Articles

Are Art & Craft Festivals Dead?

March 2011

Image Courtsey: Tendril / Wikimedia CommonsImage Courtsey: Tendril / Wikimedia Commons

With the downturn in the economy, it seems that almost everyone has suffered. Of course, fewer people are spending money in order to avoid greater debt. This means, for people who depend on consumers for their livelihood, their business has been hurt. This can be seen in a larger way in the form of the art fairs and festivals. Fewer people are willing to spend money at these festivals. This results in fewer customers, and eventually fewer vendors. It leaves us all with the question. Are art festivals dead? Have we seen the end of these shows?

There was a time when craft shows reigned supreme with hundreds if not thousands of customers perusing the displays of handmade artwork of all types. However, now, more and more vendors are determining that this is just not worth their time or money. What has happened? Of course, the economy is partially to blame, but that is not all.

Too many people saw the craft show as a quick and easy way to make money. They wanted to simply offer their artwork and go home with a box full of cash. However, in light of the economic downturn, vendors and artists must recognize the need to work harder and draw in customers. Those vendors who are not willing to put in the work might as well accept the death of art festivals. However, this does not have to be the answer.

Instead, if each artist or vendor were to put forth even a small amount of effort by offering new and interesting or even one time only options, they will be able to draw people back in. The key to gaining and keeping new customers is to offer something different. Whether this means offering a limited edition of an artwork or it means offering something new like live painting lessons, offering something new is a perfect way to bring in new customers who will boost the attendance of the whole art festivals.

Are art festivals dead? The answer is no. However, that answer could easily change if artists and vendors do not recognize the need to start putting in the work. To keep art shows and festivals alive, it is vital to help customers see past their tight budget. Every vendor can put in a little work that will do good for the overall festival. If each of 50 vendors does this, the results could be astounding, and art festivals can be alive once again.

Comments

The festivals are putting them selves out of business by keepping their over priced rent to vendors.  The article is true but the events must help as well

By David Archer on March 30, 2011

Homewood Days (Homewood, IL) charged us $600 for a special use permit and we had a great spot.  They charged regular vendors $200.  They oversold the Merchants Row and they put the oversold vendors right smack dab next to us—we had the incense guy right next to us and had to smell the incense all weekend long—he paid $200 and we paid $600.  We lost one side of visibility because of this fiasco.  We asked for a refund of $400, and the Homewood Chamber of Commerce totally refused!!  How fair was that?  We will never again attend their event and I advise other crafters to avoid this event, too.  We make their events successful and if they want to treat us like crap, maybe all vendors can boycott and let’s see how successful their event is without all of us.

By Phyllis Miceli on March 30, 2011

Thank You for your input.  I am a crafter in NC and I also have had Promoters charge me more as a returning vendor and the new vendors were charge alot less.  They seem to inch the price up a little each year.

By Joy Whitney on March 30, 2011

I understand the basic message of this article and it’s true; if you simply go to an art/craft/music event & wait for money to rain down on you, you’re delusional at best! Same thing goes for online selling. All of it takes work, time & effort on the artist’s part…originality…ingenuity…promoting….sheer tick-like tenacity!
However, I sort of resent the implication that it’s all up to us, the artisan/vendors at events, to turn things around. As other folks commenting here have mentioned, show promoters/organizers are turning out, in many cases, to be our worst enemies! They also need to realize that effort on THEIR part in terms of treating their returning vendors well & trying to attract quality new vendors to their events is required. I understand that when the economy’s tanking, underwriting & sponsership of events falls off and that effects the fees being charged to vendors. I understand that the people who create the events are trying to make money as well. But they have to stop “sticking it” to we vendors! We’re an important part of what attracts vendors to an event, sometimes the ONLY attractant! Without us, supporting the events, helping promote them, going through the back-breaking labor of set up/break down, long hours, “interesting” customers, etc., they wouldn’t have much of an event!
I’m willing to do everything I can to keep art/craft/music events alive, but I’m not really willing to feel forced to do “song & dance” routines in my booth to draw customers, while show promoters just keep jacking up our expenses!
Thanks for another insightful article!

