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#1 cuiyi

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Posted 30 April 2014 - 08:16 AM

Things are not selling out, have what good advice



#2 Stellaria

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Posted 30 April 2014 - 08:34 AM

In what venue are you selling? What are you selling? What are your prices?

#3 clay lover

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Posted 30 April 2014 - 01:45 PM

need more info to offer help.

 

I sell, but I don't sell out, that would mean I had not brought enough stock.



#4 alabama

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Posted 17 May 2014 - 09:09 PM

Hey,

      Last month my best friend, her husband, and I shared 2 booths at Auburn's Cityfest. She sold maybe 8 items and made her booth fee back, I sold one large 

pitcher ($40.00) and made my booth fee back.  There was probably 6 -9,000 in attendance... maybe 100+  booths.  And not many sales...  On one side of us was a furniture maker... Massive chairs, benches, tables, etc  they averaged $1,000 ea.  On the other side was a booth of paint instructors who taught painting on the spot.   They had customers but to complete a painting required at least an hour per sale.  $15. bought a blank canvas and bottles of paint.  It was an interesting concept.  Across the isle was a paranormal tour company, (we compared ghost stories) and a booth of nice garden and yard signs.  More people with dogs came by than people who were carrying merchandise.  The people who were buying were between 75 and 85 yrs and were buying for themselves and other relatives.

 

      We had the inventory needed and a wide spectrum of pottery.  Cups to steins, cereal, soup, & batter bowls.  We tried to meet and greet them and not hover around them.  So needless to say, we were at a loss....  I guess if I were suggest what we could do better next time would to diversify sales items to include wooden stuff and maybe some homemade items.  I plan to google dog biscuit recipes and have some prepared in plastic bags on hand.

Maybe some dog biscuit cannisters.  I think I my level on wood working is about making cutout s of fish, dogs, and chickens.  I am working on a toy where a paddle, much like a ping pong paddle has a chicken and a weight and when you move the weight around, the chicken head pecks the board.  We might look into learning how to make soap to put in our ceramic soap dishes.   I might try making some Bluebird houses, and some bat houses.  My suggestion to you is either do the same or find out what people want to buy in your area.  We're even  thinking, heaven forbid, about selling helium mylar balloons, but I'd rather,

as well as my pottery friends would like to make profits selling ceramics.  There were lots of lookers, lots of "tire kickers" but not many buyers for anyone there.

Seemed like most were there for the concessions and the free concert.  Until I break the code on this sellers/buyers idea, I probably won't do many more craft shows.  Wholesales works better for me, I guess.  Let someone else sell it and deal with the headaches.

 

 

 

Can't wait to hear from the professionals on this... we need help as well but I do plan to take my own advice and include other mediums in the next show.

 

Hope this helps,

Alabama



#5 Pugaboo

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Posted 17 May 2014 - 10:13 PM

I'm sorry you had a lousy show, they happen and can be very disheartening. I hope your next one when you do it is a rousing success. For future shows you might look into researching the location and type of people that attend it. My example for this would be a couple weeks back I did a small local festival. It was sponsored by the local High School Art Department. It took place at the high school, had high schoolers helping with set up, having booths of their own, etc. It was the Saturday before Mothers Day. I only paid $25 for the space and it was 30 minutes from my house so figured it was worth the risk to try it out.

Knowing what I did about the festival I made up some small vases which I filled with fresh flowers for the event, you bought the vase and got the flowers, instant Mother's Day gifts. I also made up a bunch of ceramic bracelets that used leather, hemp, cording, etc and wooden beads to accent. My Mom called them Mother Earth bracelets when I showed her. Another thing I made were small necklaces with transfer designs on them hanging on ribbon cords. A final item I did were mini dishes, aka tea bag holders, that I can make in seconds and are fun to test glazes on and everyone seems to love. These were my cheapest item at $4 each, I had people buying 5 of them at a time. The ribbon necklaces were $8, the bracelets $10 and the vases were $35 and the most expensive item in my booth. I didn't change what I do, my vision I guess you could say, I just tailored the items for this event using my style in a smaller way.

I went low end because I was gambling giving the setting it would be a $20 crowd. I was right for the most part my largest sale was $65 and the only credit card sale I had. Everything else was cash, $20 bills to be exact. They would buy 5 mini dishes, or 2 bracelets, or 2 ribbon necklaces and a mini dish basically whatever it took to get them to $20. It was like they all decided they were going to spend $20 and not a penny more or a penny less. It was weird at one point I thought they do realize they can get change back right? But decided not to complain as long as they were buying!

