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Topic: Sort of disappointed with No-Coast Craft show  (Read 1754 times)
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YeahYeahYeah
« on: December 04, 2006 03:29:01 PM »

 Huh

Long-time lurker, thought I would step out of wallflower mode for this.

I was really excited for the show this year. Last year was super crowded, but there were so many good vendors that I didn't really care about the crowd.

This year, with the exception of a dozen or so vendors, I didn't feel like it was worth the stress of the crowds.

I thought it was rude and kind of mean to stick vendors selling the same type of item in the same corner (for example, the bottlecap magnets... there were about four tables in a row!)

The layout of the market made it hard to get around. I'm sure I missed vendors, because they were stuck all willy-nilly around the complex.

I'm curious how could the organizers get an accurate count of how many people were there just for the show? It's a marketplace with regular customers. More foot traffic means more people at the show, but that doesn't mean they were there specifically for the show.

I was surprised at how many vendors there were who were selling similar items as well. Aside from the bottlecap magnets, how many 1" buttons, marble magnets, stenciled t-shirts, and patchwork totebags can a show really sustain?

I hope the individual vendors did well. Those I spoke to didn't seem to be doing very well compared to last year.

Might I suggest that if this is done next year, that it is held in a dedicated (LARGE) space? The hustle-and-bustle of the marketplace, while vibrant, was just a little *too* much.

I love the idea of the NoCoast Craftorama. I hope it does well in the future.
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« Reply #1 on: December 05, 2006 02:07:22 AM »

Huh

I was surprised at how many vendors there were who were selling similar items as well. Aside from the bottlecap magnets, how many 1" buttons, marble magnets, stenciled t-shirts, and patchwork totebags can a show really sustain?

Well, this was my first time there and I have to say I was disappointed too. How many friggin' jewelry makers can you cram into a fair? There was just too many of the same kind of vendors there.

There were lots more crafters who could have been represented - homemade paper, homemade stamps, woodworking...it just seemed like this was more of the jewelry and easy creations show.

I bought a bunch of stuff from Emily Kirchner - her stuff was awesome! But I almost missed her booth, if mom hadn't wanted to go back for more fruit from the marketplace.  Shocked

I also enjoyed Heim's lotion booth (sp?). But it seemed like the hits were few and far between. Mom said she was shocked to find an apron vendor LOL she said she thought those went out of style in the 60s Smiley

As someone who goes to all of the shows in Chicago and usually spends a nice chunk on unique stuff, I barely bought anything here. Mom and I had a discussion on the way home about how crafters don't want to pay enough bucks for other crafter's work, and her comment seemed to sum up No Coast:

"If it looks like I could make it as easily as the products I saw sold there, I'm certainly not going to purchase it. There was very little that I saw that represented more than a hour of work to create."

She was very unimpressed with the sewing booths (I should caveat that she's a very accomplished sewer) - thought that there really wasn't anything unique and that the items were only "easy createables". She only bought a small purse, a pair of knit gloves and a scarf that matched.

At the same time, a lot of the vendors I very quickly passed by since I was looking at their merchandise and they didn't even say Hello! The only reason I stopped at the lotion booth initially was because the girl said "Hi! Would you like to try some?".

So in summary:

The bad stuff? Ten million similar jewelry creators. Way too confusing layout. Same or similar vendor products being grouped together. Too many products that looked like very little effort went into them or looked like they weren't unique (but mass produced).  A lot of the booths I noticed seemed to be swamped and could have used more helpers!

The cool stuff? Crafty Planet's booth (which I ended up visiting after the show), Heim (sp?) lotion - good prices for a quality product, Emily Kircher (map buttons - what a great idea!), the leather notebook covers and products (which I couldn't afford but looked AWESOME!), the location (free parking! woot!), and the diversity of the performers (thank god it wasn't all folk singers or something!). A handspun yarn booth - a very welcome addition, missing at most fairs.

Suggestions? A better location - something more open would be good. Also, a better rationing of vendors - as a former business expo organizer, I can tell that we only allowed a certain percentage of each type of business into the fair - after all, no one will come to a fair that's all insurance salesmen! Both of those, plus a good layout would VASTLY increase the amount of business that the vendors can do plus make it much more enjoyable for the consumers.

