Friday, June 29, 2007

Saint Clair Art Fair 2007

I had heard many great things about the this show, which was the entire reason I signed up. I had some high hopes, but in the end it was one of my worst shows sales wise, and once expenses were figured in, it was my biggest loss yet.

I'm kind of at odds here. On the one hand, I can't say enough good stuff about this show. I thought it was incredibly well run. There was plenty of convenient parking for the artists, both close to the booths for setup and teardown, as well as nearby for show hours. Communication with the artists was good. From what little I got to see, the signage was good. There were a few signs several miles from the show. Hours were reasonable (10-7 saturday, 10-5 sunday).

The booth layouts were nicely done. Every booth space was officially 15 feet wide and 10 feet deep. However, many of the booths were not crammed side by side, so there was actually extra room beyond the 15 feet. In addition, almost every booth had some form of back space, and many of them had huge back space. The space I had ended up being about 18 feet wide by 15 feet deep. The few booths without backspace were those that were in the covered areas (basically hallways), so they were a little tight on space. However, from what I saw, most of those booths had extra room to the side to make up for it. In the end, I couldn't imagine any of the artists feeling they were short on space. About the only downside to the booth layouts were for the people near the water, where the ground was at a bit of an angle.

We were given free snacks Saturday (bagels, donuts, and coffee), and there was a free breakfast buffet at a nearby restaraunt Sunday morning (free for the artists, $7.50 for any additional guests). The buffet was very nicely done.

I'm also aware that the show has shrunk in recent years. I was told there used to be many more booths. Many shows, when faced with a decline in applications, would make up for the difference by letting in lower quality artists. Yet at this show, they didn't seem to do that. Despite the reduced size, I only saw a couple of booths that I thought were more craft than art, and there was only 1 booth I suspected of having buy-sell items. It's encouraging that they'd choose to maintain the quality of the show rather than maintain the size.

In spite of all the good things I can say about the show, the end result was that the customers just weren't there for the most part. Traffic was slow a lot of the time, though there were a few decent rushes. However, I was told by many that it was only a fraction of the traffic in previous years. Although I did see several people walking away with large prints, the majority of people who bought stuff were only carrying very small bags.

In the end, I'm not really sure what to say about the show. From what I could see, everything was done incredibly well. It just didn't pan out. It makes it a bit of a shame, because I'd really like to go back to this show. However, I just can't justify doing so the way things went.

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