By Cherie Elksong on March 30, 2011

True That, People putting on these shows ans fairs need to reconize the changes in the economy, and reprioritize their booth fee’s so we can all do what we do best as vendors. This would help show and fair people as well as us and most of all the consumers. Fairness is a big factor in some shows, returnng vendors should have the lower costs, or make even through out all vendors, please lets help each other out instead of working against each other for the future of vending and having great fairs, and shows.

Peace Out
Lori

By LAC on March 30, 2011

I hate it when art/craft shows let in vendors selling crap made in China and who knows where into a show! It takes away from true artists and crafters and hurts business. I’ve had booths in shows like that and I’ve also walked through shows like that. Keep that crap at the dollar stores and Walmart!!! This is up to the promoters!!! Also, lower the space fees in these difficult economic times and/or don’t charge customers to get in!

By Misty on March 30, 2011

This article was good but as what other vendors have correctly observed, it only dealt with part of the problem we are facing as vendors.

I have been a vendor for some time now and I do it as my only income. I sell art and crafts all handmade. Some made or finished by myself and the others although also handmade, are made by others. All in all , I would say I sell hand made art & crafts.

If we want to have art & crafts shows to survive, then we should separate handmade shows from other commercial shows. For example: (1) I did a show in a college in New York City College. This is an annual cultural event which has been previously very good. This time , I sell my handmade cultural jewelry and in front of me comes some guy with assortment of one dollar jewelry plus and takes two tables. For the two days, he sold probably more than the rest “Art & Crafts” vendors.  (2) Another vendor in another show like the one above was selling plastic toys of all sorts. When I was selling my hand made wood and stone carvings ( figures and animals) a customer asked me why they were expensive. The reason was my smaller stone handmade elephant was priced at $10 yet the plastic looking elephant much nigger than mine was going for $5. (3) I have cultural figures made in wood by hand which have some meaning. I was shocked to see same figures (couple) machine made in some plastic material but con-sealed behind a glass frame yet going at a a much less price than mine.

My question to the organizers would be: How would you expect a traditionally art & craft vendor to make any business in such circumstances?

The second problem about the organizers: When I get comments from customers like, I didn’t know there was a festival here, will you be here next week? And the customer does not buy. What Am I supposed to make out of this. Why was this customer not aware that I was going to be here this week. And what Am I supposed to do to make the customer aware the week I will be around next year?

The third problem I have with the organizers: Last August, we had a festival in a sports stadium for the first time (for this event). Previously it had been held in a park. The organizers had hiked the vendor fee to $175 for a one day event.  What we didn’t know was that at the gate, the customers were to pay $20 if ticked had been purchased in advance otherwise $25 at the gate. So if a couple has three children and they are to enter, they will need to leave at the door a cool $100 or $125. As you all know, as soon as you enter such places, the children will want to eat so do the parents. A meal with a drink could very easily $15 per person. So for this family, another $75 spent. So, by the time this family reaches my booth ( despite all the ” dance and song” I may put up), the family has already spent $200. It is no wonder the family admires my art ( I can read it on their faces). They say it is very nice, will you be here next week. Obviously not very many people attend because of the high entrance fee.

The fourth problem for the organizers: The amount of money you charge vendors, do you have any clue as to how much profit of loss your vendors are making. It has always hurt me when I ask my fellow vendors how they did and they tell me at least I made my rent. Then I tell them that all the merchandise you sold you paid the organizer. What about other expenses. So I tell them may be it is cheaper for you to put the merchandise on UPS and send them to the organizer to sell by herself/himself as you do other things or stay at home. What I am saying is that we are operating at a loss.

The last problem with organizers: They have too many vendors in the festival. Most of the vendors selling the same things causing cut throat competition. Why not declare that we need say: 10 vendors for jewelry, 10 for cloths, etc. and stick to this formula if it works.

