Monday, June 11, 2012

More Questions than Answers after This Past Weekend's Craft Show

This past weekend I had a tent set up for the third year in a row at Celebrate West Hartford.   This show continues to puzzle me.  We did really well the first year and poorly last year.  And if you've read my reviews you know that it almost seemed as though a completely different population attended each year.

So this was my deciding year and this time both the population from 2010 and the one from 2011 attended--on different days.  Saturday was a bit rainy with intermittent sun.  Lots of people found their way into our tent but very few purchased anything.  They looked at prices and continued to the next tent. Jewelry on display ranged from $18 earrings to a $250 necklace with lots of pieces well under $100.  I strolled around and checked out other jewelers (there were over 30 of us at this event) and found that a couple of the people with bead strands were doing very well while higher end designers didn't seem to be so busy.

On Sunday we put out almost all new pieces in the same price range.  The show begins at noon on Sunday due to a road race but people start wandering through around 11. By noon there were thousands of people crowding the aisles of craft show booths.  Yet things still looked bleak at 2 pm when I made the decision not to apply to this show next year and a wave of customers appeared with their American Express cards to purchase multiple pieces and tell us how "reasonable" our prices are.  So we ended up selling almost as much as we did in 2010 and way more than 2011 but mostly within the span of a couple of hours on Sunday.

So do I apply to this show again next year and hope that the 2010 population shows up even if it's just for a couple of hours?

Do I raise my prices or lower them?  Actually, I've been using a suggested formula based on the cost of supplies and my time creating each design.  I've increased my prices a bit each year to cover the increased cost of silver and supplies and in an attempt to reach full retail. I'm still about 10%-20% away.  I feel badly that some people can't afford my jewelry but I think I feel worse when someone suggests I should be charging more. As if I don't value my work enough.  My daughter thinks I'm trying too hard to please everyone but my 2 lines of jewelry are at such opposite ends of the fashion trends that I'm really creating for 2 very different audiences.

$3000I was pleased to see so many people purchasing fine art this year, much more so than in past years.  There are some incredibly talented people at this show-- from Linda Tenukas oil paintings to the graphic designs of James Polisky and including the ceramic art of Gail Markewitz.

And John Cheer just blew me away.  This show was once primarily an arts festival and over time they've included more and more crafters.

So what is the future of art and craft shows?  I did 3 shows before West Hartford and sold little at 2 of them.  I took a ride to Mayfest in Vermont and found they are accepting resellers.  Are they not getting enough applications to fill all their spaces?  Are more shows desperate for booth fees going to head in the same direction?  As resellers increase artisans, who can't compete with their prices, will decrease.  Do people no longer appreciate locally handmade goods?  Can people no longer afford them?

1 comment:

  1. Hello!!!....You're not obligated to follow the rules, but I just wanted to let you know that I did a blog post today, nominating you for the Sunshine Blogger Award! :-)