Arts & Crafts Show Reviews 2014--Summer

Celebrate West Hartford
Old Saybrook Arts and Crafts Show

Celebrate West Hartford

This is a show that I have done for 5 or 6 years.  It has always been a successful show for me though each year I have made less and less money.  Twenty-eight years ago it was a high end art show.  After about 3 or 4 years a local organization added the carnival with food and rides behind the town hall.  Eventually the town of West Hartford took over that portion of the festival as well.  For a long time the activities behind the building didn't seem to affect the sales at the front.  But shortly after I started doing the show that began to change.  Whether it was the economy or the changing population of the area, more and more families began coming for the festival with its petting zoo and rides with fewer people coming for the art.  As artists dropped out, the show began accepting more crafts.

It seemed to many artisans this year that traffic was walking through the show to get to the back of the building.  That doesn't mean that no one was buying, but several people I talked to made significantly fewer sales than previous years. The man selling handmade bird houses was doing quite well, as was the vendor with wrought iron garden ornaments.  The jewelers with lower priced designs were definitely doing better than the high end people.  I guess I was somewhere in the middle--I sold 30+ pieces of jewelry but all priced at $75 and below.  I most likely won't be going back next year.

This show costs $200 and applications are due on Feb. 15.  It takes place on the lawns in front of the town hall on South Main St. and there were 160 vendors this year.  Vendor cars are conveniently parked in the garage across the street but getting a parking spot for load in and load out can be a challenge.  Friday load in is allowed and recommended.

Old Saybrook Arts and Crafts Show

I could say a lot of the same things about this show as I said about Celebrate West Hartford.  This was my first year but, in talking to people who have been doing the show for a long time, I found out that it too started out as strictly and art show.  Over the years as artists dropped out they accepted more crafters.  This show had 157 vendors and we were all given 10' x 15' spaces.  It seems that wasn't always the case but was necessary to give the show a fuller look.  Unfortunately, they also accepted a couple of vendors with manufactured items.  I heard several complaints about that but I don't know if anyone actually complained to the organizers.

Vendors who were at the show last year told me that 2013 was a banner year.  People I spoke with took in less money this year; sometimes half of what they made in 2013.

Old Saybrook is a tourist area so traffic was very good on Saturday despite the heat.  On Sunday we had rain off and on, traffic was slow, and I didn't start making sales until noon.

People still come to this show for the art as I saw several people walk by with canvases.  The people in the booth next to mine make  home deco items made from shells.  They clearly did quite well. And the vendor behind me who makes jewelry from silver coins had a great weekend.  Soap and herbals had lots of customers at their booth and the booth with dips was very busy.

Jewelry is, as usual, the largest category at the show.  While only 20% of the total, there were 30 jewelers and I heard customers make comments about "too many jewelers".  While I did moderately well I'm not sure it's worth going back given that, on top of the booth fee, I paid for 2 nights in a hotel and several meals.  If the show were closer, I would probably go back for another year.

This show costs $250 with a $25 jury fee.  But if they like you, you get an invitation for the next year with the jury fee waived provided you send in a check by a certain date.  So I have until Aug 29 to decide.

No comments:

Post a Comment