I believe that unique and quality handmade art & crafts will still be appreciated and admired. With a proper strategy we could still do good shows that would support our lives but certainly not the way we are being taken for a ride. If there are serious vendors out there who wish to explore remedies to these issues and wish to form a team then we should explore it seriously.

Thank

By Edward on March 30, 2011

I am sorry for the misspelling in my article , I meant ” bigger than mine” in the third paragraph.
Thanks

By Edward on March 30, 2011

I totally agree with the above.  I have not been successful at fairs and the last one I attended, I didn’t even make back the booth rental.  My items are unusual and you don’t see them at any of the fairs, but I also sell sterling silver jewelry and, of course, my prices reflect that.  It aggravates me that there will be a booth across from me selling cheap junky jewelry from China and people would rather pay a couple of dollars for a piece of cheap costume jewelry than $25 and up for high-end items.  It is my opinion that these types of vendors should not be allowed to sell at these fairs and should save their junk for flea markets and garage sales.  The show organizers shouldn’t allow them in.  I think if there were a more upscale type of vendor, then maybe more upscale customers would be attracted.

By Frances Dickman on March 30, 2011

I’ve read with interest all the above comments.  We try to keep our booth fees VERY low at all times. It isn’t worth it to the artists/crafters/ vendors to work a show and not make a profit. To keep the rental fees low, we have started asking for a donation for raffles. So far, this has worked very well. Most of the shows in the area are over $100-$400 per space. Ours are consistently under $65 per space. However, event insurance, space rent, advertising, electical all have to play into what we need to charge.
As far as ‘china-made’, we have a booth flyer for those we suspect of bringing in junk.  They are asked to remove the offending articles and if they do not, they are banned from future shows.  Give us positive ideas on what you would like to see at shows!

By Lebanon Event Solutions on March 30, 2011

What I see missing in the above articles is the people that buy wholesale art from Hong Kong and sell them at fairs as original art.  That so called art is produced at an assembly line.  Why aren’t promoters aware of this practice????  You can see that “crap” at furniture stores.

By Carlton Venice on April 2, 2011

My question is for the experianced arts and crafter: If I purchase unfinished wood furniture and my husband builds them, then I stain and finish the piece quite uniquely, is this still considered hand made ? Or must I fell the tree and turn the trunk? I have been scared off of applying to some shows that I would have loved to attend due to the non-refundable jury fee and what this particular jury considers hand crafted. How much money should the promoter charge us to look at our four photos and a booth shot? Would love some input from those of you in the know.Sincerely, VONN

By Vonn on April 4, 2011

I agree with many of the comments made on this page.  I don’t agree however, with telling the artists to do more work to make people buy more.  I do my very best and I know other artists put 110% into their art also. People are hurting for money and or are afraid to spend it and that is the bottom line. The high gas prices don’t help either.  I have high quality jewelry for affordable prices and people either want it or they don’t. I try to keep my prices affordable and to do that, I suffer in profits.  I keep hoping the year will come when once again the shows make a good profit.  The show fees do seem to being going up for the most part and that I don’t understand what so ever.  Everyone is making a lot less profit and I’m sure everyone’s supply fee’s have gone up over the years and the people who run the shows are charging more.  It makes no sense.  I know many artists that are not doing as many shows or have quit doing them because they just cannot afford to do them anymore.  Something has to be done or there will not be any art shows of quality any more.

