I was approached back in July or so about this show, and had many reservations going in. For starters, it’s a first time show. Those are a crap shoot at best, even when very experienced organizers are behind them. The people putting this on do a rummage type thing, which means some experience, so that’s good. But selling art and selling fine junk are very different animals, so I was still kind of unsure. Then the gal originally putting this thing on leaves for what were stated as personal reasons. Which could mean anything at all, not necessarily bad. Life happens all the time. But it sends a ripple of unease when your original contact departs in any case. So I was nervous.
Thankfully, mostly, I was to be pleasantly surprised.
Highlights: Despite this being their first rodeo doing art sales, the team brought it. Advertising was apparently very well managed because the preview “buyers club” tickets were sold out, and there was a line out the door Saturday. The crowd was huge, packing the isles for most of the day. Sunday, sadly, not even close. Thanks Packers, you bastards. This is like the third or fourth event I’ve done this year that got tanked thanks to sports. I don’t care for football/baseball at the best of times (I’m a rugby and martial arts girl) but when you mess with my money, I REALLY don’t like you. But I digress.
The venue was large, comfortable, with free and ample parking and easy load in/out. That means I could put my vehicle close to my booth and there was plenty of time to do everything in the manner I like to do it. A Friday setup from 1-7 was awesome. Nobody needed to be in a hurry or in anybody elses way. There were booth sitters and wifi, plenty of helpful staff around, and very decent food (thank you Tito, for your awesome empanadas and fresh churros). Nearby, affordable hotels and easy access to the highway also a bonus. Also, can I just say how AWESOME it is to be able to set up my stock and leave it overnight? An indoor, locked venue is the shiz.
The organizers served us wine and cupcakes Saturday night to thank us for showing up, which was sweet.
Lowdowns: Like, five mega churches within a ten mile radius. Which, whatever, pray where ya wanna, it’s a free country. But I don’t do well in conservative environs, and it showed. This venue wasn’t in Milwaukee proper, but a near suburb. Sales-wise, I did about what I expect from a suburb. Which is just enough to be worth it, but not enough to be exciting. Interestingly, it wasn’t art that really moved. It was knits. And not knits at full price, either. Knits I’ve got on super duper sale because I’m done doing them and want to clear the inventory to make room for other things. So it was not a spending crowd. People seemed far more in to the vintage stuff than the art, which there was more of at the event as a whole in any case. Not sure if that’s because the organizers wanted it that way, or it’s just the way it happened to work out. I made my nut and some profit, but it wasn’t bangarang. However, it wasn’t such that I needed to drown my sorrows either. I’d be interested to see how this show would have done if the Packers hadn’t been playing on Sunday. If we’d had Saturday’s crowd both days, I’d have been far happier with the results fo’ sho’.
Also, apparently there were vendor discounts at area hotels…that no one told us about. It was listed on the website, or so I was informed later when I asked wtf with that. That’s the kind of thing that needs to go in an email, folks. Most vendors have nothing to do with your website after downloading the application, and you absolutely can’t trust Facebook to deliver the news to everyone. Communication was a bit schizophrenic in general, actually. I got eleventy billion emails about discount tickets and whatnot weeks in advance, which I only really needed like one of, but didn’t get an email about forms that needed filling out by Friday till Thursday. But whatevs. First rodeo.
WTFs: I had THE BEST NEIGHBORS EVAR. I know this has zero to do with the organizers, but I felt the need to be joyous about it. I’ve been lucky at shows that I’ve never had any truly douche-y people as neighbors, but this time I was particularly surrounded by awesome. On one side of me were my favorite pickers from Elkhorn, of all people. I ended up buying some stuff from them during setup (I have a junk problem, I own this), and on Sunday she brought me a ton of beautiful, nature cleaned deer bones she had just randomly accumulated and didn’t know what to do with. On the other were two lovely jewelers who couldn’t have been nicer or more mellow and accommodating. Across the way were a couple who’s daughter and I were apparently separated at birth, and the vavoom-iest vintage mama I’ve ever done met. She and I, weirdly, worked at the same place just two years apart at Bristol, and know a crazy number of the same people (I mean, she knows Muffin, ffs!), but have never managed to run into each other. She joined mah boo and I for dinner and over deliciously greasy burgers we discussed everything from Stevie Nicks to business to belly dancing. Just down the way was a wonderful gal with a booth full of awesome vintage junk and art, who processes roadkill and also had more bones than she knew what to do with, so brought me a box of goodies I traded for, and a lovely bobcat skull she gave me a killer price on. I came home with more bones than profit, but hey!
Second and more wtf of the wtfs was the music. No one should ever use amps in a gymnasium. Ever. And you should also not have three musical acts playing amplified at the same time in such an echo-y space. Gymnasiums are horrible for music, and unless you’re going to play acoustic only, don’t play at all. But that wasn’t the true nightmare. No, it was that I heard the most hands down, horrific, gawd awful butchered version of ABBA’s Dancing Queen I’ve ever had the misfortune to suffer though. I think Ripley’s should be contacted, it was that bad.
So, all in all a positive experience. I didn’t make good money but I’m inclined to try their April event and see what happens. Response to the work was largely positive, so I’m gonna give this one another go. I know they’re looking for more vendors, so if you’re willing to gamble a bit, I wouldn’t tell you not to in this case.
Next up, Red Door!