinoff. This was on their blog, and speaks a bit about a show I do on occasion.

 

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Hi Callie what kind of popup show do you do? Would love to hear about the setup and results?

We considered a couple in Seattle but it just didn't seem right for pottery as there literally is none of the back support you get from a planned show. Literally it was just taking over a busy street corner for an afternoon and counting on just busy downtown foot traffic to provide the revenue. If I could roll in with a couple of boxes and a table maybe, but a pottery booth in that situation seemed like a stretch. The parking was in a garage a couple of streets over that they worked out a slight discount with but was still going to be $50. I don't even think restrooms were provided and load in/out sounded like a nightmare. 

 

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@Stephen the name of the show is mentioned in the article. It looks like a fairly large indoor event. I would call that a bona fide craft show. Not the same as what we call pop-up shows in the US. 

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ahh, I did read the article and came to the conclusion that the show was being done in an area and although scheduled and ongoing for that city it did lack a specific show location. Guess I read it wrong.

The Seattle pop-ups I referenced were this way in that they are organized and scheduled every year in advance with jury pools etc but the location shifts around the city and they organize 5 or 6 shows each year.

Edited by Stephen

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In my area, the “pop up” shows are very small, maybe 10 exhibitors or less, may or may not have a fixed location, between 3 and 5 hours long. They look like fun, but also like small potatoes. 

The only one I was ever interested in trying took place in the lobby of NPR headquarters, and was called “All Crafts Considered.” However, the application process was unclear and/or disorganized. I couldn’t figure it out, took that as a red flag, so I gave up on it. 

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On January 14, 2018 at 10:15 AM, Stephen said:

ahh, I did read the article and came to the conclusion that the show was being done in an area and although scheduled and ongoing for that city it did lack a specific show location. Guess I read it wrong.

No, your assumption is correct.  Calgary happens to lack inexpensive and accessible rental spaces for shows in the 50-100 vendor capacity size.  There are a few organizers that have built their brands in the area by putting together a well-curated group of craft artists, but tend to be somewhat intenerant with their venues. If your ideal venue has lots of parking, is easy to get to and is affordable to rent, in Calgary you can only have two of the things on that list. Thus, shows tend to move around a lot, getting termed "pop up."

The type of pop up is that this article is describing is just called a market by those who vend at them and attend them. They range in size from 25-80 vendors depending on the season (they're bigger at Christmas), they tend to be curated (nothing as formal as a jury) from your social media feeds and a very simple application process, and typically run anywhere from an afternoon to a Friday evening-Sunday. The booth sizes aren't that big, either. There are usually a few 10x10 booths on offer, but the bulk of the spaces are 6'x4', or 8'x4', table optional. Power isn't always offered, and they're all indoors.  Outdoor markets here are a bit of a novelty, and are not the norm. Table/booth fees vary, usually based on the reputation of the organizer. The more proven organizers charge more, and usually have more features at their shows, like food trucks, fancy booze, live music to enhance your shopping experience, etc.  They make them fun little shopping parties with all kinds of awesome handmade stuff.

Doing these types of markets can be really valuable for an artist looking to build a business, because:
-it's a good way to build awareness about you
-they're affordable
-they're easy to get into IF you have good work and can take a reasonable Instagram photo
-you can use them to build your mailing list
-and most importantly I think, you build a community of other vendors that understand what you're going through and you boost each other. 

There are a number of local businesses that now have brick and mortar locations in trendy neighbourhoods that had their start at a 6' table at Market Collective at Christmastime. Some of that was from sales, but most of it was from building the community and making friends with people. 

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On January 14, 2018 at 8:17 AM, Stephen said:

Hi Callie what kind of popup show do you do? Would love to hear about the setup and results?

We considered a couple in Seattle but it just didn't seem right for pottery as there literally is none of the back support you get from a planned show. Literally it was just taking over a busy street corner for an afternoon and counting on just busy downtown foot traffic to provide the revenue. If I could roll in with a couple of boxes and a table maybe, but a pottery booth in that situation seemed like a stretch. The parking was in a garage a couple of streets over that they worked out a slight discount with but was still going to be $50. I don't even think restrooms were provided and load in/out sounded like a nightmare. 

 

I wouldn't have done this one either. 

 

http://www.goodelephant.com/blog/the-art-festival-plan-part-1

Mea's criteria in this blog post applies to any show, if you want it to be successful. I spent a year going to shows that I wanted to apply to in my area before I tried selling anything. I spent a lot of time looking at what was being sold, who was buying it and in what quantity. Once I started doing shows, you build that community with other vendors, and you share information about which ones are good and which ones aren't. I'm picky.

Not all $50 tables are created equally, and they need to be scrutinized just as closely as you would a larger, more expensive show. 

As an example, I do about 10 Saturdays in summertime at a local farmer's market that has a daily booth price of $48. I have made darn good money there, and usually pick up several orders on top of my daily take. People are definitely looking for me there after doing it for 3 years. Usually people tell you to avoid farmers markets.  This one is different, because I know it's been running for 30+ years and has had potters selling at it for decades. People go there expecting to find pottery along with their veg. 

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No pop up shows in our non urban ,non big city, non mid city sized area.

Really only two or three outside summer shows and one winter inside show in the whole area.

Our local farmers market which has 40 years of history does not let potters or non food items in it.

There are few  small art summer venues but they are small and not well attended.

I think if you brought a Dragon it may help .

 

Edited by Mark C.

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3 hours ago, Callie Beller Diesel said:

As an example, I do about 10 Saturdays in summertime at a local farmer's market that has a daily booth price of $48. I have made darn good money there, and usually pick up several orders on top of my daily take. People are definitely looking for me there after doing it for 3 years. Usually people tell you to avoid farmers markets.  This one is different, because I know it's been running for 30+ years and has had potters selling at it for decades. People go there expecting to find pottery along with their veg. 

Agree, there is a huge difference in farmer's markets. Where I live it seems like every municipality now has a farmer's market, some running year round. I do a market in the summer, it's a "Village Market", not a farmer's market per se but there is produce there. Everything under the caption of "Make it, Bake it, Grow it", includes food vendors, artisan fermented breads, balsamic vinegars, organic meat and veg etc but the largest category is the "make it" group. The municipality allows several blocks to be closed to traffic and vendors set up along both sides of the streets, around 120 or 130 vendors with a long wait list. Over the years I've had customers from all over the world, it's very much a summer destination for both locals and those visiting the area. Fee is 84- per day and it's rare when I don't bring home 2K. This will be their 22nd year of operation.

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