By Kim Krug on April 7, 2011

I am a recovering technology marketing person who has decided to commit my 20+ years of product and solutions marketing to helping artisans and craftspeople like yourselves find a better way to be successful in this not-so-easy-to-sell-in economy. I’m still doing a ton of research with folks across the Artisanal spectrum and don’t want to make any crazy statements like “do this and you’ll be successful”. BUT, there are things you can do to help grow your business beyond the shows themselves (which I find to be exceptional for the most part because I know to avoid the “crap” and stick with the “craft”). Create a presence online - there are plenty of marketplaces where you can promote your works. Make sure your materials all include addresses and even a little info about that online site. Capture your work and your own efforts and stories (video or pictures) that help people appreciate where it comes from. Not only are events expensive and exhausting, they’re a one-and-done sort of thing. But they shouldn’t be. Concentrate on simple, low- or no-cost ways to keep that love alive! And keep up the awesome work. I dropped 25 years of career to focus on artisans/craftsmen because I totally believe in the value and beauty of what you’re doing and WHO YOU ARE as people. Thanks!

By Melinda Moses "Spin It Up" on May 2, 2011

More and more of the “Art” festivals are becoming nothing more than flea markets in the street. As a NC clay artist, I’ve watched one festival after another raise the fees, jury costs, etc. A significant number of the organisers are art guilds, Chambers of Commerce, etc. that have no direct interest in promoting the arts than the commercially created ones by a promoter. Perhaps when art festivals degrade to nothing other than people selling spud peelers, swords and stun guns next to the last artisan that got suckered into their “art” festival, will the art community wake up and not continue to play their game that steals our livelihood.

By Michael on May 25, 2011

I didn’t see any comments about the customers who attend these events other than referencing about paying to attend.  I attend a weekly farmers’ market, in my fourth year now.  I have and had regular customers.  Their comments are about how it has gone down hill.  Not enough arts and crafts and alot of junk.  Some of their other favorite vendors have left and now they might just come out to get vegetables.  I have left another market that I used to do because the promoters were just letting anyone in, one guy was selling jewelry from Kohls a few seasons old.  Bottom line, the customers stop coming to these events when the quality goes down too. 

Thank you, Linda

By Linda Nash on August 15, 2011

It boggles the mind to notice that not one promoter has posted any comment on this article in their own defence.  Perhaps someone needs to spam this article and the subsequent comments to them just to see if any of them are paying attention.

Like many other exhibitors here, my question is, what part of art and hand crafted products come in previously soggy packages that contain itmes from China and Vietnam?

By Stephen Petroschek on August 25, 2011

As a craft vendor of sixteen years, I too am not happy with the buy/sell imports. It is a little insulting that we have to “do more.” I rather let my spider monkey dance at home. I noticed something that others have not mentioned though, at least not in detail. Aside from the high entrance fees, promoters/organizers have become either more lazy or more greedy when it comes to spending on advertising. It won’t matter for any and every excuse made on the planet if people plain old don’t know there is a show going on. I’m sick of promoters saying, “Well, we put up an ad at the liquor store three weeks ago and one at the town hall.” So what?! Human beings have the attention span of gnats! We need signs in front of our faces the DAY of the show. How much does it cost a promoter to get some neon…okay, white construction board paper and write out “CRAFT SHOW at LOCATION (time, date)”. You see it done for tag shows all the time on telephone polls. They need to stop being stingy. Let people know when the show is.

Also, I think promoters/organizers should have raffles more often. They help clear out some items that vendors might want to clean out, but go to good homes. Not to mention, if potential raffle goers are interested in your stuff, they might just want to seek you out and find out what else you have. Raffles in that sense are a great source of advertising. I had one show at a high school where I put up one of my necklaces. Without knowing it, that one item drew in more sales as people immediately recognized my work. Hey, it’s 2min. of fame for a crafter and some extra money for the promoter/organizer to help pay off all those costs for putting on a show. A win-win situation.

By MushroomLady729 on August 25, 2011

One way you can extend the value of your booth cost is to devise a way to get customers and other interested people (in your type of product) to give you their email address and you can then continue your relationship online…. if lyou aren’t online you should be…  many business are very successful over the internet and to keep in touch w/previous customers just makes sense.  There are a lot of prefab websites you only pay a monthly fee of a few dollars and then you and if you have a digital camera it’s simple to download your pix online…very easy and inexpensive.  It justifies the cost of your booth space more if you can continue selling those people.

