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How Much Is Too Much For A Table Cost At Craft Event?


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#1 DMCosta

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Posted 09 June 2014 - 12:54 PM

I have been looking for more craft events to do locally. I'm finding that a large majority of them start at $200 for a day and go up to $450 for a weekend. So, because of that I've been doing smaller cheaper events run locally by chambers of commerce etc. I work a FT job and sell pottery on the side, so I don't have the time to produce a two thousand dollars worth of merchandise to turn a good profit at a huge, expensive event. However, the small run events lack serious buyers, crowds, and money earned. I've just did two in which generally none of the artists really made any serious money. I did try one large expensive holiday event last year and most people there just covered there table cost.

My question is: Is there a happy medium here? What kinds of events/sales have you found both affordable and profitable? Which are the most successful?

#2 JBaymore

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Posted 09 June 2014 - 01:19 PM

Booth fee should be directly related to expected revenue. Revenue is tied to BUYERS.... not attendees. 10,000,000 who are there for entertainment do you no good. Look for past SALES numbers.

 

best,

 

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


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#3 Chris Campbell

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Posted 09 June 2014 - 05:12 PM

You cannot get any info that helps you choose from the booth fee.
$20 can be too much if nothing sells and you waste two days listening to music and smelling frying food while the world passes by.
$400 can be a bargain if you sell $4,000 worth of work.

There is nothing better than visiting the show ... then deciding for next year.
Look around ... are lots of people carrying bags with purchases or are they just eating and strolling? Check out the vendors ... How many are buy/sell booths as opposed to real hand made crafts? Get cards from the real crafts people and email them to ask what they think of the show. How does the show feel to you as you walk around ... would your work be a good fit or not? Not all work sells from a booth, believe me!

Small local shows are not necessarily bad. I've made good money at a local church Christmas Craft Sale where the booth fee was $10.
The proof is in the show itself.

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#4 JBaymore

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Posted 09 June 2014 - 06:11 PM

You also have to weigh what various craftspeople feel is a good dollar volume for what they will call a "good show". Someone can say "Oh yeah I did GREAT there"......... but you have NO idea what that really means.

 

There is one major show that I used to do that many potters continue to do year after year after year. That show requires sales records go to the organizer....since a commission is taken on gross sales in addition to the booth fee. Every year the "average sales by media per booth" are published.  If you talked to the potters, many if not most would say "wonderful show"........ but when I look at the average sales per booth...... I'd say "appaling for the work and time involved".

 

So..... perspective........ Seattle just rased the minimum wage to about $10.00 per hour.

 

If I have to do a weekend fair, it'll basically take me a day to load up and prepare all the (already made) stuff for the weekend. Two long days spent at the event. And one day to unpack and recover from the event. So........ four days.... at let's say an average of 9 hours a day. 36 hours of direct labor. The standard "rule of thumb" for comparing self-employed income to employee wages is about double to account for SE tax , Medicare, and so on....... so to make minimum wage (in Seattle) for my efforts at SELLING there has to be  36 x $20 = $720 of net income left AFTER I PAY THE POTTER FOR THE WORK I SOLD.

 

What do I mean by that?

 

The above basic wages are not for being a potter.  They are for being a retailer.  For selling a product.  You happen to buy your product from yourself.  You need to figure out what the price is of the pieces you make at wholesale to pay yourself for the time, materials, and overhead that wnnt into making the pieces in the first place.  That is separate from the selling activity.  (Not going to talk about that part here.)  But for most the typical "markup" is 100%.  So that means a pot that pays you a decent wage for making it.... say at $10.... has to sell retail for $20 to give you the room to pay the salesperson for their time and effort.

 

So that $72O figure above needs to now DOUBLE to $1440 to make the numbers work.

 

But.............

 

The above does not include selling expenses taken out of the gross sales.  You will have packing materials, business cards, receipt books, costs for stuff like Square, the depreciation on your booth and shelving and such, the booth fees, your travel costs, and so on.  These typically easily add up to the hundreds of dollars.

