search  current discussion  categories  events - fairs & shows 

craft show quandary, cathartic and a bit lengthy.

updated mon 30 sep 02


Pat Southwood on sun 29 sep 02

Hallo Cheryl and others,

I know how you feel, when I did an event in London earlier this year (
Country Living Magazine Spring Fair in Islington ) I was opposite a stand
that was giving away free alcohol...................Did they see me? With
the goal of free booze ahead of them?
Did they heck as like.
To be fair to the "Tuaca" salesmen they very kindly kept all of us nearby
exhibitors nicely oiled all week, which given the amount of money we all
lost was just as well.
30,000 people, average spend 179 It cost 12 just to get through the door.
How could we lose, we all thought.
If one more person had asked me what sort of paint I used then I would have
struck them.
On the opposite side was a pleasant lady who painted duck on
They did spend money, but it was on stuff that could either be consumed at
the time or was very portable. Scarves, jewellry, gardening prerequesites,
bloody pot pourri and hand made soap with faffing flowers stuck in it. The
stench when you came through the door was nauseating.
In the champagne bar a brisk trade was taking place with champers at 6 per
The guys who were selling expensive prepackaged sarnies chucked the unsold
ones in the bin at the end of the day, one of the potters saw, scooped them
up and walked up and down Islington High St handing them out to the
dossers, about 20 packets..............
Dont EVER do a gig without checking it out YOURSELF the year before. Only
you can see where you would be placed in the scheme of things, lurk near
someones stand who is comparable to your work and see how many of their bags
you see walking around the room. Dont rely on anyone elses assessment of
these events.
There are some logical conclusions I have come to, At an event that can only
be reached by car, people will buy pots. They can go and put them in the car
and carry on buying.
Anywhere that is well supplied with public transport routes or coach trips
will NOT BE GOOD NEWS for pot purchases
People will be on a day out and wont want to have much to carry home. Also
they have had to pay out for transport and entrance fee, now they expect to
be entertained....... bless them.............
The few people that had some modicum of good taste appreciated my work (ahem
;) ) and I gave away squillions of postcards...................
No follow up from that then, so far anyway.
I have just gone and told my husband the bit about the puddles...........
Whatever you do remember that the promoters of these events have made their
money before you even get out of bed, events dont return year after year if
it is not worth their while, its a lot of work. Try to read the blurb with
the same clarity of mind that you would apply to an estate agents
description of a bargain property.................
No disrepect to anyones profession, we are all trying to make a living and
bigging things up is all part of that.
Maybe things are different in the states, ceramics seems more popular
Best Wishes
Pat, U/K

----- Original Message -----
From: "Cheryl Hoffman"
Sent: Sunday, September 29, 2002 6:49 PM
Subject: Craft Show Quandary

> Hi All,
> Need some general thoughts and input on the craft fair situation in
> neck of the woods, Pasco County Florida.
> I followed all the threads on craft shows a few weeks ago and I
> don't want to start that whole thing up again. At the same time, some
> of the country are populated by people that are not likely to buy
> my area. The majority of the people want a nice shiny
> day-glow plastic bowl from Big Lots for 99 cents. This is not an
> off-the-cuff remark. I have spent the last month watching what people in
> this area buy. I have actually stood around in houseware departments of
> local stores, gift shops, flea markets, and malls, just watching what
> the consumers' eye. I think security at the local stores had me pegged
> casing out the joint...I had actually worked out my "research" explanation
> my head in case I was approached.
> The local "Big" flea market had a craft show this last weekend. I
> laughed after looking around...the name of the fleamarket has USA in it's
> name but you'd be hard pressed to find one item that was made here. But
> a good size market, probably 350 vendor spaces. Twenty bucks for the
> for the craft vendors. I figured not much to lose in the name of
> so I set up a table with my pots. We had a total of 12 craft vendors, all
> but 3 had the equivalent of pink crocheted catsup covers. Of the three
> craftspeople, (I considered myself in this group), we made one token sale
> each all weekend. The lady selling the imitation Barbie dolls with
> canvas crocheted dresses was the hit of the show.
> This is Jeff Foxworthy Land, folks. I know the majority of the
> that passed my table didn't need pots 'cuz they're still lapping out of
> puddles! I was set up on a corner, and directly behind me was a permanent
> vendor with a double booth that had those lighted moving waters pictures
> flashing lights set up on the wall about 8 foot high. As people turned
> corner, I watched their eyes go right over my table to bright shiny lights
> high on the wall over me, stumble around my table to get to his entrance,
> stare, heads up, mouth open, stumble out his exit, which was PAST my
> Their retinas were still reacting to the bright lights, so they couldn't
> seen my pots anyway.
> I will say that the people that did look at my pottery all were
> complimentary and immediately drawn to the Waterfall Brown bowls. Thanks
> again for Ron & Jon! I think at the right venue they'll sell first.
> So, here's the dilemma. I can't yet afford the big shows in the
> cities...the $300. or so booth fee, the $800. tent, the travel expense,
> that they require are just not in the pottery budget at this time.
> One of the biggest yearly events around here is the Hudson Seafood
> Fest. I know there will be a lot of trinket vendors, stuff on a stick,
> carnival rides, etc. But they also bill a craft fair, hopefully in a
> set-apart area. They also claim that last year their attendance was
> The booth fee is only $75. and you don't have to have a special tent.
> I've just recently moved back to this area, I've never been to their event
> I don't know what the craft vendors had last year. No lie...I've been
> to talk to the organizer but he runs Ike's Garage and every time I call
> under a car! I know this should tell me something.
> At the same time, 20,000 is a lot of people passing by and I'm sure
> we'll have a lot of snow birds (Northerners) down by then. So, any
> out there? Am I just setting myself up for failure?
> Cher Hoffman, whose husband just told her she's gonna get in trouble for
> "lapping out of puddles" remark. Before anyone jumps on me...IT'S A JOKE,
> OK?
> Send postings to
> You may look at the archives for the list or change your subscription
> settings from
> Moderator of the list is Mel Jacobson who may be reached at