search  current discussion  categories  business - production 

selling seconds and the sugarloaf arts and crafts show

updated sat 13 dec 97


Gregory F. Wandell on wed 10 dec 97

Hi all!

Thanks for all the replies. Since I have been getting conflicting
advice about the subject, I'll play it safe and leave them at home.
Perhaps, I'll have a seconds sale from the back of my motorcycle -- I
don't have a pickup, Richard.


Kris Baum wrote: "I saw your posting about the "major" D.C. area show
and wondered which one it is? Are you going to be at the Gaithersburg
fair grounds next weekend (don't think it is a Sugarloaf show, but a
competitor, maybe?). Just curious because I'm local and I'd like to
look you up if I go."

Actually, it is a Sugarloaf show this weekend (December 12, 13 and
14th). I am in Building 6, Booth 201 (indoors, thank goodness).
Marathon hours on Friday and Saturday from 9:30 am to 9:30 pm and
somewhat reasonable hours on Sunday from 9:30 am to 6:00 pm. Anyone,
please stop by -- I love to talk about ceramics! Also, I need all the
support I can get -- moral and otherwise.

You also wrote: "Haven't gotten to the point where I have the nerve to
apply to a major show (nor the bucks to pay for the booth!), but I'm
curious about others who do!"

Oh, I had the nerve all right. Submitting slides takes no nerve at
all. Realizing that you may be accepted and have major obligations when
you don't have a clue takes nerve. This was the first show I entered and
got accepted into. I took my pots to a local (DC) photographer, had him
hide the chips and cracks, and sent them in with a song and a prayer. I
didn't even have a booth, or booth slides, but wrote something to the
effect that if accepted, I would have a "professional" booth. Do I have
one? I hope so. Am I nervous? Oh, yea. Would I do it again? Hmm,
ask me Monday.

My personal experience is that craft fairs are easy to get into (not
realistic, I know) but it seems the hard part is producing quality items
in the quantity necessary not to look too stupid. I hate looking
stupid. I would rather fail with some nameless and faceless jurist than
a potential customer.

Anyway, thanks for all the comments and interest.


Gregory F. Wandell
Bethesda, Maryland

Richard Aerni on fri 12 dec 97

Gregory F. Wandell wrote:
> ----------------------------Original message----------------------------

> Thanks for all the replies. Since I have been getting conflicting
> advice about the subject, I'll play it safe and leave them at home.
> Perhaps, I'll have a seconds sale from the back of my motorcycle -- I
> don't have a pickup, Richard.
> ==================Hi Greg,

Well, a motorcycle would make it rather unique...I didn't mean to be
excessively flip in my response to your question, but I do have a
tendency to preach, and I've decided that in general, brevity and silence
are preferable to too many sermons. However, let me add a few more notes
of explanation as to why I wouldn't sell seconds at a "quality" retail
crafts show.

First and foremost, it is explicitly forbidden in the ground rules of
most quality shows. The promoters have spent much time and money
positioning their show as a quality show, showing "the finest in
contemporary crafts" (to coin a phrase), and to have a show where each
exhibitor has their own "bargain basement" does not shout out "Quality!"
Their own reputation, and that of the show, is tied up with the quality
of the work shown by the exhibitors. My guess is that not too many high
calibre exhibitors will be back to a show that has a flea market
atmosphere. Also, when you may pay fees as high as $1200 for your booth,
you don't want to be next to someone showing rotten mugs at $2 a pop. If
the show is truly a high calibre show, then it means that you have gotten
in, while several other potters were probably rejected. You are expected
to show work of the same quality shown in your jury slides, and to do
otherwise is not only to show under false pretences, but also does a
disservice to those whose work was rejected.

There is also the mentality of the customer to consider. Many customers,
when confronted with the possibility that there may be discounted
merchandise tucked amongst the normally priced ware, will spend all their
time and effort trying to find that bargain pot. I've customers who've
been to my studio seconds sales, when they see me at a local craft show,
bring pot after pot up to me, inquiring if it is a second, whether this
iron spot is a flaw, isn't that fingerprint on the handle a
problem...just hoping that they'll find that second, or even better, find
one that escaped my attention. Awfully painful to experience. And
consider the patron who has paid anywhere from $5 to $15 to get into a
show (not uncommon)...they are hoping to see the first-stringers showing,
not the scrubs.

And then there is the issue of how you present yourself to the public and
to your colleagues. I won't go into this one, but it is something to
consider, as it is fairly important, in my opinion.

Now I've gone and done it, gone and preached again! Lest you think I
feel myself overly high and mighty, this might be the time to announce
that I'll be holding my "Studio Open House and Seconds Sale" this

Richard Aerni
Bloomfield, NY