Wednesday, September 26, 2012


Jeff and I have survived another outdoor show. I wanted to post some photos sooner, but I woke up with a stomach bug on Monday and spent the day napping on the sofa. Tuesday, I took things slow.

We had great weather for Festival in the Park, bright sunny days and not too warm. 
 Our booth location was shady and we backed up to the trees, which meant we could store boxes and stock behind us without anyone seeing the clutter. Our booth walls are set up so we have space to exit from the rear and reach shelving that we have for extra stock. The booth to our left was a no show, so it was nice to have the extra space when setting up and breaking down.

When we were in NH in August, our host Lou, gave us four empty oxygen cylinders (he is a respiratory therapist). Jeff filled them with sand and screwed an eye bolt into the top. A great alternative to the cement blocks we were using. They blend in with the tent and tuck in out of the way.

Freedom Park in Charlotte is beautiful. The booths are set up along a walkway that goes around the small lake.
 The crowds were thick everyday. Sometimes it was hard to even walk around. Jeff forewarned me that the last time he did this show people were not buying on Friday night. He was right... we had one sale.

 Sales were slow on Saturday and I was starting to get really irritated with the festival goers questions. I lost count of how many people asked, "Did you make this stuff?", or the best one... "What do you call this?". If we got a dollar for every "nice work" or ""nice booth" comment we would have needed suitcase to take our money home in.
 As you can see in the photo above, our neighbor was a "make a candle" guy, and next to him was face painting. Unfortunately, on our side of the lake they mixed these types of vendors in with the craftsmen. The candle guy's booth was busy all weekend with kids waiting in line to make a candle in a jar or wine glass. We also had the kettle corn guy a few booths down. Sometimes the line snaked all the way down to us. Jeff has a friend in NH who is a glass artist and a few years ago he bought a kettle corn set up and started doing fairs. He said when he opens up for the day everyone says "Yay, the kettle corn guy is here!". In all his years selling his glass art, no one ever said "Yay, the glass guy is here!".
The food vendors make way more money than the artists.

Thankfully, Sunday redeemed itself. Many of the people who visited on Saturday, returned and bought something. We actually came home with money in our pocket. The next show we do will be an easier, one day show and we will be using a simple booth set up with covered tables and my abstracta unit. I sometimes question whether a fancy booth makes a difference in sales or not. I would like to know other artists thoughts on this.

A well deserved treat after a tiring weekend... good sake, Asian dumplings and spring rolls

... and now it's time to get back to work.


  1. Well I hate to be another one to say it, but you do have a really nice booth! Puts mine to shame :) these outdoor shows are just the worse, I have been reading so many blogs this year with complaints about the festival goers. The festival coordinators really should do a better job screening the vendors if they are going to have artists like you. There shouldn't be ticky tacky at a show like that, it should be artisans and craftsmen there to educate a growing uneducated art public! I have one outdoor show this year and then I am done with them. So glad your weekend picked up at the end!!

  2. it IS an awesome booth but I have come to really hate some fairs--some fairs are all fine art and you can do well and the crowd knows what is going on, at others people come to listen to rock and roll and the guy with the trailer shaped like a lemon sells five gazillion gallons of lemonade at five bucks each and it pisses you off...there is a very good fair I did this time last year and this year instead I delivered to a gallery 2 blocks from that spot and rec'd a fat check in less than an hour and the poor folks set up for the fair had very few customers PLUS a hurricane, and it sucked for them....ANYWAY...whatever :)

  3. Yes, a beautiful booth, enticing and welcoming. The photos look pretty with the booths all in a row(s). There was one outdoor show I used to do that was fine art and craft; then it seemed as though they lowered their standards for the craft end of it. It would have to be an incredible show for me to even think about it. I'm with Gary on that.
    Great that Sunday picked up and made it all worth while.

  4. Jeff did this show 11 years ago and said that there was a lot more junk this year than then. The food vendors do pay $1000 for their space, but they make a ton of money too. Like Gary said, $5 lemonade, $8 butterfly french fries... and everything is super-sized.
    It bugs me when a family comes into the booth and thinks $25 is too much for a mug... yet they just spent a small fortune on junk food.

  5. Glad you had good weather and Sunday redeemed itself, the green looks great in your booth, are those solid panels? I can't tell from the photos. I think if you are at a art show where everyone has a nice looking booth then it helps to have the same upscale look but when there's a mixed bag well staged does the trick. Many festivals have seen a reduction in artists, artisans, and true crafts and they fill the show with the more tacky stuff and many shows have lots of jewelry. I think it would help both the artists and those putting on the show if they had separate sections the two. The show here in Inverness does that and has signs pointing to the two sections, seems to work well. I can't believe how much money folks will spend on jumk food, but I think those with limited income can justify this in their minds with "well we have to eat".

  6. Linda, the wall are hollow core doors that are hinged together. The hard part is leveling the setup when you are outdoors.
    This show required a booth shot for the jury but from looking at other booths I don't think they were too picky. The League of NH Craftsmen Fair scores your booth each year, placement for the next year is partially based on your score. If you get a bad score and don't improve your booth you may not be able to come back to the show.

  7. Wow, that's the ugliest booth I ever saw. Just kidding, but you had to read something different than "nice booth." Honestly it's a beautiful set-up and I think it does make a difference to some people. Your beautiful pots will always look better in a nice booth and you will feel better about being in one all day.
    When choosing festivals I look for pictures of people in the crowd carrying bags, it usually means they bought something. If the festival is very music, beer, or kid centric I skip it (just not my crowd) as a vendor but might go hang out. And if I'm invited to a show 2 weeks before it starts I'm not going unless it's free or simply a percentage.


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