Cuz I do these. You can not bother if shows don’t interest you. I won’t be upset.
So I’m entering my self promised week of not looking at my workshop (which I have mostly adhered to, but I do have a custom order that needs attention, so I did a little bit of painting) and I’m already thinking about next season. Because I have to. Because the applications are already being sent to last years vendors. This whole running your own business thing never really lets up. That’s cool. I get crazy cakes when I sit around without enough to do anyway. It’s just the taxes that make me hyperventilate. The rest is pleasantly occupying.
So this is the part where I do the whole “this is how my shows went” and share with interested parties.
This season started out with a one day show in my favorite town, Baraboo, WI. It was a well planned and easy to navigate event, but alas, the crowd didn’t get into my glittery shenanigans. Which would have been fine without the 3 hour drive and hotel costs. So, lesson learned, one day shows are riskier than two day shows and maybe I shouldn’t spend that much money to do them. Keep it nearby and low cost because you’re far more likely to make back your nut over the whole weekend than just half of it. So, final score is, too expensive for me to do being this far away, but anyone nearby might want to give it a go. It’s cheap, load in/out was a breeze, and management is a pleasure to deal with.
Second up is Spring Green, not far from ‘Boo, but a two day shindig and very close to the more cosmopolitan Madison. It draws a strong Madison crowd and is well established and therefore well known and advertised. I had little interaction with the organizers, but what I had was easy and pleasant. Everything went very smoothly from load in on Friday to load out on Sunday. These guys have their ducks rowed. Beyond the one seriously epic (aaah, see what I did there?) sale, I didn’t move much, but interest seemed there and feedback was positive. I’ll be back next year and see how it goes. The travel made this a spendy show to do, so I’m going with the hope that I can build a buying audience.
Next we have Northbrook. Wiiiich sucked a whole lot. Management was fine and set up and tear down easy, but the crowd looked at me like I was going to steal their babies. Which, I don’t even like babies, so why would I steal them? Added to the high table fee (like $300), it’s not worth it for me. There was a ton of jewelry, so I assume that moves, and my one across the way neighbor seemed to be doing well with some tiny, cute paintings which were priced quite low, but most people I talked to weren’t happy. That’s officially it for me and the suburbs, man. I’ve had some great customers out there, but am largely not well received. They will just have to stalk me on line and come find me at my city shows.
On to Glenwood Ave. Arts Fest. I won’t belabor my last two years worth of points. Glenwood is always consistently good. Good crowd, receptive and engaged. Only $100 to get a spot there, so good profit margin, and the organization is usually on point. Load in is super easy and relaxed. Load out is always kind of a mess, but I’ve learned to get around that by parking very nearby and bringing a hand truck and a spare monkey. If I can’t get my rig to my shit, I’ll take my shit to my rig and gtfo in a timely manner while everyone else is trying to negotiate with other vehicles. Impatience has it’s advantages. I’d recommend this show to anyone. Most people I talk to love it and have been there multiple years running.
September was challenging with two big shows, the first of which was Lakeview East Festival of the Arts. Which was, in a word, bangarang. Expensive as hell though so proceed with caution. The almost $500 table fee, plus parking (if you, like me, want to be close enough to have to pay for it rather than using the free parking and shuttle bus provided) makes it a gamble. For me, it was totally worth it. The crowd was ready to spend all weekend long, crappy weather be damned. I’ve never sold that many over $100 pieces at one show. Load in and out were both an epic pain in the ass, but they provided us with a free hot breakfast both days, so I forgive. Apparently they’re going to be under new management this coming season, so hopefully they don’t screw it up, but I’m game for next year.
Second in September was the Edgewater Arts Fest. Pretty cheap to do at something like $150, and in a neighborhood similar to Rogers Park (not to mention right next door to it), where I have a good customer base. I had a great show. Other vendors I talked to were having mixed luck though. I’ll do it again, even though management needed a sound slappin’ for the absurdly horrific mess that was set up. Tear down was only slightly less stupid. But it’s my understanding that they’re still working out the kinks of this young-ish event. I wouldn’t tell anyone to stay away though, as it was my second best show this season.
