Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Selling REAL Jewelry

"This is real jewelry.  Not those store-bought pendants you just hang on a chain."  This is a quote from one of 3 young girls who stopped by my booth this past weekend to look at my fine silver pieces.  Though they didn't buy anything, it was so gratifying to know that they knew the difference.  I'm not certain everyone does.

This was not a very successful show for me and given that the traffic count was easily over 20,000 people, I couldn't help but wonder why I did so much better the last time I attended.   The question of what is handmade came up again as I left my booth in my friend Eva's capable hands and walked around to see how everyone else was doing. 

Crystal who makes "real" handmade bags.

                                   Becky who also makes "real" jewelry. 

About 8 or 10 booths away was a cluster of jewelry sellers, 5 or 6 booths almost in a row, selling pendants for $5 or $7 or the same bangle bracelet in different colors for $10.  I'd like to say that I can't compete with those prices.   But while several of them had people in their tents, it didn't look like they were selling a lot either.

This year on its 10th anniversary stART on the Street accepted 360 vendors, both with 10 x 10 booths and sidewalk tables.  That's over 100 more than last year.  The section of Park Ave. between Highland and Pleasant was completely filled and even included a farmer's market at one end.  As I walked up one side of the street it suddenly occurred to me that I really wasn't taking in anything.  Occasionally a painting would catch my eye but mostly I just browsed.  Between dodging people and the sameness that all the booths became after awhile, I never really focused on anything.

Many of the shows that I do have too many jewelers.  It's not often a problem as my steampunk usually stands out.  I had a corner booth so I was getting traffic from 2 sides.  I just had to put up something that would catch their eye.  So I did a little rearranging and put up a couple of bigger steampunk pieces right out front and some fancier silver pendants on the side.  Anyone who actually registered what they were looking at did stop and comment on the steampunk and the creativity that went into making my unique pieces.  Men in particular were fascinated with what I do with watch gears and sewing machine parts.  And everyone liked the expensive pieces but no one was willing or able to buy them. 

At other shows I encourage people to come in and try something on.  It sometimes leads to a sale. This wasn't an option at stART as we were also very close to one of the stages that featured some very loud repetitive heavy metal type music that made it difficult to hear.   Words don't sound very encouraging when they're shouted.

For me the show wasn't a loss.  Just disappointing.  While the organizers of stART probably did very well financially on their 10th anniversary, adding 100 vendors didn't do the artisans any favors.

You can read a more detailed review for vendors in my side pages.

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