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Topic: First show a bust... any advice from Boston area veterans?  (Read 1414 times)
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« on: September 11, 2007 12:09:29 PM »

Hi there,

Any advice or encouragement welcome on this as my husband and I are pretty discouraged after our first show this weekend.  Cry

For background: we designed wooden stools, coat hook racks and bookends that he made in our basement and I decorated with my illustrations. We thought we had priced things decently ($30-35 for the hooks, $60 for the stools, $30 for the bookends, a $7 crayon holder as our cheapie item). If you're interested you can see a few pix here: http://jcdillustration.servehttp.com. More about the festival (Medford Arts Festival) at www.medfordarts.org/MAF2007.

I guess I'm very very new to the craft world but I didn't quite expect that our first show would turn out so poorly. We sold one crayon holder. The festival was Saturday which anyone who was in the area knows was miserably hot. Otherwise it should have been perfect - an Arts Festival with live music, free kids activities and free italian ice and snacks from Trader Joe's.

So we're pretty much blaming the weather but now we have all this stuff we didn't sell. Luckily it's before Christmas gift season but we are a little wary and don't want to jump into anything now that we don't know much about. We also hope not to throw good money (and time) after bad.

We are thinking that any affordable (fee under $100) show/venue that attracts families and grandparents would be ideal. There should be a lot of those within a 45 minute drive of Boston, right? A well-attended school or church holiday fair would be awesome as it would even support a good cause. We just really don't know where to start.

So... If anyone has a beat on something that we could look into that would really help us out. Or even just some honest advice on our product and pricing. I'll try to put more pix of the product up later tonight (the website has mostly the illustrations) I promise I won't get all defensive on you. Wink.

Thanks so much in advance. This seems like such a suppportive community (started in Somerville, no less) and I am looking forward to hearing from you.

« Reply #1 on: September 11, 2007 03:06:17 PM »

I think I have a little input, and I hope it helps.
I am a veteran crafts fair shopper, in NH.  There are a couple things that I've noticed over the years:
If it's really hot, or really rainy, people tend not to buy things that look like they'd be heavy or bulky to carry.  I noticed their pictures from the year before had mostly smaller, easier to carry things.

That in mind, it's especially true for a fair that's geared towards family and then especially for children.  I almost feel that although you are selling items that are geared towards children, that this was probably the wrong kind of venue for you.  A lot of families will come for the activities and then leave.  I used to work at the Currier Museum and it happened all the time.  They would set up a family activity and expect the gift shop to get swamped, and it just wouldn't happen.  People would be ready to get their kids home after the activity would be done.

Another thing is that, though I don't know how common it really is, my family and other people I know would often go for ideas, and try to make the things that they see.  Or, in the case of your hooks and stools, buy a cheap version and try to embellish it themselves.
I have a feeling, though, that you'll do better as it gets closer to the holidays.  I think your illustrations are adorable, you wouldn't really see them every day.

I don't really have any advice on fairs in the area with lower booth fees, but I don't think you should give up.  My honest opinion is that it looks like it was the wrong venue for you.

« Reply #2 on: September 11, 2007 08:01:53 PM »

Thank you very much for your thoughtful comments and encouragement spareGus. Your comment about families wanting to get home as soon as the activity is over does ring true as I have a 2-yo girl and I can relate to that!!

For further context, I have posted new pix on my website of the finished products and the display (http://jcdillustration.servehttp.com).

(doh!) I just noticed that there is another post in this folder for a church fair in Westford in November that looks promising. But any other venue suggestions from anyone would be very welcome!

Good night!! =)
« Last Edit: September 12, 2007 07:52:28 PM by JCDillustration » THIS ROCKS   Logged
« Reply #3 on: October 29, 2007 02:16:13 PM »

You may already know about these ideas, but I'll post anyway:

The Bizarre Bazaar happens every December somewhere in the Boston area.  I believe their sellers' application window is closed, but it could be an idea for hitting the Christmas craft-market next year: http://www.bazaarbizarre.org/boston.html

Also, there is a wonderful store in Davis Square, Somerville, called Magpie that sells local artists' work.  I believe the owner(s) of that store began craftster.org.  But you could see if they'd be interested in displaying any of your work, and perhaps sell some items there without having to woman- or man- a booth.  http://magpie-store.com/
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« Reply #4 on: February 12, 2008 08:21:55 PM »

i saw a sign at a craft show at topsfield fairgrounds that said "i know u can make it, but will you"  i think that says it all.
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