Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Are Craft Shows Worth It?

Boy oh boy, have I ever had a big debate about this in my own mind!!!  It seems to me that the 'learning curve' for getting into the 'right' shows is pretty harsh, if you have no real guidance.  And, there are a lot of facets to the whole thing.  First, you have to invest in tables, chairs, display gear, signage, a tent, and perhaps a credit card machine (plus the percentage you will pay to the credit card companies...and the company your machine works through.)  All of this stuff costs quite a bit of money.  Next, if you do shows at certain venues out of state, you will be required to get a tax liscense.  For the show I did in Arizona I had to have one from the city and one from the state.  This costs money...and then when the show is over, you will have to sit down and figure out how to fill out the forms and send in some more money depending on how much you sold.  They don't care what your expenses were...you still have to pay them their money....even if you ended up on the minus side of the whole encounter. 

Next, when you are choosing shows, you might make the mistake of getting in on a buy/sell show.  This is a show where others buy stuff largely from the likes of China and then resell it.  Great way to help the American economy don't you think?  NOT!  But these shows are out there, and people just flock to them to get their cheap junk.  I and many others did one such show around Christmas in Richmond, VA.  It was awful.  I sat in the booth on the 3rd of 4 days and cried.  I and others were also very confused as we had had to send in photos of our work as if it were a juried show (a show were only handmade art n craft is allowed.)  Lost well over 700.00 on this one...over 500.00 for the booth, then hotel and gas expenses.  This kind of 'mistake' makes even trying unafordable.  Of course, I will now ALWAYS make sure my future shows are not buy/sell. 

Then, there are just a lot of lousy venues out there....you will pay money to sit there all day and not even make back the money you spent to be in the show.  It grows old quick, and you have to develop a thick skin and learn not to take it personally. 


1.  You get to meet your audience and see who it is that's interested in what you do. 
2.  You get a chance to see people 'try on,' try out your product...see the joy and excitement produced therein, or see what things might make your work more desired by the public/your audience.
3.  You can get the word out about your art/craft, and hand out cards enabling future sales through your ETSY shop, website, blog, or the next show you will be doing.
4.  You sometimes meet people that can open other doors to other avenues for you.  This can be quite helpful.
5.  You meet other artisans and crafts people who can give you valueable information on other shows they have done.  I have heard it said many times that NETWORKING IS THE KEY TO SUCCESSFUL BUSINESS IN ARTS AND CRAFTS!!!

So these are just some things I could think of off the top of my head.  Here is a link a friend sent me to more comments of this topic!  Please feel free to leave your comments here as well, I'd love to hear from you!!!


Have a good one, Cynthia


Becky said...

Hello Cyn...don't know if you remember me but we meet at a show in Virginia Beach, my name is Becky Carney, and I'm a doll maker and I do some soldered jewelry too.
Anyway, I love this post and totally agree 100 0/0.
I skipped doing any show last year and just stuck to the Internet, did pretty good and didn't miss the stresses you mentioned and set up.
I've been hoping that shows just have an ev-n-flo...an they are just on the down for now. Perhaps they will make a come back someday, cause I do too, like the meeting of other artist and e chit-chat too.
It was great meeting you when we did, and often wonder how you are doing. I think we may just to wait and hope that the so called craft shows will someday become art shows and there will be NO buy/sell where we sell our art that we work so hard to create.
For now I think the web is the way to go...most places I find here are all about the art of it and don't want anything to do with those buy/sell, they fully support and cater the the artist.
Well, good luck....oh and here is a tip you may want to try...check out www.pfattmarketplace.com they are very much into the artist and one of a kind original work. Its part of a new road I am going down.
With hope, I'll see you at the next show.
Smiles, Becky

Cynthia Elizabeth Anderson said...

Yes Becky, I totally remember you and think about you from time to time as well! Always think I might see a doll of yours in "Prims" magazine or something like that! I'm loving dolls lately, though have not made any yet:) I'm writing another post about this...about doing art shows and galleries and not so much craft shows....depending on what you sell. Anyhow, so happy you stopped in and hope to see you more in the future!!!