Friday, August 10, 2007

Sterlingfest Show Report

After going through the first year of shows with declining sales, and then starting this year with the worst 2 shows yet, I then had my best show ever. Now this past weekend, I've continued this positive trend by having another great show. It almost squeezed its way past the Wyandotte show to become my new most profitable show, but one thing didn't pan out, so it will be my second best.

The show was 3 days long. The first 2 days, the weather was quite hot (90+ degrees) and very humid from the storms that hit the area the day before. That made the show quite uncomfortable. However, day 3 was more tolerable, with temperatures in the high 80s and humidity a bit lower.

Attendance was pretty poor for most of the first 2 days, though it did pick up in the evening. Most likely, the extremely hot weather can be blamed for that. There were several cases of heat stroke, and the local TV stations covered the story telling people to stay home instead of going to the show. The third day saw considerably better traffic.

The show ran from 10am to 8pm each day. Each night, there was a free concert scheduled right as the show ended. As a result, many people were showing up for the concert and walking through the show. The concert Saturday night was actually pretty good...the lead singer of Styx performing several Styx songs (that kept us entertained as we tore down the booth). As a result of all the extra people, many booths stayed open past the 8PM closing time.

Sales were alright the first day. Not spectacular, but not terrible. About inline with what I anticipated for the first day of a 3 day show. I stayed open 20 minutes past close but didn't make any sales. However, I did have a lot of people come in, and its hard to say whether or not any of those people came back to buy another day. The extra time may or may not have been worth it.

The second day was a bit better in sales. I stayed open almost 1 hour past close. Again, I made no sales after close, but I don't know if any of those people came back on Saturday to buy.

On Saturday (the final day) I was expecting sales to pick up considerably. Initially, I thought they would. The first 2 days I didn't get a sale until about 1PM. However, this time sales started immediately, and I had several sales the first 2 hours. After that, traffic continued to be very nice, however I went on a 6 hour stretch without a single sale. After those first few hours getting my hopes up, that was a very discouraging 6 hour letdown. After that, I had a few more sales, but when the show reached it's 8PM close time, the final tally was that day 3 was my worst day. I felt very disappointed.

After having no sales the previous 2 days after close, I was tempted to just start packing up right away. However, traffic was incredible, and I kept my hopes up and decided to stay open longer. About 30 minutes after close I had a good sized sale, and then more came in. We started packing up about 45 minutes after close, and while we were, we got a few more customers. By the end, we ended up making over $400 in sales in the final extra hour.

One Problem
When I got home and added it all up, it appeared that this was my best show yet, surpassing my last show by about $75. However, when I got to phoning in my charge slips, I ended up with one problem: a $120 sale was declined. I waited until monday and tried it again and it was still declined. I mailed a letter to the customer on Monday asking her to call me back, but as of right now I still have not gotten a response. Although I still have a bit of hope that I can get it resolved, as of now I'm counting it as a loss, so this is only my second best show. Thats still great...I'm more than satisfied.

A Few Accomplishments
Its always great when something notable happens at a show...something I can remember later on. This show had 2 of those moments.

Before my first show, I picked out 25 photos in a variety of styles and printed them up in 3 different sizes. Over the previous 8 shows, there have been about a half dozen of those prints that have never sold a single copy. I was starting to give up on them, but on Friday I ended up selling one of those photos. That was quite memorable. However, even more memorable was when I sold a second copy of that same photo on Saturday.

The other accomplishment was selling a framed photo. Selling something framed is pretty rare. Yet on Friday I sold a framed copy of my most popular photograph. I had my wife run up to the store and get me another one of those frames so I could replace it for Saturday. I ended up selling the second one on Saturday night after the 8pm close time.

Other notable events from the show include a guy who looked at a photo that I sell for $345 matted/$585 framed and offered to take the framed copy off my hands if I'll give it to him for $ took all I had to not laugh at him and tell him to get the hell out of my booth. Then there was the lady that got pretty upset with me because she found a couple of prints that didn't have labels and thus she didn't know where they were from. I'm not sure why she got so bent out of shape about it...I was standing right there and when I noticed they were missing the tags I immediately told her where they were from. I think some people are just searching for something to be unhappy about.

The show was pretty well organized. Things were laid out decently. The show was a bit smaller...under 100 artists, so it was a bit more personal feeling, rather than being some giant fair. The show was held in front of the library, which was opened the whole time, so we had air conditioning to retreat to every now and then, along with bathrooms with running water and a refrigerated drinking fountain. Even after the library closed, the lobby remained open so we could get to it all.

There was plenty of artist parking immediate behind all the booths, so nobody had to walk very far. In fact, I was able to park my trailer directly behind my booth. That was quite convenient.

It was a good show for me, and I'll definitely be back next year. I made enough money from this show that I think I can now afford to upgrade my EZ up canopy to something much better.

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