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Thread: First Show - Results

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
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    Grand Rapids, MI
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    383

    First Show - Results

    I had my first show yesterday. I was one of three turners in a field of 140 booths. It was a craft fair, and the art stuff didn't sell well. Actually, nothing sold well. Pretty poor sales as a whole, but some booths did fine. I had an awesome time, but a sale or two would have been nice. (That's right, nothing sold......doh!)

    It was a last minute decision to enter this show, so I had been rushing around to get ready. I knew that I really would need smaller items to have many sales, but I just didn't have the time or energy. Although, I don't know that it would have mattered. The other turners had spatulas, pepper mills, oil lamps, bottle stoppers, and pens. They didn't sell much, if any. Bummer.

    But like I said, I had a sweet time, and this was a great way to get familiar with the ins and outs of shows, especially since it was less than a half a mile from my house. I hope to get into art fairs, especially juried ones, in the future.

    Hutch

    P.S. The last picture only shows about 60 of the 140 booths.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Booth 1.jpg   Booth 2.jpg   Booth 3.jpg   Me and Jen.jpg   Panorama.jpg  

    Last edited by Matt Hutchinson; 09-07-2008 at 10:04 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
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    Tokyo Japan
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    Matt, I agree, your set up looks great

    Too bad you did not sell anything, but that kind of sales can be strange, all you needed was one or two people to fall in love with one of your pieces and you would be off to the races!

    Don't worry about it, you have "Broken the Seal" so now the only place you have to go is UP!
    The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.
    William Arthur Ward

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Mountain Home, Arkansas
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    11,833
    My general observation is that shows are a waste of time. Some do well with them, depending on location and management of the show. We have a large, famous, juried show once a year in northwest Arkansas. Most who show there do well. But, local events are, largely a waste of time. Talking to the vendors usually brings responses that they are hoping to just make "gas money" to get back home.
    Where was your show?
    And, BTW, your stuff looks real nice.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
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    Matt,

    That's a pretty nice set up, and the work is stunning. Way better than anything I could do.

    But I *do* have a suggestion. You should have that pretty woman in the picture do all the selling. If I ever do a show, I'm gonna have Doorlink stand at the booth, and I'm gonna hide. If *I* showed my disreputable mug, all the customers would run away screaming. But they'd buy stuff from her...

    Oh, and it's hard to tell from the pictures, but are those the prices on the tags? Is it wise to display them up front?

    Thanks,

    Bill
    Last edited by Bill Lantry; 09-07-2008 at 03:30 PM.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Grand Rapids, MI
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    Good point!

    Thanks all for the comments! Yes, I think local small shows are quite risky when trying to find 'art' buyers. There are a couple local juried shows here in Grand Rapids, MI that I think are worth entering (not this one again). I searched the web this morning for Michigan shows, and there are more high end festivals than I realized.

    The point about displaying the prices up front is interesting. I hadn't thought about it too much, but I wonder if not putting up prices is a better tactic. I did some careful considering when pricing the pieces, and I think they were reasonable, but a touch higher than what a lot of novice turners sell them for (Dont' worry, I know I am in the novice category too ). The reasoning behind this is two-fold. One, I worked hard to have an absolutely flawless finish on them, and they turned out as nice as I could have hoped for. Two, the psychology of the art buying community is funny, and if they are too low they question their value. I kept the simpler ones low enough to make the value of the best pieces reasonable by comparison. I knew I wouldn't sell the expensive pieces, but I do have a couple possible outlets (galleries/stores) that cater specifically to the high end market. I am hoping I can get some good results at these places. Plus, the local artists association has a very nice gallery right in the heart of downtown that may prove profitable, cuz I don't think they have much wood art, especially woodturning.

    Hutch

    P.S. Hey Frank, the bowls are still for sale if you're interested.

    P.P.S. BTW, I sold three of them to family members, so at least I got the entry fee and some of the material costs back. But I certainly can't count on anything like that in the future!
    Last edited by Matt Hutchinson; 09-07-2008 at 06:03 PM.

  6. #6
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    Sorry to see it was a slow show for you Hutch. I'll echo the compliments on your work and on your booth. I think you have the right attitude about the whole thing.

    I suspect the "show" business is gonna be tricky this year. LOML and I were at the LA County Fair yesterday, and saw a number of empty booth spaces in the "merchandise" buildings. Either the Fair had trouble filling the spaces (which I doubt...there's usually a waiting list) or companies that paid for the space months ago either decided to not spend the expense to travel to the Fair, or they went out of business.