I should state it rained and was really nasty so nasty they moved the show into the high schools lobby. Attendance was dismal maybe slightly more than a 100 people showed up all day. I was worried I wasn't going to make booth fee but was happily surprised when I exceeded my goal of $250 by $10!

Now I don't mean to claim I know what I am doing but my gamble of going with low end gifts type items paid off; if I had gotten there and been surrounded by high end sculpture I might have gotten laughed out of the show. I no longer do major long distance shows only local preferably one day fairs so it's easier to research the venues and typical attendance demographics. You might try seeing if you can do the same for events you want to do. You also have to remember that a lemon of a show hits everyone at some point you just have to roll with the punches and hope you have more good than bad shows any given year. I did major nationwide festivals for over a decade with high end fine art and it's HARD really hard to make a good living doing it and I was able to do it but I got older and had a severe injury so had to stop doing them. Now it's smaller friendly easier fairs that I can do by myself, be done in a day and sleep in my own bed every night.

Try to stay true to yourself and don't let a bad show put you off your dream or vision of what you want your future to be and if all else fails go wedge some clay and work through the frustration. It works every time for me.

Terry
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#6 GEP

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Posted 18 May 2014 - 05:48 AM

I guess if I were suggest what we could do better next time would to diversify sales items to include wooden stuff and maybe some homemade items.

I would do the opposite of this. You probably had too much diversity, i.e. the work of three different people in one booth. When there are too many different styles of pottery in a 10x10 space, a customer really can't see anything clearly. Booth sharing is fine when you are in "getting your feet wet" mode. But not for serious selling. If you feel like you need to share a booth, because you either don't have enough inventory to fill a booth, can't afford the fee by yourself, or just don't want to feel alone, then you have not reached "serious" mode yet.

But really, the bigger issue about your story is that there was $1000 furniture items next to a paranormal tours operation. This was not an "art" event, it was a "town fair." Even if you had presented a really nice booth of pottery by yourself, this type of event would not have attracted the right buyers.

In my area where ther are lots of art buying people, we have lots of "town fair" type events which I would not consider doing.
Mea Rhee
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#7 JBaymore

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Posted 18 May 2014 - 07:08 AM

But really, the bigger issue about your story is that there was $1000 furniture items next to a paranormal tours operation. This was not an "art" event, it was a "town fair." Even if you had presented a really nice booth of pottery by yourself, this type of event would not have attracted the right buyers.

In my area where ther are lots of art buying people, we have lots of "town fair" type events which I would not consider doing.

 

 

What she said.

 

The "school of hard-knocks" is difficult enough in the ceramics field without subjecting yourself to this kind of situation. 

 

If you go into one of these "town fairs" as a resident of the town for what you might call a community service......... with no expectations of ANYTHING directly financial out of it...... and maybe do a demo or something...... that is one thing.  And that can be a good thing for you and your business IN THE VERY LONG RUN....because you are "giving back" to your local community.  Those local relationships you build can matter later...... like when you need a per mit for the gas kiln, studio sign, or holding a "home sale".

 

best,

 

..............................john


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Professor of Ceramics; New Hampshire Insitute of Art

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#8 clay lover

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Posted 18 May 2014 - 07:33 AM

The red flag for me at this event would be the "free concert".  I have found that the more entertainment there is, the fewer sales there are and the more dog walkers and groups of non shopping parents trying to keep a bunch of kids happy for free.

 

My motto is, "If there is face painting or a band, I stay home".  If it is an outing, they have not come to buy, but to stroll.  A festival telling you how many people come through is meaningless as to predicting sales.  The large question is, "Why did the people come out?"

 

If you want sales, if possible, preview the show the year before. 



#9 Pugaboo

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Posted 18 May 2014 - 09:56 AM

Not to be contrary but I disagree with the face painting or band issue, some of my best shows have been these type events. Sunfest in West Palm Beach FL one of my best shows every year and they have several large areas where major bands play during the entire event. Arts, Beats and Eats in Pontiac MI again food, music, street fair kind of thing I made enough to drive from central Florida every year. There are many of these type venues out there and my experience has shown me not to discount them as unworthy.