We also didn't see any information anywhere about how to become a vendor next year - which would have been nice considering that we were talking about what we would love to do for a fair like that!

So you weren't the only one, YeahYeahYeah. Hopefully next year will be better!
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unitus
« Reply #2 on: December 05, 2006 05:12:24 PM »

Huh.

I thought this year's No-Coast was awesome. The location was 10x better than last year, but yeah, it would be a little confusing to people who aren't familiar with the MGM. (My cousin called me from inside, and left without ever finding my booth!)

I think the quality and variety of vendors was tops. Neither of you have mentioned some of the vendors that I found really unique...like withremote, and his gallery-quality stenciled vinyl, crabtree studio, and their "steiff-like" dolls, the dude with the leather artwork (nate's custom sewing), the fine-art stained glass stuff, the screenprinted stuff, etc.. etc...

I don't know if that stuff didn't appeal to you, or if you just looked past it, but there was certainly quality, and definitely variety.

The amount of people there, and the sales made, reflect what the general public (who the craft fair is really for) thought about the shindig.

Sure, some of the crafts are simple...TO YOU...but to a lay-person who doesn't want to take an hour to sew something, etc... these things are potential treasures. I'm not sure the point of the craft fair is to "impress other crafters." And, I think the pricing of items was fair enough to reflect the amount of work that went into something. (ie: a simple item has a lower price, etc...)

Anyway, as a vendor and a shopper I loved it. Could the location be better? Yeah, of course. It could ALWAYS be better... but overall I think the No-Coast gang did an awesome job again, and will learn from everything that went on.

It's pretty cool that a community like Minneapolis could support such a cool event.
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pumpkingirl
« Reply #3 on: December 06, 2006 06:48:35 AM »

Well, as one of the organizers who spent a year agonizing over every detail of pulling off an event this size, I really appreciate your comments.

Firstly, I think unitas hits the nail on the head about the quality and diversity of No Coast vendors. There are a few that may make similar work, but trust me, it's all handmade lovingly (and not slapped together in an hour -- I can't tell you how irritating it is to hear a customer say, "I could make that" when you've spent time and energy handcrafting something), and many of them had very little left at the end of the day. We had hand-embroidered jewelry, poster art, leatherwork, paper dolls, woodcarving, kids clothes (of various styles), adult clothes, cards and paper, jewelry (of various styles), stained glass, handbags, holiday items, bath and body, yarns, felted gifts, ornaments, and much more. I have been to many of the "big time" fairs, and I say the Minnesota (and IA, IL, WI, SD, ND) crafters BLOW MY MIND they are so talented and varied.

Secondly, a lot of attention was paid to choosing a location this year. Our first year we guessed we might get 1000 people to come, and we got 2800. So this year we took a leap of faith and thought maybe 5000 would come, and over 8000 came. We called every venue from The Depot to the Fairgrounds to the Target Center. In the end, we chose MGM because they were extremely friendly and accomodating, they had enough space, and people could do more than just SHOP there. Our goal is not to just provide stuff for people to buy (although that is of primary importance), but to create an event that is about the community -- a place to have some fun and eat some food and, yes, shop. Also, because we don't charge admission, we have to find a place that is cheap. Let me tell you, some of the places I mentioned wanted to charge us around $14,000 to rent the venue for the day. Others, like the fairgrounds, are not heated in the winter. All in all, I love MGM and what they are doing for the Lake St. community. Other than it being confusing as to where people were located (which we tried to remedy by having 3,000 programs with maps printed up), I think the venue was great, and for the most part like products were spaced well apart.

So, in all we have received tons of positive feedback, and I have to say since I was also a seller (as was my mom), we had great customer feedback, great sales (my mom almost sold out) and a TON of fun. We are already keyed up to do this again next year!

In my very biased opinion, it was an amazing day. My favorite part? The talented, inspiring, supportive and friendly vendors! You guys make it worth dedicating a year of our lives to planning this big heffer of an event!!
« Last Edit: December 06, 2006 08:46:18 AM by pumpkingirl » THIS ROCKS   Logged

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MNGirl
« Reply #4 on: December 06, 2006 07:47:21 AM »

I wanted to add my impression of the craft show as a general shopper and not a crafter.  I was in no way disappointed.

