This weekend LOML and I showed turnings at an Arts and Craft show in Woodland Hills. This is one the local Rotary Club has been sponsoring for 40 years. We were a little nervous about this weekend, since it was rainy here Thursday and Friday, but Saturday was dry, with partial sunshine and nippy temps. In a nutshell, it was a slow day sales-wise.
The turnout was better Saturday than we saw at the last show, but I only sold one bowl all day. Funny thing was, it was one of my least favorite bowls. I almost didn't even put it out on the table Saturday morning. Just goes to show ya never know what people will want to buy.
This is the first show I've done that had other turners. I talked with both the other guys, and got some more feel for my pricing. My prices seemed a bit high on the scale compared to theirs, and they both did very nice work. They both do this stuff as their sole living, so they were concentrating on the smaller bottle stopper/pen/pill box type of merchandise, since that's what they can sell a lot of. After looking things over, I did a little adjusting of the prices on my bigger pieces. (I've suspected that my prices were a bit too high for a while.) One of the other turners came by my booth a bit later and checked out my stuff and my prices. He was complimentary about the work, and felt the prices were in a good range. One cedar hollow form in particular he thought was priced almost too low at $180.
Sunday ended up being worse than Saturday. There just wasn't much of a crowd out...it was cold and windy. We had wind gusts to 30 or 35 mph at times. (Note to self: Think twice before doing any more outdoor winter shows. Sunny California, my eye.) The other turners at the show did OK, but they had a lot more low-priced selection than I did. My only sales on Sunday were a pen, another bowl, and a bell ornament.
Fairly early in the day Sunday, our canopy got blown over in a big gust of wind, knocking over two tables worth of my merchandise, and pretty much emptying the third. The canopy wasn't staked, but I had 35 pounds of weight tied to each corner. After that, it was staked, and we removed the side panels to reduce the sail area. Lesson learned. Fortunately, we were on grass, and none of the turned pieces seemed too much worse for the wear. (My previous shows have all been on asphalt. I would have had some seriously messed-up pieces today on asphalt.) I did lose a little chunk out of a root ball bowl, but it's not noticeable. (Never did find the little piece that broke off.) After that, the quality of the display went to a very hot subterranean place in a handbasket. We took down all the elevated pieces and a shelf of little hollow forms and just spread everything around flat on the tables, with marbles in the bottoms of the lighter pieces. Even then, we had pieces blowing off the tables every once in a while. All day long we had to be on alert for flying merchandise...ours and other peoples'. We helped gang up on a couple other booths that needed a hand in the wind, too. Reminded me of my old hot air balloon wrestling days back in Albuquerque.
It just doesn't seem like a lot of folks were eager to part with $150 to $250 for artwork this weekend. I had a lot of strong interest from several people, but their wallets stayed shut. So...to borrow a phrase from a friend, I'm still the proud owner of nearly everything I took to the show. I think in addition to poor weather, the general state of the economy is playing a role, and people seem to be more cautious with their spending. Between the Writer's strike and the housing market situation out here, things have been tight all over town. I'm going to have to find a place to sell this stuff, or I'll have to resort to picking names at random out of the phone book and just mailing turned pieces to strangers. I'm running out of horizontal space at the house to keep it all.
As I've said before, I'm not relying on my sales to put food on the table, so I'm more interested in trying to sell what I like to make than making what I know would sell. Still, I want to make enough money to make the work involved in doing a show worthwhile. I need to find the happy medium...something I enjoy turning, that can be sold at a price point more people can handle. Of course I'd still make the other stuff I like, but I just wouldn't be relying on sales of decorative bowls and hollow forms to pay my entry fees.
Although the sales were dismal, we still had a fun time. Probably won't be doing any more shows until springtime, and even then I think I might look for some indoor venues.