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nancylee

How Do You Figure Out How Much To Bring To A Show?

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Hi,

So I am applying to some shows, and if I get in, there will be a variety of crowd sizes, and also of sales, as reported on artfairinsiders.com. So how do you figure out how much to take? I do functional pottery: mugs, plates, bowls, dog bowls, and then dog bone ornaments, and wind chimes. My price point is from $12 to about $60 for the bigger bowls. It is electric kiln fired, simple and neat.

 

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated,

Best,

Nancy

 

Added on 1/21/14

 

Yikes! I applied to about 12 shows and got into about 7 of them so far. No huge shows yet, just local and mid-sized. I was wait-listed at ArtRider in NJ, which is big, and haven't heard from the Penn State show, but I'm thinking I will NOT get into that one. One of the show directors from a different show sent me an email showing me how my booth picture and object pictures should look, and I am lucky he was so nice. My pictures should have been laughed out of the jury room.

 

So down to the nuts and bolts. How much of each item should I have? At my own shop, and on etsy, I couldn't keep this one glaze combo in stock. It's very popular. So I am looking to take mugs, bowls, medium sized bowls, a few bigger bowls, salad plates and dinner plates, spoon rests, ringholders, trinket dishes and wind chimes. My mugs are $22 without a name, $25 with Mom, Dad, an initial, etc on them. I know, they are cheesy and not artsy, but they sell. People know what to do with a MOM mug. :) oh, and some canisters, and if I can get a big extruder, I would love to learn how to make butter dishes and plates, as someone told me they do.

 

Any ideas of numbers? And BTW, I make jewelry too, and the shows are all filled instantly with jewelry. Amazing! So glad I applied with pottery!

Nancy

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Never enough of the items you sell out of; too many of the items that don't sell.

 

I do local craft fairs, mostly one day and a few two day events.  My price point is similar to yours, $8 to $50, for most items.  For one day events, I bring about 5 plastic bins (32 quart sterling/Rubbermaid size) with assorted wares.  For multi-day events, add another 2 bins. I usually do a 10x10 space, with two shelving stands and one 4' table.  I try not to overwhelm the display with items, as cluttered does not make for a nice display.  I do bring more of the low end items as they seem to find buyers. 

 

A few years ago, Michael Sherrill told us at a workshop that your inventory needs to be twice the amount you hope to sell. 

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Hi,

Thanks for that information. Could you tell me, how many pieces of pottery, average, do you fit in a 32 quart bin? My mugs are a big seller. How many could I pack in one of your bins?

 

Since the holidays wiped me out of inventory, and I make a lot of custom mugs, I am trying to get a feel for how much pottery I need to make before I do a few shows. Thank you!

Nancy

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I take 8 or 9 18 gallon rubbermade-type bins to shows, plus 2-3 shorter bins full of small bowls. It usually comes out to $6,000-$7,000 worth of pots. It's about as much as I can put on display at one time. Unlike many potters, I do not restock my shelves during shows for the most part. A few small things here and there, but mostly everything I take to a show is on display from the beginning. I just can't haul any more than that. And it works for me. The booth can get a little light toward the end of a good show, but it doesn't seem to hurt sales any.

 

How much you need will depend on how much you can haul, how much you can put on display at one time, and how much you sell. I know potters who have large vans and trailers for their show stuff, and they don't outsell me just because they have more inventory. I fit everything into my Chevy Traverse, and can be on the road after a show in under an hour.

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The 32 qt container is about 23 1/2" x 16 1/2" x 6 1/2".  How many items goes in depends on size of item:  I can get 6 or so tall vases or as many as 35 to 42 ikebana pillow vases in one container.  I prefer the 32 qt to the larger plastic bins as they are easier to carry when full.  Plus, I can stack 4 bins after unloading, put on a cover cloth, and use them as a display stand.  I would imagine you could get about 18 to 24 mugs in one. 

 

My wife and I do many of the same fairs; so, I have to pack compactly as the Highlander has to carry my pottery and her rag dolls.  When I do a show alone, I tend to take an extra bin or two. 

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............. and can be on the road after a show in under an hour.

