Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Working the Shows Wednesday - Mid-Season Show Assessments

Normally holiday merchandise starts to move in mid-September but this year didn’t seem get rolling then. It looked to be a fairly poor season. Crafters made forecasts based on those sales and the general economy.

Mid-October shows were still rocky. There were a few bright spots among some dismal reports. While most were still doing some outdoor shows, the weather was definitely acting up and affecting some of those events.

November has brought a change in the markets. People have begun to buy and they have REALLY begun to buy. I’m getting a lot of nice reports from established crafters doing a number of established shows.
One friend scrapped several shows due to weather issues. Extreme winds can do a lot of damage to both merchandise and display equipment. One of those she left early on the first day of a 2-day show had seemed to start off well but the winds picked up and ran at a steady 25-30 mph by early afternoon when she pulled the plug. At that point she had covered her expenses but was fighting a losing battle with the weather. Many of the exhibitors had already gone for the day. The weather did not let up and they did not even attempt to set up on the second day. So, basically that one was a wash.

Her product line is mostly fabric and includes both practical household items as well as stuffed toys and animals which are predominantly designed as “collectibles.” She makes a few toy items also. Some products are priced in the $5 range as “bread and butter” type sales but they do average more in the $20-$35 area.

Her next show is a long one, beginning the first of November and running through a 3-week span. (Still going at this posting.) Sales have been steady - not overwhelming but not bad, either. In her part of the country (extreme Southwest) this is still an outdoor event so weather still plays a factor. There will be some “closed” days due to weather so she won’t be able to assess the success of the show until next week. She‘s thinking this is the best she‘s done there in the three years she‘s been doing this show!

She snuck in an extra one day show amidst the long one and says sales were great! At that show, she mainly had a number of her smaller less expensive items and quite a few tree ornaments. Folks were definitely there to shop.

**Latest update from this friend - she is amazed at her sales this year. The best she’s seen in the six years she has been living and selling in that part of the country! She’s starting to run out of stock and is frantically working to stock her shelves! She’s asking, “What recession?”
The same weekend as that first show, another pal in another part of the country (upper Midwest) did a 2--day show that was fantastic! This particular area of the country was one of the hardest hit by the recent economic crisis and recovery there will take years but folks were out and not just attending the show but buying in full force. She’s been doing shows for many years and declared this a very successful and profitable weekend.

This crafter does mostly painted wooden items ranging from tree ornaments, to household décor items, toys and a lot of seasonal pieces. Her prices range from $5 through about $45 for the most part.

Her next show, a smaller one was also a resounding success. She’s been very pleasantly surprised. Luckily, she and her husband/partner have worked steadily through the last few months and, although the house looks like a warehouse, they have had no trouble keeping stocked for these great sales. They can keep up by working at a reasonable pace between weekend shows.

They are currently gearing up for the “BIG” show they do over the Thanksgiving weekend. Hopefully the big sales will follow them through that event, too!
Yet another acquaintance (this one in the Southeast) began showing at a weekly one-day market November 1st and will continue exhibiting there through the holiday season. The opening weekends for her have been very successful forcing her to frantically work to restock. She amazes me with her production pace! Her products are all fabric creations and range from $5 through $100 (some even higher). She has been more than pleasantly surprised by her success there.

She also has another craft show (not part of the weekly market) scheduled for this week and has been gearing up for what she anticipates to be higher sales. A recent transplant, this is her first selling season in that part of the country so she does not have an established following there.
Rounding out this week’s reports is one from yet another friend in the New York City area. She’s completed several street type festivals and one boutique style show within the last few weeks. Her items are more high-end, ranging from $45-$250 (utilitarian fabric creations) and sales have been “satisfactory” but not overwhelming. She has, however, made many contacts and has received some follow-up orders. A true assessment can’t be made until the holidays are over as folks tend to go home and consider purchases of this size before making the actual transaction.
Last week I told you about the big Autumn Festival in Omaha. I witnessed many sales being made at that event and they seemed evenly distributed among the various crafters. No one type of item gobbling up all the sales.

This is not to say there have not been a number of duds among these gems. I’ve also heard from a number of folks reporting none or very dismal sales at more than one show. Quite a few of the older, established shows were canceled this year for whatever reasons. (I have to assume the economy has made a few blows.) This left many veteran artists and crafters searching for new venues.

Many of us are still waiting for the swarm to hit our online shops. I’m holding out judgment there until after the Thanksgiving weekend. Personally, I am trying to gear up for that anticipated surge. In the meantime, I am working my way through the sales coming from many of my repeat customers who have kindly started their Christmas shopping early.

Here’s wishing y’all a busy sales season starting now!!!

1 comment:

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