First, I thought the organization of the event was extremely professional and creatively planned.  There was a person handing out maps at each entrance, and the map was great!  It was clear to me where everyone was located and there was even a path to follow.  I didn't miss anyone.

Second, I felt the variety was very good.  I didn't love every booth because it wasn't all my personal taste. But that doesn't mean the wares were in any way poor quality or boring.  Just different.  There were many booths that while I didn't find something I wanted to buy, I appreciated the quality and was impressed by the ingenuity.

Sure, there were a lot of 1-inch buttons available.  But if you liked 1-inch buttons that is great!  You could easily find one (or 10) that caught your eye and what a fun thing to get for a small price.  For instance, the booth that made personalized buttons from dictionary pages was swamped.  There was a big market for buttons and so why wouldn't several crafters want to make them?

Finally, I also loved the location.  I was excited to attend the craft show and just as excited for an opportunity to visit the Midtown Global Market.  When I was finished shopping for crafts, I was grateful for the opportunity to get a treat.  Sitting down with my coffee and dessert to watch the shoppers was almost as much fun as looking at the crafts.

I was at the show last year (which was also lovely) and I think that this was a step up, mostly due to the better location (easier parking, getting around).  It opened my eyes to all types of new and special things to buy for myself and as gifts, and I was also glad to see some of my favorite crafters back again. 

Kudos to the organizers and crafters!  Thanks for another great year, I can hardly wait for next year.
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trishie
« Reply #5 on: December 06, 2006 08:02:32 AM »

We really do appreciate the feedback; thank you for caring enough to comment whether positively or negatively.

I just have a couple of comments to make in reply.
Quote
I thought it was rude and kind of mean to stick vendors selling the same type of item in the same corner (for example, the bottlecap magnets... there were about four tables in a row!)
I'm sorry that ended up happening. We paid a LOT of attention to vendor placement --seriously, days were spent trying to make sure similar vendors weren't close together. We could only go by what vendors had put for their description and photos. For instance, few specifically mentioned they would sell bottlecap magnets, but if they did we made sure they weren't anywhere near each other.But yes we agree we'd like to avoid that, and perhaps we will try to ask vendors for a more complete and accurate listing of their intended inventories.

A couple of people also commented about the large number of jewelry vendors. Opinions may vary, but I don't think 8 jewelry vendors (that's how many accepted vendors specifically indicated they made jewelry) out of a total of 80 vendors is too many. Then of course several had jewelry in addition to other cool stuff. Again we appreciate your feedback and will keep that in mind for next year, though I repeat we can only go by what applicants say they will sell. I can tell you that was one category we struggled mightily with, because we had at least 30 applications from jewelry makers and we definitely did have a limit on the number of vendors for that--and every--category.  I personally think our jewelry vendors rocked, and represented a pretty good mix of styles.

Another person commented about the quality of the vendors vs. last year. Again, I'm biased as an organizer, but a good half of the vendors this year were also at last year's sale (that is, 80% of last year's vendors were there this year)--and I thought their stuff was at least as good, and for the most part better, than what they had shown before. I also thought there were a lot of great new vendors. I too wish we had more vendors who make craft supplies like paper, stamps, and so forth--but none applied other than the yarn vendor, and we can't have them if they don't apply. Please help us get the word out if you know people who do that. they can visit www.nocoastcraft.co m to get on our mailing list to hear about the application process. That information was also available at the No Coast information table right at the main entrance near Crafty Planet's table.

It was crowded and the layout was challenging, but we did our best to overcome the latter with signage and maps (unfortunately some of our signs were taken down), and the former was simply -- as Tracy noted -- due to having twice the number of expected crowds. we hoped to double our audience from 2005, who could have predicted we'd triple it?! (heck, when I told potential sponsors that we hoped for 5000, some thought I was exaggerating.)

Again despite the crowding and the hard-to-find spaces, most shoppers loved the venue, especially when it came to mealtime.All in all, the comments and feedback we got in our shopper surveys overwhelmingly praised the variety, novelty, and quality of the crafts displayed, so that is one thing I definitely think we did right.
The apron vendors ALWAYS do very well, so of course we love to have them, whether others think they are "modern" or not. And Willy's woodcarvings of Santas are so very unique, I just love his stuff. and embroidered jewelry? I can't even begin to make a list of all the unique stuff I saw without tripling the length of this already-long post.