I've only done few shows, lath one a shared booth, the above statement is golden.

 

I hate the set up and take down and the group dynamic makes it worse.

 

I've even thought of hiring a local to help set up a strike.

 

Im working on ideas in my head for the booth design and shelves with a 1 hour strike. And it must fit in four door sedan. And I'd like much of the wood to double as ware boards. I have a few 4 foot ware boards now that were left overs from an I've done a small solo display 2 tables and was out in an hour but folding tables do not make efficient display...

Sorry off topic.

 

..... As much a fits and if you sell enough on first day hope your close enough to run to studio an replenish.

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Here are a couple pictures of the display stands I use.  They are quite portable and easy to set up.  As we need to pack two set-ups in our Highlander, space is at a premium and these work for me.  I bought these on Etsy and painted them a neutral gray.  I prefer a minimal set-up so the focus is on the pottery and not the display.

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post-2190-0-38359300-1386682871_thumb.jpg

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post-2190-0-61451600-1386682870_thumb.jpg

post-2190-0-38359300-1386682871_thumb.jpg

post-2190-0-88256900-1386682871_thumb.jpg

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My shelves are similar to those. The verticals are hinged together so they fold flat. And that is the key to fitting everything into your car. Wood crates look cool, but if you want to pack your pots in them you'll need to figure out some lids so they can stack. I have one standing rack, and two pairs of short racks that go on top of tables. The beauty of tables is that you can store all of your tubs and stuff under them. Lots of people store their stuff behind the booth, but that's a mess when the weather turns bad.

 

As for packing fast, you just have to be quick about how you pack the pots into the tubs. Don't individually wrap each piece. Total waste of time. Put the largest piece into the tub, then the next largest piece that fits, then the next largest, etc, with a sheet or two of thin foam padding between them. Wedge small cups and mugs and such between then so nothing rolls around. It's super fast, and I've never had anything break. Having a good variety pieces helps to get a good tight pack. I also use a pop up tent (Caravan). I know it's not as strong, but it's fast and easy. I've only had it destroyed by bad weather once so far!

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Clay lover: I do bring multiples of some items and restock them as needed -- but those are mostly smaller items -- no need to have six of the same color vase on the shelf at one time. For two day shows, I do bring some backstock so I can refresh. Also, for the second day of a show, I tend to rearrange the display so it looks fresh.

 

As for repacking, these shelves fold compactly -- like Neil's. My plastic bins have a thin 1/4 inch layer of foam in the bottoms; pots are put in plastic bags (recycled from produce bought at the grocery and newspaper delivery bags). Also, our goal is to be packed up and on our way home in an hour after the show is over -- most times we can get both set ups down and repacked in 45 minutes. And, after a few shows, you get a good routine going.

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How much to bring? I agree with bciske, the method that works best for me is twice as much as I expect to sell. However, this method only works for those with enough experience to know how much they expect to sell. So for anyone just starting out, I recommend these rules of thumb: $3000 for a one-day show, $6000 for a two-show, $8000-$10000 for a three-day show (though honestly if you are just starting out you should not be doing three-dayers yet). 

 

It is possible to bring too much, to your detriment. Packing too much only makes the process more cumbersome and time consuming than it needs to be. I think many aspiring artists drop out of doing shows because it's too labor intensive. Staying in it for the long term requires you to be as labor efficient as you can.

 

nancylee, the booth photo you posted is pretty, but keep in mind that display is for jewelry and aimed only at women. Only young women, it appears. A pottery display needs to appeal to a wider market, including men, and of all ages. You could start with reclaimed wooden boxes as your basis, but simplify it and make it look more grown up. 

 

I'm not sure I would build an entire display out of non-collapsible boxes. Years ago I saw a display like that. It looked great, and the potter said she used the boxes to transport the pots, then the boxes became her display. I said "oh, that sounds smart" and she said "I hate it, I can't wait to get rid of it." It turns out the boxes weigh a ton when they are loaded. They take up way too much space in her vehicle and at home. 

 

I am using the same mentality as bciske and neilestrick ... my whole display packs flat. Pottery is transported in plastic bins. The bins nest together when empty and store under a table. 

