Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Spring Observations

It's been an interesting month in my craft show world.  The first Saturday of the month, I did a show that was awful for most vendors.  For some odd reason, the organizers had placed most of the jewelry vendors in the same general area, and the show was very poorly attended.  The gal across the aisle from me, who sold jewelry, didn't have her first sale until half hour before the show ended.  The couple next to her, also selling jewelry, had only 1 sale.  The guy next to me, selling photography, had 1 sale for the day.  The guy behind me, selling foodie stuff, had the worst day he'd ever had.  I didn't.  It wasn't a spectacular day, but it wasn't bad either -- given the attendance, I'd say my day was "satisfactory".

Week 2, I was selling again .. well, sort of.  I don't know how much advertising the sale had and it wasn't a big show (maybe 20-25 vendors).  And as it happened, it was perhaps the worst weather for any show I've ever done.  Winds were blowing very hard -- probably 40-45 mph -- and temps were low with a threat of snow mixed with bitter rain.  It wasn't a good day to leave the warmth of your kitchen -- so not such a good day to be a vendor.  The upside was that I was "back home" in a town where I'd lived for 6 years and some of the people who did show up were old acquaintances -- I got to do some fun catching up!  But I didn't make much money.

The Week 3 show was the worst show I've had since my second show ever (almost 5 years ago) .... the one where I didn't even make my modest booth fee.  I made my fee this time, but little more.  It was a first time show, and the organizers realized during the course of the day that they had made a couple serious mistakes.  We had no customers in the afternoon and several vendors sat with the organizers and there was great communication and brain storming.  We vendors shared some of our experiences ... what worked and what didn't at other shows we've done.  The organizers took us seriously and took notes.  Next year will be different.  The organizers had done some things right too -- they had attended several other nearby shows last fall and made contact with potential vendors, gathering a list of 200 sellers.  They sent out an email invitation to their list, but the show only ended up having 11 vendors (6 of whom sold jewelry).  I wasn't one who had received their email -- I found their application online.  The event sounded like fun and there was no mention on the app that it was their first year.  I'm suspicious that it was mentioned in the email -- and vendors didn't want to take a chance on a first year show.  Part of the problem for sellers was their location in relation to other activities -- next year, vendors will be placed between parking and other events so customers have to pass through the vendor area.  It also didn't help that we'd had a week of rainy cold weather and Saturday was gorgeous -- people wanted to be out in their yards and gardens, not out at a craft show. 

It's sounding pretty grim so far, isn't it?  It gets better .... I promise!!

So last Saturday, I was at another show.   This one, well established.  The weather couldn't have been more perfect ...mid 70's and partly sunny with a very light breeze.  The show was a mix of craft vendors and plant vendors and done at a beautiful Art and Garden Museum facility.  There were at least 150 vendors and it was our first outdoor show of the season.  It was well attended and  I had my best craft show of the year ... woohoo!!

So it made me wonder ..... is everyone having a tough spring with low sales, or is there something I should be doing differently?   I don't lack confidence in my craft -- I hear too many positive comments and I personally feel good about it -- so I'm not questioning that.  Is it the economy?  Is it the show?  Or is it me?  Have I missed some little factor that would make a big difference? 

We had a few minutes to talk to a foodie vendor, who has also been a craft vendor, doing both for many years.  She said that she was having the best year ever.  That was a little discouraging at first .. but as we continued talking, she made the observation that while her customers are still buying, the size of their individual purchases is getting smaller.  She used to sell a lot of "large" size product, but lately she's selling lots more "medium" size.  As I thought about it, I realized that's also been my experience this spring as well -- most of the sales were from my $5 trays and I haven't sold many necklaces, which have higher price tags.  The two shows where I'd done very poorly were also very poorly attended -- so there just wasn't the quantity of people to compensate for the smaller size sales.  And the two shows where I've done moderately well, it's been because I've sold a bunch of my smallest earrings. 

So how is it going with you?  How are your spring shows?  Are you finding your sales lower .. or maybe smaller?   I'm optimistic about my summer shows.  I think as more people feel more secure about their jobs, they will "loosen up" and begin spending.   A lot of people are more relaxed with their spending because they don't have to pay high heat bills.  And a lot of people have been very careful for quite a while -- they are ready to throw off caution and do a little shopping.  I hope they shop with me!!


basketsbyrose said...

So far my shows have been zero dollars to the best I've done in a few years. Why? Who knows! I did notice that you are in Michigan also, and in my area, we still have people losing their jobs, and homes.

Sue Runyon said...

Good insights. Hope your summer sales are great!

gentle adornments said...

Right now, I'm kinda flipping back and forth between MI and WI ... economy is more stable in WI, but both worst and best were WI. ???

KippysSoMature said...

excellent observations and thank you so much for sharing all this with us - it really helps to hear from those with experience :D

cksilver said...

Thanks for sharing your experiences with your craft shows. Great information as always!