Craft Show

Summer Solstice

Posted by on Jun 21, 2014 in Craft Show, Holiday | 0 comments

It’s the Summer Solstice today – longest day/shortest night.  If it isn’t already obvious from past postings, I really like the solstices and equinoxes.  It is something about their oppositional balance that I find appealing. So, on this first official day of summer, I spent most of it in the studio working on snowman plates.  It was purely coincidental that what we were working on Christmas-themed pots today.   However, we struggled last year to keep up with the requests for Christmas plates because we didn’t start making them until September.  This year, I am determined to avoid that craziness.  In addition to that,  Carolina Artists’ Colony (one of the stores that hosts our pots) is planning a ‘Christmas in July’ event that we will be participating in; so we have to get the plates done. We just finished the spring shows and our next show isn’t until August which gives us a bit of a break.  The spring show season was a success.  We had wonderful weather for all the shows, excellent booth locations, a great response from new patrons, and visits from  many people who bought pots at past events.  Our sales were excellent and many of the new glazes on our small bowls were well received.  Shows are a lot of work to prepare for and to do; but, they are well worth it when we have such a...

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First Place!

Posted by on Sep 29, 2013 in Craft Show | 0 comments

This is show season.  Although, we participate in shows throughout the year, the fall is our busy time.  And, this year, we have a full docket. Our most recent show was in Fayetteville at the International Folk Festival where A Bit Off Center won first place for quality of work and display!  It was really an exciting surprise that was accompanied by a certificate and a...

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How to Have a Good Show – Part 2

Posted by on Oct 10, 2012 in Craft Show | 0 comments

Once you have considered the factors that impact a craft show and have selected one to attend, there are several things that can be done to make the  show successful. Have good work.  There is no substitute to having a well executed craft.  If your work isn’t technically accomplished, you may not be ready to sell.   Establish a set of criteria for what is sellable and sell only your best work at shows. Have a clean, professional display.  Your display needs to make sense to passers-by.  You have few seconds of their attention before they move on.  Create a display that showcases your work in a way that is consistent with who you are. Have a banner with your name, what you do, and where you are from.  Hang the banner so it is easy for passers-by to see.  I have attended some shows that were so crowded that I wasn’t able to see the crafts in the booth.  But if a booth had a banner that indicated what craft was being displayed, I knew whether I wanted to fight the crowd and visit the booth. Mark prices on you pieces so no one needs to ask.  This will help put buyers at ease and they will look longer.  If the prices are out of a person’s range, then they will move on and free the booth space for other customers. Take credit cards and have signs indicating that you take credit cards.   Most people don’t carry cash and depending on the price range of your work, credit cards can make a difference in sales. Have good business cards and give them out generously.  We have been contacted a year or more after an event because of a card.  In addition to a business card, it is valuable to have a ‘story card’ – information about who you are and how your work is done.  This can be a separate card or on the back of a business card.  People buy handmade for the story. Have adequate cash for making change.  Consider your prices and have the appropriate cash to make change.  Use a cash register, money box, or cash apron when conducting transactions.  It seems unprofessional to dig money out of your pockets or purse. Be available but don’t be a stalker.  Sit in your booth and be attentive.   I try to do things that do not completely consume me so I can be available to anyone who comes into the booth – like knitting or light reading.  I  welcome the visitors and let them know that I am available if they have questions.  And, never leave the booth empty – this is easy for me because Julie is always there to relieve me.  If I have a phone call, I step outside the booth  to take it and leave Julie in the booth. Stay for the entire show.  Most shows have strict rules about early departures.  Because the show times are part of the contract between the show sponsors and me, neither of us should cut it short under normal  circumstances.  Stay to the end.  In fact, some of the best sales of the day come toward the end of a show. Have a system to keep track of sales.  There is no way for you to know how much you sold if you don’t have a means to track what you have sold.  It is best to figure this out how to do this before the show starts. Know the show logistics.  Know when the show starts and be ready for it about...