By nan on September 4, 2011

All the above is so very true but does not apply only to crafters. I run a Food Booth and promoters are sticking it to us, fees are going higher every year. Not only the promoters are sticking it to us but also the various Health Departments are raising their fees every year. Here in OR &WA;, every county health dept. has a different fee, from as low as $69 to as high as $240.
As you know, food cost to us is going up & up and unlike Crafters, WE have waste. Gas prices of course are going up & up and so is propane. I am trying to supplement my SS with this business and I’m not a newby, been doing it for 20 years, but in the last 2 years I had to to use my SS to finance the business.
Time to hang it up! When you have to spend $1 to make 80 cents, then it’s not worth it anymore, anybody want to buy my business? lock, stock & barrell, Van, cart, equipment, contacts, etc. for $10.000, I’m going fishing!

By firechef on September 8, 2011

I see this happening every weekend when I hit the shows BUT! our sales have been climbing higher every year! Belive it or not I go to flea-markets with a art booth and maybe 4 other crafters in a field of 180 booths and I keep realy bussy the next week to just make up the sold items. we also goto the craft shows but the main event is the basic flea market. we do not do buy/sell junk every thing is made completely by hand. we try realy hard to get the WOW BAMN! effect and I have a following that watches where I will be every week to see what is new. whiteriverpottery com

By fortbrownandcompany.com on September 30, 2011

I have been both an artist/crafter and a show promoter and I see this both ways. Artisans don’t realize the show promoter has fixed costs they must pay to put on the show.  Rent on buildings don’t go down because of poor economies, costs of insurance and advertising doesn’t go down.  Less vendors participate and that means less profits for the promoter they can’t cut costs or they lose money, they are in the business to make money to.

Most artists/crafters I’ve met (myself included) went to shows and thought that because people had said they liked our products that there would be hoards of people rushing to buy them.  I didn’t realize the key was to collect the names of the people who bought from me and to continue to market to them items that were similar in nature to the ones they had already bought.  It’s less expensive to market to people who are actually interested in the products you offer than to constantly chase new customers.

By Shasta on October 31, 2011

I think people overestimate the impact of the economy on art/craft shows because there are still plenty of people shopping, eating out, and paying money to go to events. People are willing to pay for what they value, for example $300 for a department store purse, or $100 to get into a sporting event, yet will quibble over a $10 purchase of a handmade item. Handmade is no longer a valuable commodity. Is anyone else insulted when asked if you’ll take less for an item like it’s a garage sale rather than an artisan sale? Shall we call that cheap and rude?

Some vendors are partly to blame for this customer mentality by undercutting their own prices. If there are several vendors at a show with the same handmade items, and one vendor lowers his prices, the other vendors will be seen as too expensive and take a hit in sales. Pricing fairly and holding that line helps all artists and crafters with sales. And it establishes a market pricing structure for the customer as to what price range to expect to see for a handmade necklace, candle, ceramic piece, etc.

For promoters, make the effort and create a quality show with longevity that runs throughout a season or annually for years, rather than taking the money and running from a one-time event. A long-term cash cow is incredibly valuable in so many ways. And please walk the floor or provide a questionnaire to the vendors to get feedback on how to improve the show for the next time. What you think, and actual experience, are often two very different things.

By Serenity on November 7, 2011

Most of the above comments register a lot of frustration with so many
aspects of this business .  After 20 plus years in this business I feel
adjustments are in order on everyones part . Please let’s get rid of the buy/sell, have the promoters do a walk thru before the show starts
and get tough if the booth is not consistant with the jury photos ,  These
have been known to be staged.  Respect and appreciate your reliable
and honestly creative exhibitors, treat them well,give them some perks
and ask for their input, listen and listen some more.  Exhibitors, you know who you are, STOP COMPLAINING,
Things are tough, let’s hang in there,

By Ursula McCarthy on February 23, 2012

We are new to this site and look forward to having multiple vendors at our event on October 5th and 6th, 2012. We have the vendor fees priced perfectly so you can make money and have a great time as well. Contact me for an application and we will see you at the O’Fallon Homecoming & Heritage festival in O’Fallon, Illinois!