 

Here's my current display:

 

 

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post-1612-0-45873300-1386690041_thumb.jpg

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Your displays are lovely. The reason I like the wooden boxes is that my whole style is very rustic and organic. I don't think my stuff would look good in a more elegant/gallery setting. You know what I mean? Although I do understand that having wooden boxes that don't fold flat means that I have to make sure they will fit in my Honda fit. I have an Element, but my son has it now, and my husband has a van, but he has already told me that shows are not for him!!! (He hates selling!!) 

 

Thanks for the ideas and the numbers - you are always a generous bunch!
Nancy

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I am a little slow at posting here as I just got in from my out of state show a mere 2,300 miles away.4 days driving 3 selling.

Its my best show of the year

 

Nancy as you are new to shows I suggest taking as much as you can fit in your car.What I can say is if you do not have it with you you cannot sell it I have a different spin on this than others.

Pots in boxes back home are great if you have enough with you but most fall short of this.

Some tips are

Never think you can guess what the public will buy

The hots seller today is toast tommorrow or at least slower in sales

Twice as much is great but how do you guess this? Bring plenty of extra to cover this

Keep your extras nearby for access

use the van as that will be the easiest by far-we own a fit and its for people or jewelers not much else

Mark

 

 

After some time you will get where this is all second nature

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Thanks, Mark!! That is funny - the FIT really doesn't fit much, does it??

 

I hate driving the van, but I know I will be glad I have it. I am going to start practicing, tooling around town. With my sweatpants, my unbrushed hair with clay in it, my dry hands with short fingernails, I will be a sight to see tooting around in that old thing!!!

Nancy

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Hi,

Related question - if I don't want the hassle of my own tent, and apply for the tents at shows, do I need to bring my own walls, or curtains, or separators? Many shows I have gone to have either individual tents, or the show has the "rooms" already set up.

Thanks in advance,

Nancy

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It depends. I find that every show is different. Some shows provide tables that we use, but often as not, the size table doesn't work well with our display. I have 2x4 folding tables because the smaller size lets me arrange to suit the need.

At shows that don't have pipes and drapes I carry a white curtain to drop down behind my shelves to give a visual backdrop for the work, and to offset the darkness of the usual dark color drapes. I also hang a banner above the tall shelves that can be seen from across the room. That help to define the space.

I try for side arrangements that are vertical, eye high, large plates on stand, etc. It keeps the shopper from looking through the pots to the next booth. It gives a cleaner look. Hope this is what you were asking about.

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This is my booth two weekends ago in Tempe Az-during that cold snap nationwide.

Its a double corner booth and it does not fit into a SUV-but my van can hold a SUV along with a few pots if needed.

It barely fits into a one ton extended 2010 Chevy express Van which is my pottery rig

This was my 21st year at this show-twice a year for 41 shows at this venue.

This amount of pottery with backstock is about 75 bannana boxes

I sell somewhere between 1/3 and 1/2 of it.

This show is 1,200 miles from my home one way.

I only do a few double booths per year as they are much more work and I need help with the sales at a double.

I'm a potter who sells pots for a fair price and they really sell well so I need to bring many.

If your work is more one of a kind special then you will need less-you will see this right away depending on price points.

If I sell 500 spoonrests I better have 600 with me right or I will not know the limits-at this show I sold 450 spoonrests and took 550.

For me doulbe booths make sense at my larger shows(3 )-most shows I have a single or a few are booth and 1/2 (2 of my 7 total shows are that way now)

All these these shelves fold flat and I can pack this booth and drive away in less than two hours

I keep about 10 boxes for backstock behind the booth and pay for this space as well and my van is within a 2 minute walk for more backstock. 

When you start out at shows take as much as you can as you will not know what will sell.

Fill your booth -keep some more handy and see what happens.

Mark

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Hi,

Everything I make is functional, except for some Windchimes and ornaments.

 

Mark, your displays always amaze me! You bring so much, and have such packed displays! Like Christmas morning! How many hours a week do you work at your pottery? It blows me away how much you being?

 

Thank you, all for your generous sharing. You all have great displays that fit well with your work.

 

Best,

Nancy

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