 

Also when you start out you need to cut your teeth somewhere and getting into a major show your first time out isn't likely to happen. I started out doing Film Festivals and some of these were good enough that even when I started getting onto Ann Arbor I still did them. I have even done Dog Rescue events and had good shows. I think the secret to these "alternative" venues is to tailor your art and your approach. At Music Festivals I offered to hold any purchases until after the concert ended, I even offered free shipping or reduced shipping to close a sale and still made a profit since I marked my art up enough to be able to do this. At smaller venues I would take a few really nice expensive pieces but mostly small easy for them to carry around items as well as having a lower price bracket which made a small $20 art piece seem a wonderful buy when they were paying $10 for a beer or burger. If there is face painting and balloon animals I make some small items that will get the kids attention and get their parents into the booth once there they generally buy something for the kids and usually something for themselves. For events like Dog Rescues I bring dog dishes, people dishes with different dog breeds on them, basically anything I think a pet lover will be attracted to. Why would I bring a hand painted, sculpted $300 vase to these type events? It would be silly and disastrous; research the event, look it up on Facebook, look up the artists that have done the show and google them a lot have blogs now and talk about shows and stuff, use google maps to look at where the event takes place, look at images of the event if you can't go in person the year before (which I do agree is a good idea!), etc. Now I don't just make junk to sell I stay true to my style I just tailor what I make and bring to these type events. Its a different way of doing things but has worked for me for many years.

 

That's my additional 2 cents worth of knowledge on festival life.

 

Terry


The world is but a canvas to the imagination - Henry David Thoreau

#10 Mark C.

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Posted 18 May 2014 - 12:48 PM

More mediums will just confuse the public

You need to pick a different event as others suggested

 

As far as music festivals-I have found folks only buy smaller easy to carry items as they are there to enjoy music not carry large bags of pottery-now that from doing 5 straight years of Seattle Folklife festival a 4 day event that goes for 12 hours a day over memorial day weekend.

I quit doing it long ago-sales where not enough for the effort (6K) for 4 days plus out of town expenses  my last year.

Booth sharing is also confusing for public as the work is so different.

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#11 ayjay

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Posted 18 May 2014 - 01:49 PM

I'm very much a novice when it comes to selling but I've done two local craft shows this year (different venues and organisers).

 

The first show, the best I can say is that nothing got broken. There was an approximate footfall of 100 people, I doubt if even 10% of them had any intention of buying anything from anyone, I made one sale, it was one of five sales in that room between five stalls. two sold nothing.

 

The second was larger, more stalls, and more people through the door, but there still seemed very little intent to buy, I sold about eight very varied pieces, lots of touchy feely on some items (which also happened at the other sale) but no-one bought those items.

 

I lost count of how many people fondled my pendants (everything else on sale was a proper pot) - my tutor bought two, but I was amazed at how many people had a feel and didn't buy - £5, absolute bargain.

 

Attached File  DSCF1748-c.jpg   461.97KB   1 downloads

 

 

 

I kept my prices low, maybe that was a mistake, but if it is I don't understand the logic.The prices may not mean much on the other side of the pond, but, Mugs £5, medium bowls £10, small bowls £5-7, (I also sold a Mr. Cortright style spoon rest for £3) :D .

 

The type of venue and type of sale are probably as important as anything, both of the sales I attended were fund raising for charity, they both had coffee and cakes for sale which were making money for the charity, whether I sold anything or not was immaterial to the organisers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



#12 Chris Campbell

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Posted 18 May 2014 - 03:58 PM

This is a good discussion and shows the need to understand what the show is for because people tend to do what they expect to do.

Live bands, food, free entertainment ... They walk around eating and listening to music. You are there so the promoters can mention hand made crafts ... but this for entertainment too as far as the crowd is concerned.

Charity fund raisers are there to raise money for the charity ... People decide what to donate and then make sure the charity gets it. Once again you are part of the scenery.

Huge buy/ sell craft shows also want you there so they can promote hand made crafts. You will find all ten of you jammed in the worst row looking overpriced and out of place. Why would anyone buy a twelve dollar mug from you when that huge booth over there sells one filled with candy for ten?

But it's a learning process ... I have done all three of these losing situations ONCE ... I could have been giving away my work at one street fair and no one would have accepted it. But I learned my lessons.

Good solid craft fairs are a whole different game. It pays to put off your booth for one year in order to visit the shows before you commit to it. Ask them for the contact info on other potters in the show so you can ask real people how it is.

Sunshine Artist used to be a good resource for ferreting out good shows. Don't know if it still is.

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#13 Mark C.

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Posted 18 May 2014 - 04:47 PM

Art fair source book is another

as well as the online forum art fair insiders

for those who look you can get good info.

Mark


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www.liscomhillpottery.com

#14 JBaymore

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Posted 18 May 2014 - 06:09 PM

 .........whether I sold anything or not was immaterial to the organisers.

 

NO... what was important was for you to BE there.  Your presence was part of creating the draw for the overall event... so that they could sell other stuff to raise the money for the charity.  They did not care iof yopu sold... just that you showed up (and they caould say that they has X craftspeople/artists exhibiting.