I hope everyone will feel able to give positive and negative honest feedback, and I also hope you won't mind if we organizers continue to respond. I guess it's good to keep in mind what comments/complaints should be directed to which parties (e.g., organizers can try to find sufficient space and organize it well, with appropriate signage; vendors can try harder to be approachable and make sure they have enough help & support, and also provide more complete descriptions of their wares to the organizers).

From the vendors I have spoken to, it sounds like most at least met expectations, and many doubled, tripled, or even quadrupled their expected sales -- so by most accounts it was successful. but I definitely see a lot we can improve upon, and we welcome any constructive hints & suggestions (especially for spaces!). For instance, if anyone knows an in-town (or close-in) space that is at least 15,000-20,000 square feet, heated in the winter, with space for free parking for 1000 cars--AND has great food options, PLEASE let us know!  Grin
« Last Edit: December 06, 2006 08:30:39 AM by trishie » THIS ROCKS   Logged
carriem23
« Reply #6 on: January 09, 2007 05:23:16 PM »

I know this event was a while ago but I attended No-Coast at MGM and I liked the location.  I found the maps very helpful.  I know someone who was a vendor and she said she did well. 
I thought there was a decent variety and the fair seemed to be buzzing when I got there late afternoon on Saturday.  I picked up quite a few gifts for people. 
I only wish I had had more time so spend shopping at the fair.  I had about an hour to shop and get dinner at the MGM but I felt like that wasn't enough time to really see all there was to see.


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« Reply #7 on: January 31, 2007 01:43:40 AM »

I was a vendor this year and I think everyone on this topic made some great points for both the positive and negative.

I went to the first No Coast and have to say MGM was 100 times better. Since the organizers didn't expect so many people to come the first No Coast was way too crowded. MGM was great because it not only brought foot-traffic into the craft show but also allowed shoppers (and vendors!) to be exposed to a new shopping area that is potentially saving Midtown without exploiting it with chain restaurants. In addition, you could make a day out of your shopping because you could get food, a massage, some groceries, and other items in addition to shopping for crafts.

I was one of the people that made bottle cap magnets (THAT'S RIGHT! MEEE!) and I had a vendor on each side of me selling them too. We had no idea we were going to be clustered together and were bummed about it. But guess what? We all sold TONS of them.

I assure you that none of the crafts at No Coast were "slapped together." Nothing could be further from the truth, or more hurtful to someone who puts their heart into what they make. The reason a lot of the crafts are "too simple" or "too expensive" is because lots of people come to the craft shows and:

1. Expect to pay Wal-mart prices for a hand-crafted item.
2. Rarely want to pay what a more complex item is worth, so many vendors make smaller items because they sell well and customers can buy lots of little things. My partner and I make clothes, but they rarely sell because no one comes to a craft show with $50 to spend on one item. However, we sold out of bottle cap magnets, sock monkey kits, screen-printed holiday cards, etc., which were all under $5.
3. Are constantly being rude and asking you how you made something so they can go home and make it themselves. I even saw a woman with a notepad going to each table and writing down "gift ideas" she "could make at home." Why do I want to waste my hard work on people who are out to exploit my ideas?
4. STEAL, carry coffee or food around and spill it, swing their purse around and knock stuff over, let their kids play with breakable and/or expensive crafts, the list goes on. They would never do that in a store but since its a craft show they think that everything is easy to replace or that the vendors will cut them a break (which we usually do because we're trying to be nice).

I met some great people there- customers and vendors. But to those who are unsupportive or critical, I challenge them to try and get involved. Its hard work, and (for me at least) was expensive. I did it for the experience, not the money, and I would do it again. You not only craft, you have to quickly become an entrepeneur and learn customer service, advertising, marketing, pricing, networking, and merchandising.

And if No Coast were like every other craft show, not many people would come. How many raffia-hair dolls did you see? None. How many lame tea cozies? None. No Coast is a part of a new breed of craft show that offers something unique that wasn't around 20, 10 or even 5 years ago. Back in the day if my mom brought me to a craft show I dreaded looking at all that ugly crap in a mall for hours on end. But at No Coast, I saw everyone from grandkids to grandmothers, housewives to punk rockers, and there was something for all of them to enjoy there.

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