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How to Have a Good Show – Part 1

Posted by on Oct 6, 2012 in Craft Show, How-to, Selling Pottery, Shows | 2 comments

This is my busy season – between September and mid-December, I have 4 available Saturdays.  I say available but what I mean is I have four Saturdays that are available for studio work.  The rest of the weekends are obligated to visitors, trips, and craft shows.   I have been thinking about craft shows because I was recently asked to evaluate some local shows.  Also, I saw an advertisement for an indoor craft show that claimed weather would not be a factor.  The truth is, weather is always a factor.  Even if the show is hosted indoors, when the weather is bad, people don’t come. Shows are good for many reasons – so it really depends on what your goals are.  If you need exposure or recognition, there are shows that are good for that.  If you want to support a charity, then there are shows that provide that opportunity.  If you need to make money, then some shows can help you do that better than others. There are services that evaluate shows for artists.  For a small fee, they provide show history, average attendance, event description, average sales for various price ranges, show fees, and application information.  All of this information can help artists select shows they think will be successful shows for them.  However, in my opinion (which is what you get if you read this blog), there are things that I can do to contribute to a successful show and there are things that I can’t control that will make or break a show. Elements of a successful craft show that are out of my control but should be considered before deciding to participate are: Advertisement – I believe it is the show sponsor’s responsibility to advertise the show dates and times.  All shows expect the artists to promote the show by letting people know that the artist will be there.  Although this is a reasonable expectation, if it is the only means of advertisement, then the show is usually poorly attended.  A few ways for you know this in advance of the show is to research how long the show has been held and how many artists return each year.  Also, go to the show the year before to evaluate the crowd size and feel for the event to see if your craft would be well received there. Weather – Unfortunately, weather is a factor that you won’t know how it will affect the show until after the show.  (But I guess you could consult the Farmer’s Alamanac before committing to a show.)  This year, we participated in two craft shows that set attendance records because the weather was beautiful.  Craft shows are a numbers game – the larger the attendance, the greater opportunity to make sales.  And, people come if the weather is nice.  But if it is cold and rainy, fewer people come even if the show is indoors.  Some shows are ‘rain or shine’ which means there are no refunds for fees because the ‘show will go on’.  Consider the time of year and level of risk you are willing to take.  Remember, if you do enough craft shows, eventually there will be wash-outs. Distractions – Shows that offer various forms of entertainment are a mixed bag.  Although bands, amusement park rides, chicken-plate dinners, and children’s activities may get people to come to the show, it doesn’t mean they are purchasing handmade items.  But, it can provide a lot of exposure. Entry fees – Some shows charge an entrance fee.  It seems most of these shows are indoors and the fees off-set some of the show costs.  The theory is that any customer...

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Inventory Maintenance

Posted by on Aug 22, 2012 in Craft Show, Maintenance, Philosophy | 0 comments

“I would rather be prolific than perferct.” – Abel James Since the Bele Chere show, Julie and I have been throwing together when our schedules allign and independently at other times.    This is our show season so we have pots to make.  This is also the time of year we look at our stores and begin rotating pots and increasing inventory in anticipation of the holidays.  (Holidays!?  It is still the sweltery summer – it has taken a few years but we realize that the holidays come so quickly that they might as well be next week). How does this work?  I look over the sales and evaluate what sold – largest number sold, highest grossing, average price point, etc.  Then we consider the customer comments and our inventory.  As a consummate list maker, I make a list of what we need.  Then we divy up the list.  Although we throw together and independently, we glaze together.   After a few years of doing shows and knowing what we like to make, we had a good idea of what we needed to work on this past winter.   At this point, in order to get ready for the next show, we make pots to replace the pots we sold at last show.  The fall is a very busy time for both of us (we average a show per month), so it is much easier if we can work this way. I talk to a lot of developing potters who often say to me that they don’t want sell because they don’t want to have to make particular items.  Actually, I hear this from a lot of hobbiest in various media.  And, I understand it.  If it doesn’t bring you joy, than don’t do it.  But for me, the shows drive me to make pots and the result is I make more pots of better quality.    For some potters, Christmas functions as a driving force for them to get into the studio and work.  I have seen Christmas lists that would overwhelm a crew of elves.  But, the list keeps the potters focused and throwing.  Shows do this for me and they give me the opportunity to make more pots than I could otherwise...

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Back to work

Posted by on Jul 31, 2012 in Craft Show | 0 comments

Bele Chere is over and it is back to work in the studio.  It was a good show but it was different than anticipated.  Although there were lots of artisans, there were also bands and street entertainment (my favorite of which was Tomb Nelson and the Stillwater Hobos).  It felt like a summer street festival.  The weather was summery – complete with a brief afternoon thunderstorm on Friday afternoon.  Out pots were complimented and our booth was lovely with the new banner and tablecloths.  Now we are back to work making pots – which is why we attend craft shows in the first...

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