Monday, August 20, 2007

Upgrading to a better canopy - Part 1

When I started preparing for art shows a few years back, my objective was to minimize my entry investment so that I didn't lose too much money if things completely flopped on me. In order to achieve that goal, I had to make sacrifices in several areas. One of those areas was my canopy. With the better canopies running $1000 and up, getting a cheap ez-up style canopy for $200 was a great way to reduce my up front costs. However, upgrading to a better canopy was always on my agenda.

I've had a few good shows recently, and this run of good fortune has allowed me to build up a bit of savings in my bank account. With the bank balance growing, it certainly is tempting to walk away with the profit (or should I say, recoup some of money I've previously invested). However, I decided to reinvest the money back into my business and buy a better canopy.


Pressing my luck

In anticipation of rain problems, I've already made some modifications to my booth. Although they've worked so far, they are far from perfect.

Even with the modifications, I've already had one incident of rain leakage. Luckily I got off easy on that one, only suffering minor damage to about $20 worth of mat board. Since then, I've been keeping an eye on the weather before each show, paranoid of another storm. A few shows ago, I went out and bought some waterproof spray (2 bottles at $8 each) and recoated my canopy. I've been calling my wife at home each night before I close, to have her take a last minute look at the radar. If it looked like something might happen, I put away my expensive items each night.

At my last show, there was rain scheduled for Sunday, but as of Saturday night it wasn't forecast to show up until mid Sunday afternoon. I figured all was well, but the next morning I woke up, checked the radar, and already the area was covered by a giant green blob. Fearing the worst, I made the 45 minute drive from home to the show, leaving an hour earlier than planned so I had ample time to clean up whatever mess there was. Luckily for me, the showers ended up being scattered, and they completely missed the show area. Certainly a relief, but I think I've pushed my luck too far. And besides, I could have used that extra hour at home.

Other reasons to upgrade
In addition to being paranoid about the rain, there are other issues with the cheaper canopy. First, the legs wobble a bit, and it's sometimes difficult to get everything setup straight so that the 4 walls zip up. Even when you do get it right, all the walls seem like they are each about 1/2 inch too small, so zipping up the last corner is a real pain.

My canopy came with one of the nicest awnings I've seen on an ez up. Most ez-ups have no awning or a cheap awning, but mine has an awning thats very nicely built. Unfortunately, the walls won't zip up when the awning is retracted, so you have to leave it up. Sometimes thats not a great idea, though. Especially in windy weather, or when you are concerned another patron may drive through and hit it with a car. In those cases, I needed to unscrew the awning supports from the frame and reattach it the next morning.

Attaching the walls each time is a pain. They velcro around the frame in 5 places on each wall. It's time consuming and tedious. To make it easiest, I've resorted to attaching these walls before I fully extend the legs. However, that doesn't work on windy days, and I'm left spending 20 minutes attaching the velcro from the top of a ladder (a bit awkward, tiring, and stressful).

Some of the velcro that holds the top in place has started to wear down and come loose in windy weather. I've sewn on some additional straps with snaps to counteract this, but it's not perfect.

I'm sure there are a few other reasons I'm missing, but I think the point has been made clear enough. The cheap canopy fulfilled its purpose and got me by for a year and a half of shows, but it's time to step up to something a little better designed and with a bit more peace of mind.

Next time I'll talk a bit more about what canopy I chose and why, and also what options I went with.


1 comment:

Flashback Mac said...

Very Helpful, thanks