 

And that word, if they used it,....... "exhibiting"........ has connotations when someone reads it.  Exhibiting is entertainment...  (go and see the stuff)...... not a sales event.  Words matter.

 

Much better would have been to have the event wherre the sale of the ART WORK was generating the money out of which a portion of sales would be donated by the artists to the organization.

 

Then the people attending would buy fr om the artists in order tyo donate to the charity... and ALSO help the artists out.

 

Suggest it next time.

 

best,

 

........................john


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Professor of Ceramics; New Hampshire Insitute of Art

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#15 Marian65

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Posted 08 June 2014 - 01:03 PM

I've just read through this thread and it seems appropriate for me to add my experience from yesterday at a small-town festival.  I'd debated whether even to show up or not, but almost last minute decided to go ahead and do it for the experience.  I had three sales that all happened just before a storm cell hit and I packed up ditched the remainder of the day.  I sold one mug and two sponge holders, $12 each.  The space cost $10 and my husband and I shared three shave ices from the space next to me and I bought books from two authors in a writer's group I go to who were on the other side of me.  There were lots of vendors, a lot of trinkets.  One trinket vendor had a big, heavy cash register to use for her sales. 

 

While unloading my ware, I noticed that I'd left three boxes in my studio.  Since the boxes contained covered casseroles and my more pricey items, I decided not to bother husband with going back home to get them, but went with what I had and that all seemed appropriate for the day.  I love chatting with people who like/love pottery and I made a lot of good contacts for other things/other places and mentioned to several about the next venue which is a dedicated Craft Fest in two weeks.  I'm almost sure i'll see most of them again.  Whether they buy or not ... who knows. 

 

I was approached by a promoter who handed me a tri-fold color brochure about two conference centers near Fayetteville, Arkansas and excitedly told me about the thousands of people who attend and stories about some vendors who sell out (not pottery) the first day of a two day event, and on and on.  Then he mentioned the fees.  $1,500 and $1,800!  I'd have to make stuff for a year to get enough to try to recoup the fee and expenses for a weekend.  I just can't think in relation to my pottery and those figures. 

 

Every show/festival I attend (single digits so far) have lots of people asking me if I teach and expressing the desire to learn, accompanied with their individual stories of any past experience.  I love teaching beginning classes and intermediate and a few more advanced techniques in hand-building, but I'm not set up to teach from my studio. 

 

One man couldn't find a price on a bowl he liked, so I turned over the tag and when he saw $25, he left and was about 50 feet away by the time I got the bowl back on the table!  I will do that event next year just to help the tiny town and because it's fun, but I'll only take mugs, lots of them, some ring holders, sponge holders, and smaller things and I plan to make a folio in a three-ring binder to showcase my bigger/better ware for anyone who cares. 

 

Oh, and in addition to all the dogs in attendance, I got to host and pet a 24" tall horse in my booth.  Along with the experience of helping my husband and another guy hold down our canopy during the storm, the horse was probably the highlight of my day!  If I had to depend on pottery for a living, I'd starve quickly ... but I'd have a great time!

 

I agree with all of you who advise to match ware to the potential types of people in attendance and if you want to become known for your pottery, don't mix up woodworking and other things into your pottery displays.  I'd get another space for that or just not take pottery.  I think we should promote our chosen craft by itself so we can build the idea of quality (or humor, or cheap sales, or whatever it is you're looking to do), and not have our public relating our best work with other things, no matter whether it's pottery or wood carving or jewelry making.

 

That's more like ten-cents-worth, but since it's a discussion, hope you don't mind.



#16 CarlCravens

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Posted 08 June 2014 - 02:50 PM

Northwest Arkansas is practically a mecca of art/craft shows.  It's such a big deal, someone has a page devoted to just that area's shows... http://nwacraftfairs.com/

 

War Eagle (the War Eagle Mill Fall Arts and Crafts Fair, technically), about 30 minutes north of Fayetteville, is huge.  Took us hours to walk the whole thing (including the Sharps Show, which runs adjacent to the War Eagle show).  When my mother-in-law lived in the area, they were building new hotels to accommodate the art fair load.  Applegate (Ole Applegate Place Arts and Crafts Festival) was a more art-oriented show, but doesn't seem to be a going thing anymore.

 

If it's an *established* show in that area, vendor fees over $1500 make sense... but these shows are generally hard to get into.  If you've got a *new* show in the area with those kinds of fees and no waiting list... maybe you should see how they do for awhile.  I'm no expert, but at one point it seemed like everyone wanting to make a buck was trying to start an art & craft fair in NW Arkansas.


Carl (Wichita, KS)




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