 

So you have to add those expenses to the $1440.

 

And that $1440 is paying you minimum wage (ish) to be at the fair.  While you were there, you weren't making anything in your studio.  Hopefully whn you calculated the price of the pots you sold to the retailer.... you came up with a better than minimum wage figure there.  Otherwise....... you could be flipping burgers at Micky D's and have health insurance.

 

Food for thought (oops.... bad pun).

 

best,

 

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


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Professor of Ceramics; New Hampshire Insitute of Art

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#5 GEP

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Posted 09 June 2014 - 08:20 PM

I do shows that cost between $50 and $2200. Well, the $2200 show contains a wholesale component, so regarding retail-only shows I will spend up to $1500 (including travel costs when needed). All of these shows are worth it. At the same time, there are plenty of shows in all of these price ranges that I would not go near. Like Chris said, the booth fee does not tell you if a show is worthwhile.

Visiting a show first is a great idea. You can learn so much just by looking with your own eyes. I also gain a lot of great insight from my little network of festival pals, whom I have gotten to know and trust over the years. Lots of inside information gets traded amongst artists. Lately I've tried some shows that I never visited, but felt I had enough credible info about. Was not disappointed. Like John said, anyone can tell you they had a "great show" but you really have no idea what that means. I only pay attention to people I know and trust.

Generally speaking, the higher priced shows do generate more sales. If the show organizer is smart, they will have a good idea of the sales being made, and set a booth fee that makes sense. However, there are plenty of organizers who aren't very smart, and that's why you can't judge based on just the fee. (This is the kind of info you can only learn from other artists: does the organizer have their act together, or are they loopy? Or greedy?)

My advice for DMCosta ... you say you cannot produce a big inventory for a big show. That's ok. So try to determine what is the largest inventory you can produce. Using a very very generic formula that says we aim to sell half of what we packed, ask yourself what booth fee would you be willing to spend to make that amount of sales? Look for shows in that price range.
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#6 DirtRoads

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Posted 10 June 2014 - 11:17 AM

You also have to weigh what various craftspeople feel is a good dollar volume for what they will call a "good show". Someone can say "Oh yeah I did GREAT there"......... but you have NO idea what that really means.

 

There is one major show that I used to do that many potters continue to do year after year after year. That show requires sales records go to the organizer....since a commission is taken on gross sales in addition to the booth fee. Every year the "average sales by media per booth" are published.  If you talked to the potters, many if not most would say "wonderful show"........ but when I look at the average sales per booth...... I'd say "appaling for the work and time involved".

 

So..... perspective........ Seattle just rased the minimum wage to about $10.00 per hour.

 

If I have to do a weekend fair, it'll basically take me a day to load up and prepare all the (already made) stuff for the weekend. Two long days spent at the event. And one day to unpack and recover from the event. So........ four days.... at let's say an average of 9 hours a day. 36 hours of direct labor. The standard "rule of thumb" for comparing self-employed income to employee wages is about double to account for SE tax , Medicare, and so on....... so to make minimum wage (in Seattle) for my efforts at SELLING there has to be  36 x $20 = $720 of net income left AFTER I PAY THE POTTER FOR THE WORK I SOLD.

 

What do I mean by that?

 

The above basic wages are not for being a potter.  They are for being a retailer.  For selling a product.  You happen to buy your product from yourself.  You need to figure out what the price is of the pieces you make at wholesale to pay yourself for the time, materials, and overhead that wnnt into making the pieces in the first place.  That is separate from the selling activity.  (Not going to talk about that part here.)  But for most the typical "markup" is 100%.  So that means a pot that pays you a decent wage for making it.... say at $10.... has to sell retail for $20 to give you the room to pay the salesperson for their time and effort.

 

So that $72O figure above needs to now DOUBLE to $1440 to make the numbers work.

