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Topic: Craft Fair--success stories and/or horror stories?  (Read 2819 times)
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« on: December 16, 2008 02:00:39 PM »

Hi, all

Of course, me being Ms. Wait-till-the-very-last-moment, I have missed all the wonderful holiday craft fairs in my area (then again, don't know when I would have had time, what with work and classes Wink ) But I am thinking I'd love to try some craft fairs next spring/ summer.  However . . . I have a few questions for anyone who has craft fair experience. Like, is theft an issue at crowded fairs?  How much do you make per day/ per fair, on average?  What was your BEST or WORST experience at a fair? 

Another question . . . in my area, they have a BIG Memorial Day celebration, that has live music, a juried art show, lots of space for various crafters and "merchants," food, kids' events . . . the whole she-bang, basically.  It sounds ideal, especially as the promoters claim that the expected attendence is 300,000 (I think that's a little high, considering the population of the city is only 100,000, but I've been there before, so I know it's a popular event.)  But . . . it's $550 to get a booth!!!!  Should I start off with smaller fairs, and work my way up, possibly doing this "big granddaddy" fair in 2010?  Or should I go for it? 
Sorry for the long post . . . thanks for reading!

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« Reply #1 on: December 19, 2008 08:55:04 AM »

If it were me, I'd get some smaller fairs under my belt before applying for the big one.  You need to do some research before plunking down that amount of cash.  For a fair that requires that much for a booth fee, they'll be expecting applicants from all over, with lots of experience, and lots of lovely, professional-looking photos in their app.  Talk to people who've done the fair in the past.  Was it worth the investment?  What was the application process?  Do they have any idea how many applicants there were?  What kind of inventory did they need?  With a booth fee of that size, I'd expect that people do really well and that competition would be keen.  We have a local music festival that commands a $750 booth fee.  Applications come from all over the country, and the application process is complex.  However, those who get in make a ton of money.

I live in a city that has several monthly juried art markets, and I do all of them.  Booth fees average $75.  I've been doing at least three markets per month year round for the past two years.  Sometimes it's fabulous; sometimes you're lucky if you make $100 after booth fee. This year I've averaged between $750--$1000 a market, though I've made as little as $80 amd as much as $2800.  Summer, when it's 90 degrees and 100% humidity, and the first two months after xmas I generally do crap.  So much depends on things out of your control, like weather, booth location, how well the market/festival is advertised and organized,  and competition from other events going on.   Start small and get your name out there.  After doing the same market a couple of times, people remember you and look for you.  I've learned so much from other artists about what markets to do, which to avoid, tips to increase exposure, etc.  I've done huge festivals and done amazingly, and huge festivals and done bupkis.  You just never know.  You need to jump in and see how it goes.  If it's the mac daddy festival you're yearning for, focus on well-known juried markets rather than small fairs to get started.  Don't get discouraged, talk to other vendors, look at what other artists are offering, reconsider your own inventory, and hang in there.  After youve got some exposure and experience, go for the big one.

Oh, and in two years, I've had only one small theft, no bounced checks, and no declined credit cards
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« Reply #2 on: December 23, 2008 05:45:05 PM »

Thank you so much, Jefferson!  You gave me a lot to think about--now to do some research . . .

Happy Holidays!!! Smiley

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