Tuesday, September 6, 2011

What I'm Learning About Shows

Creating a compelling line of merchandise and finding a consistent market for it is way more difficult than I had understood. This last weekend really drove home for me that bigger, more established shows need to be my next destination. Little shows, even ones that have been good in the past, can be volatile. If the organizer decides not to advertise one year, then poof! No customers. (That's the word on the street about what happened last weekend.)

I got some great tips on better shows and spent the day yesterday following up on them. One great tip is to look at the event schedules of vendors who do work of a similar quality. I researched the shows of a jeweler and a potter who I know to make thousands of dollars at every show. They've been doing it for years and weeded out the shows that don't bring income.

It turns out that there are features the good shows have in common that will let me pick them out of the crowd:

1. The application deadline is 4-6 months before the show.
2. They publicize their jury requirements.
3. The fees are triple what I'm paying for little shows.
4. They are further away from here and nearer to cities.
5. They require that I carry liability insurance.

So I'm back to the old adage, "you've got to spend money to make money."

I'm creating a battle plan as we speak. I've got to separate shows into tiers based on my new knowledge and use money from the next shows to pay fees for later shows. I think that I'll be able to get my show schedule up to the next tier by the middle of next year if I play my cards just right.

In the meantime, I've still got to keep the production up so that I have the merchandise to sell when I get to the shows. To the loom!


Laura said...

You've learned some valuable lessons. There is no point doing a 'cheap' show that doesn't bring in qualified customers. I'd much rather spend more on a booth fee and feel confident that I will have sales than pay a tiny fee and waste my time with too few sales to make the effort worth while.

ACL Studio and Gallery said...

Beware that though some people sell well at a show with one product, other products might not sell as well there. Keep in mind product price points and your market as well.