+

But.............

 

The above does not include selling expenses taken out of the gross sales.  You will have packing materials, business cards, receipt books, costs for stuff like Square, the depreciation on your booth and shelving and such, the booth fees, your travel costs, and so on.  These typically easily add up to the hundreds of dollars.

 

So you have to add those expenses to the $1440.

 

And that $1440 is paying you minimum wage (ish) to be at the fair.  While you were there, you weren't making anything in your studio.  Hopefully whn you calculated the price of the pots you sold to the retailer.... you came up with a better than minimum wage figure there.  Otherwise....... you could be flipping burgers at Micky D's and have health insurance.

 

Food for thought (oops.... bad pun).

 

best,

 

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

 

That $1440 net would require at least $3K of  gross sales?  



#7 Mark C.

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Posted 10 June 2014 - 04:21 PM

I am not familair with table cost?

For me its about a booth space for show weather its a one day two day or 3 day or 4 day show

Your rent the space and fill it -anything like tables chairs or tents are an extra charge run by a 3 rd party thru the promoter.

Now as to cost my local 4th of july show put on by the local chamber of commerce is 225$ for a double booth

Most 2 day shows seem to be around $500-600 with a few exceptions a $250 local one

I do some 3 day doulbe booth shows at $1200

None of this is travel expense-that is all extra

I have my own chair and displays and canopies

For me at this level I like corner booths and over 1/2 of them are double booths

I will add that for me I need lots of people at a show to make a good money.

I now only do shows that have lots (tons)of people with one exception (the 4th of July)

When I was younger learning the ropes I did all kinds of shows now I would not do those little ones-I have learned its the exact same work to set up and man and take down at a little piss poor show as a big money maker one so I only try to do those as its a better return on time and money spent.

Now this needs to be clear -its my living not my hobby.

The only table I take to a show is my sales table 18 inchs x 32 inchs

The hardest part of all this is finding the right shows for your work and that takes time on the ground-no short cuts.

Mark


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#8 JBaymore

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Posted 10 June 2014 - 06:13 PM

That $1440 net would require at least $3K of  gross sales?  

 

Nope... read that thru again.

 

That scenario does not cover paying ANYTHING for the pots other than the "wholesale" price.  So you'd better be paying yourself correctly for developing that price....... or you are  cutting into your hourly wages there.

 

best,

 

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


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Immediate Past President; Potters Council
Professor of Ceramics; New Hampshire Insitute of Art

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#9 GEP

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Posted 11 June 2014 - 07:42 AM

I am not familair with table cost?

For me its about a booth space for show weather its a one day two day or 3 day or 4 day show

Your rent the space and fill it -anything like tables chairs or tents are an extra charge run by a 3 rd party thru the promoter.

Now as to cost my local 4th of july show put on by the local chamber of commerce is 225$ for a double booth

Most 2 day shows seem to be around $500-600 with a few exceptions a $250 local one

I do some 3 day doulbe booth shows at $1200

None of this is travel expense-that is all extra

I have my own chair and displays and canopies

For me at this level I like corner booths and over 1/2 of them are double booths

I will add that for me I need lots of people at a show to make a good money.

I now only do shows that have lots (tons)of people with one exception (the 4th of July)

When I was younger learning the ropes I did all kinds of shows now I would not do those little ones-I have learned its the exact same work to set up and man and take down at a little piss poor show as a big money maker one so I only try to do those as its a better return on time and money spent.

Now this needs to be clear -its my living not my hobby.

The only table I take to a show is my sales table 18 inchs x 32 inchs

The hardest part of all this is finding the right shows for your work and that takes time on the ground-no short cuts.