October was mostly chill, with one small popup show at Prairie Moon restaurant, the second one I’ve done with this organizer (first one was in spring), but since they were only 4 hours long I’ll address them together here. The spring one I did surprisingly well at, given the event is brand spanking new and tiny. The second, not so much (seriously Cubs, I don’t care if you win or lose, unless your weird winning streak messes with my money). But it was crazy cheap, five minutes from my house, and laid back as all get out. The organizer is very into making this succeed and become a Thing, and everyone noticed. The tiny table fee was thrown entirely at advertising from what I could tell. Big sexy posters were made, and volunteer monkeys were solicited for flyering purposes. I’m on board for as many more of these as she’s willing to saddle herself with, because I believe in it strongly and think it’s got good potential. Look out Evanston, I’m gonna be so in you. You better not be scairt like them other ‘burbs.
November brought me to another new show, Re:Craft and Relic. The stated mission was to join vintage, crafters, artists and high end pickers together at an event that spans the genres. An idea I’m way into, though I think it baffled the audience. It seemed people were expecting lower prices from the art parts than they were finding, because aside from two or three nice sales, nothing over $35 moved. I think people have to get used to it. Pretty cheap table fee, but hotel costs were an issue, because it’s just far enough away from me in Milwaukee that I didn’t want to try and commute. The organizers were very available and communicative, and did a great job with the advertising. Saturday’s crowd was huge, though Sunday pretty well tanked. Not sure if it was the Packers fault or the FIVE MEGA CHURCHES with in a ten mile radius. But, Sunday’s sad sales aside, I did well enough to do it again and I’m on board for their spring show. I won’t tell anyone to stay away from this one, but I will caution that as new as it is, and drawing a crowd that is mostly conservative in tastes, it’s a gamble.
My last three shows were one day holiday shindigs and went thusly;
Red Door- I didn’t lose money, but neither did I make any. It’s never been a big money maker, but I kept hearing that nobody knew it was even happening til the last minute, which makes me think they flubbed the advertising this year. They also lost their Santa at the last minute, but how much of the sorry crowd was to blame on that I don’t know. Table fee is kinda on the high side for a one day gig at $100, too. I’ll give it one more year for the sake of supporting the great work they do, but I can’t keep it up much longer unless the rest of my year gets so good I can write it off as a good deed. And it is a good deed.
Late Late Craft Show- The only reason I didn’t lose money at this one was because my bestie’s coworker, for reasons unknown but much appreciated, picked up our food and drinks. But it did suck most mightily. And I don’t understand why. Great location, solid advertising from what I could tell, and a really enthusiastic team at the helm. Fiber seemed to be doing well enough, but those of us on the “fine” (to me that only means something you just look at because it doesn’t do anything else) side of the art spectrum were all pretty bitchy at the end of the night. Spendy, with a $130 table fee, for one night of really poor sales, so probably not on the list for next year.
Shop Jarvis Square- Got a very late start and so probably suffered a bit from not enough heads up, but cheap and close and easy to do, so despite my sales being quite a bit less impressive than last year, I wouldn’t call it a bad year for this nifty pop up. It’s my third, and continues to be totally worth doing. Lots of the same vendors as in years past, too, so that tells you something. It’s $35 and in a row of bars and businesses that pimp the hell out of it and do a lot to encourage customers to hit all the locations. I’ll do it again, and if you’ve got a decent range of items under $60, I’d tell you to do it too.
So that’s my season, y’all. Obviously, these are the experiences of one vendor selling one type of thing, so your mileage may vary quite a lot. But it’s always good to hear feedback from others, at least in my experience, so here ya go. May it do you some good.
Have a great Whatever If Any Holiday You Celebrate!