Monday, November 15, 2010

Craft Fair Conundrum

To apply or not to apply, that is the question.I seem to be always looking for a new craft show in the hope that I will find my customers there. We've had several successes this year and I'll reapply to those but I'm looking to replace the poorer shows.

Knowing that high school shows and church bazaars are definitely not good shows for us, we decided to take a look at a show at the other end of the scale--the professional promoter shows.

There are a few big promoters who run shows along the East Coast. Sugarloaf Craft Shows, Castleberry Fairs, and Craft Producers are the biggest I know of. Spaces at Sugarloaf start at just over $500 with electricity extra. It's a lot of money but would it be worth it?

This past weekend we drove down to Hartford for the Sugarloaf show at the Expo Center. It is definitely huge. We went on Sunday and by 1:30 the parking lot was full and they were sending cars to an open area at the end of the street. People were piling into the show despite the $9 entrance fee. My first impression was that this was the place to be.

But on closer inspection, most vendors were not doing well. Some were barely covering the booth fee. Higher end jewelry wasn't selling and pottery was selling only if it was unique. One potter has perfected a purple glaze that you can't miss. Though this show didn't have the usual mass of country craft vendors (I don't think I saw even one), the food vendors clustered in one aisle seemed to be getting most of the business.

Had we done the show this year we would have had no competition in the steampunk jewelry catagory. We might have been able to take in $800-1200. But after subtracting the booth fee we wouldn't be left with much. I can make that much at a much less expensive show and end up with more profit.

So Sugarloaf is out for now but there's a Castelberry show in the same location in December. It's $450 for the booth fee and their most expensive show. Is that because it's their best show or because the Expo Center costs so much to rent? I'll try to get to that show too and find out.

For anyone interested there is a more detailed review on my Arts & Crafts Shows Review page for Oct/Nov.

1 comment:

  1. I can't wait to see how it turns out! Your info about the craft shows is always so honest and always gives me something to think about. Thank you for sharing. :-)