    I have four shows between next weekend and October, and even though they are decent juried shows, I'm a bit nervous about recouping my entry fees. I don't have a lot of small stuff to sell right now, but I've never had a lot of success moving the lower-priced items. (Still intend to have some on hand, though.)

    Here's wishing you better luck on your future shows, Hutch.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

    workingwoods.com

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Central Illinois
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    I, also, am sorry you didn't sell anything.

    A couple of comments based on my experience.

    1. After doing dismally at three "Craft Shows/Fairs", I started looking around for shows/ markets that require that items for sale MUST be SUBSTANTIALLY made by the artist (and you are an ARTIST - don't let anyone tell you otherwise. I place ALL of the people who show work here and other sites as ARTISTS and you should, too, including yourself. Some of us are still learning our ART and some have progressed very far, but we're all artists!) That means NO "made in china" and some paint added.

    I have no bone to pick with crafters. I consider some of them Artists, too, because of the quality of their work and their obvious talent. The problem is that at most "Craft" shows, the majority of the customer base expect to be able to pick up something for under $10.00. When you show items priced above $20.00, they think you are out of your mind. They have no idea what it takes to make a quality piece.

    2. Each day of a show is totally different from the others and all shows are different, too. Therefore, having a variety of items to sell is a necessity. I use a Price point range starting at $20.00 and going up to, for the time being, $200.00. As I get better, the high end will go up. I live in a market that that does not have much in the way of disposible income. I have been told that if I take my work to Chicago, I could 3 to 4 times what I charge here, but, to me, this is an AVOCATION, NOT a JOB! I'm not trying to make a total living at this. I make enough to upgrade my equipment, buy exotic woods, and pay partly for vacations, each year.

    Finally, spend some time walking local shows: say a 50 mile radius, to start.

    Look at the type of work there, is it about the same or slightly better quality as yours?

    Look at the customers. Are they singles, married couples, retired? Each of them have things they will and will not buy. Are there a lot of Families. How old and how many children. Obviously 3 -4 small children usually means that this is an outing to look, but not buy.

    Very IMPORTANT! Are the customers walking around with their hands in their pockets, or with bags in their hands.

    I'm sure there are other thoughts from others here.

    Best of luck at future shows. Artists DO NOT COMPETE with each, we support and assist each other. At least that is what I have found.

    Bruce
    Bruce Shiverdecker - Retired Starving Artist ( No longer a Part timer at Woodcraft, Peoria, Il.)

    "The great thing about turning is that all you have to do is remove what's not needed and you have something beautiful. Nature does the hard part!"

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Grand Rapids, MI
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    Good ideas

    Thanks Bruce! I think I will try to pay attention to some of the things you mentioned. Also, I am in an different position. I AM trying to make a living at this. I don't plan on making very much money at first on the artistic pieces. I work at Woodcraft to keep steady income, and architectural turning for local business is going to play an important part. (I have already done a few of these type of jobs.)

    Thanks for sharing your experiences!

    Hutch

  9. #9
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    Location
    DSM, IA
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    Matt, sorry your first show didn't amount to any sales. I have my first at the end of this month and have just about finished my booth display. It looks very similar to yours. I'm struggling with prices too, but I think you were right to stick to your guns on the prices. (yes I was following the thread over at SMC about your pricing)

    Sounds like you have a great attitude about how the show went and are looking forward to your next...well done and I wish you the best on your next show.
    A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone. -Henry David Thoreau
    My Website


  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
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    Grand Rapids, MI
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    Validation

    Thanks for the comments. I am glad to see that there is someone else who understands/agrees with my pricing. I know, me being a beginner, that at a certain level it's tempting to just write yourself off as unknown and price pieces low just to sell something. But it's not all about sales for me. It's also about letting people know who I am as an artist, and prices often reflect one's mentality. I wanted the serious lookers to know that I am confident I have beautiful bowls. Of course, this isn't saying I am content with where my work is at.

    At this point I am very hopeful and optimistic in my future as an artist. I feel pushed and challenged to really go for it. This is definitely just a starting point, and I already have some very intense and different pieces developing in my head and on paper. I can't wait to get some of them finished, and it's gonna be tought to be patient and wait for wood to dry! I may break down and do something out of kiln dried wood just so I can figure out the challenges of these future works.

    Anywho, I really hope your show goes better than mine and that you have a few more art patrons where you are going. Thanks again!

    Hutch

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