Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Working the Shows Wednesday - Not ready for publicity?

I'm disappointed. I had hoped to present some pics today of a crafter that I came across at a recent show. She does painted ornaments. Unfortunately, she is a bit blog-shy (something like camera-shy) and did not want photos taken, telling me she was not ready to be "blogged." I tried to convince her publicity was a good thing but she stood firm. She said she'd take my card and "get back" to me. I did find her website is not active at this time, either.

To be honest, I really wanted to show you her display pieces. They were a little different and gave a really nice, uniform and easily viewed appearance. She had taken chicken wire and framed it in wooden frames measuring about 2 1/2' x 5' (just "eye-balling" it here) and then attached the frame to a base of plywood about 8" wide, angling the frame like an easel. She had a weight (looked like they were possibly cinder blocks covered in canvas) sitting on the back edge of the base for support. The multiple frames sat side-by-side on her table tops and were further secured with bungee cords holding them to the frame of her tent. The ornaments were then hung in neat orderly rows on the frames.

The only drawback I could see was the time it would take to hang all those ornaments. While they are finished with a glaze or shellac that makes them pretty sturdy, they are still fragile enough that they need to be packed individually.

The product itself was well done. the items were handpainted and then "appliqued" with centered pictures. I would have used the term "decoupaged." She had a huge selection of dog breeds, cats and more, and a variety of popular "characters." (For reasons that will become obvious, I have carefully remained vague in my description of the product to protect her anonymity.) Prices were very reasonable. (Why wouldn't she want some publicity?)

There were a few things about her display of note though (other than the stands):

First, she had "something for everyone's interest." This is a great way to make sales. Everyone collects or "loves" a particular item. If they can get that picture on a unique item they are strongly tempted to buy.

Secondly, and most importantly, a tremendous amount of her stock featured licensed characters and figures. Did she have permission to use those licensed characters or their likenesses? This is a dangerous territory for small crafters. Large companies like Disney/Pixar and Nickelodeon protect their licensing rights in a very big way. Yes, they have pursued and enforced this against the "little guy" and they've won.

Now, you might be thinking they wouldn't bother with a little old community craft market. You'd be wrong.

I know, for a fact, that both of the aforementioned companies do roam the craft shows and the online markets looking for violations. One of those companies actually hires craft exhibitors to do this for them while showing at such events. They are equipped with fill-in-the-blank Cease and Desist Orders to distribute to violators and these are enforceable.

They will note the crafter's name, show, what products are being presented using licensed characters, date it and "formally" serve the crafter with the legal document. The crafter must immediately pull all of those items from their tables and displays. This can be enforced by the local police authorities. They then report back to the company who pursues it from there. Fines can be hefty.

We'd all love to capitalize on the popularity of Dora, the Yardigans, Garfield and such, but the cost can be very high. I suggest you don't do it. The sweet, elderly lady selling dolls or candles or whatever next to you could be a spy!!

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