Mark

 

Last year I did a show where I paid for a table instead of a space. There are plusses and minuses to this. Sales were pretty good given the small scale, but I sold mostly little items. Overall I thought the scale of the show was too small for me. I'd rather have more room to display, and I'd rather have some separation between my display and the next display. I definitely recommend this type of show to anyone who is starting out, because you don't need hardly any gear! When this show was over, rather than dealing with the traffic jam of artists' cars trying to get close to this building, I put all my gear on my dollie and rolled it a few blocks to my car in one trip. So it's a good way to try selling without investing in a full-size display, or needing a giant inventory.

 

Last year I also bought myself a second canopy ... a super lightweight pop-up ... about 20 lbs and can be set up in literally three minutes. I call it the One-Day Tent. This has allowed me to take advantage of the one-day events around here. There are some good ones. I also used to think it wasn't worth the effort for one day of selling. But this light tent makes it possible. Now I save the heavy tent for multi-day events. But as always, judging shows is an individual as judging artists. Some one-dayers are not worth $10. Some are worth $200.


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#10 DMCosta

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Posted 13 June 2014 - 12:42 PM

Thank you everyone for your advice! By the way, when I mentioned 'table cost' I meant booth fee. Most of the events I participate in charge you for a space not per table.

#11 DMCosta

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Posted 13 June 2014 - 12:47 PM

Also just in general, I don't know if it's specific to where I live, but almost all shows I've participated in or attended lacked attendance in my opinion. That seems to be a major complaint of most the other fellow vendors I cross paths with.

#12 alabama

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Posted 13 June 2014 - 12:58 PM

I have been looking for more craft events to do locally. I'm finding that a large majority of them start at $200 for a day and go up to $450 for a weekend. My question is: Is there a happy medium here? What kinds of events/sales have you found both affordable and profitable? Which are the most successful?

Hey,

     Not sure what state you're in but some states have a Dept. of Tourism that are thrilled to mail you a state wide "Calendar of Events" which lists most

craft related shows.  Some towns have a Chamber of Commerce which not only carries the Calendar of Events but also local shows and county happenings.

Most listings have a phone number or web site that has all the info needed to contact someone in charge.  But you have to pick and choose the right one that fits YOUR needs.  You might want to pass on the County Tractor Pull and Craft show but the Mule and Craft show have a larger crowd.  In either case make sure your booth is upwind from the watermelon seed spitting contest.

 

       I used to go to a Farmers Market and Craft show at Mt. Laurel near Birmingham.. It was free, every Saturday from 8:00 - 1:00ish.  I usually sold enough to buy gas and sometimes traded for produce and goats cheese.  The place was a self contained town with lots of retirees, large houses, and stores along main street.   Sometimes  you might get requests to make coffee cups to match sofas and drapes.  After several weeks I knew most of the towns people by name.

It was steady and not all day or weekend..  Gives you a chance to hone your skills.

 

     Historic events - If you're willing to make items that are dead on accurate to historic pottery, you might like to try historic events.... Most have a cutoff

historical date like 1763, 1780, 1830, or like Civil War 1865.  You can make and sell anything made and used BEFORE that date.  The clothing, shoes,

table, chairs, jewelry, all have to be historical correct in most cases.  Next week, my annual "pit fired" demonstration will be in front of about sixty

archaeologists so the greenware that is being made this week is 17th and 18th century pots and bowls.  Most wil be dry enough to fire and the others will be fired as soon as the steam burns off.  The cut off date is 1763 A.D. (The end of the French and Indian War)  Most of the archaeologists have read historical accounts on how pottery was made but never have seen before. 

 

      Some of the larger Crafts Shows will have a Jury fee and a booth fee and a hefty price.  Sometimes, you can offer to demonstrate if some of the

fees are waived.  Sometimes they might have  demonstration tents (like TACA - Tenn. Arts and Crafts Assoc.) or a demonstration area.  So in a case like that,

you might want to demonstrate this year  and check out the craft show for next year.  Sometimes, there is a craft show in a town where a friend or relative lives

and you can do a craftshow and visit at the  same time.

 

Hope this helps.  All the other posts have really good advice as well.

Thanks,

Alabama






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