By Diana Swan on February 28, 2012

I understand the cost of doing business for the promoters but the prices are way too steep for my pocketbook. Also, let’s call a spade a spade…a craft show does not include resellers, Avon, Lia Sophia etc. Leave this product for the house parties! So, why should i fork over $ to a show that allows this !

I do know of a few shows that do adhere to handmade only and if I can I do participate in these shows.  So, just do your research, and go to a show before you put out the $, do shows that have been recommended by other artisans and try to do shows that have a following.

Good Luck out there!

By Carole on March 17, 2012

I just wanted to add in my viewpoints as a show promoter, after spending this past year as an artist as well. 

I agree wholeheartedly with those who complain about buy-sell in shows. I understand that many shows are relaxing those standards out of perceived necessity (the need to sell booths and make money), but they fail to realize that when you play on Wal-Mart’s home field, Wal-Mart will cream you.  Our customers expect handmade, unique items, and that is what we exist to offer them. 

We are careful in our jurying, we walk the show before it opens, and we are serious about sending questionable items (or an entire booth) packing if the items cannot be verified by the artist (via WIP/studio photos, materials invoices, etc.).

As for booth fees, ours unfortunately had to be raised a few years ago, after school district cuts forced huge building-use fees upon our sponsoring organization.  Paid advertising is unbelievably expensive (we pay $400 for a tiny, 1x4” ad on page 23 of a local newspaper—and who reads the newspaper anymore?), and the volunteer hours necessary to run a large event like ours are becoming scarcer.

A good promoter will recognize that the show is a partnership between artists and organization;  both must profit for the show to be successful. I feel privileged to have experienced both perspectives;  there are many things that artists don’t generally understand about show management, and there are many things that promoters don’t understand about the challenges artists face.

I would challenge my fellow promoters to not be afraid to hold the line on buy-sell (and to educate themselves about it), to be serious about advertising the show, and to offer more value to the artists wherever possible.  For instance:  the students who benefit directly from our show profits are expected to help the artists load and unload—this costs us nothing, makes the artists’ investment in attending our show a little lighter, and gives the kids some ownership over what is being done for them.

To the artists, I’d just say not to make the show promoters the enemy here.  We’re all fighting the same thing: a general customer apathy toward quality handmade items in favor of cheap imported junk that can be replaced next year when our color/style preferences change.  Help the promoters understand your concerns, and give them whatever assistance you can.  Promote the show for them, with your own customers.  Show them the buy-sell items (and the proof they need in order to deal with it).  Don’t assume that their life is easy street, because it’s not. 

Good luck to all of you!

Jenn Towianski
Crafters’ Clearance Fine Art & Handcraft Market
Sterling Heights, Michigan

By CraftersClearance on August 22, 2012

Not here, really.  Our spring shows were spectacular, and visiting the summer shows, we saw lots of shopping.  Smaller, less expensive items seem to be what really is selling.  Even with the influx of ‘Michael’s beads jewelry stringers’ we’re doing pretty good.  I can sell 20 pairs of 15 dollar earrings quicker than I can sell a 300 dollar bead embroidered collar.  And guess what, I’m okay with that.

By Ames on August 29, 2012

I have been doing arts & crats festivals since 2007 and, like many, have seen a dramatic decline in sales and profitability.  Too often, even when there are thousands of visitors walking the show, only a small percentage seem to be carrying bags…in other words, have purchased something.  As a Fine Art Photographer, I do work hard to have new photographs every year, while still showing my “best sellers.”  My prices have crept up along with my costs for paper, ink, non-glare glass, acid free foam core backing, frames, mats…and on it goes. 

I attend juried and non-juried events.  At non-juried events, I understand “anything goes” but I expect a jury process to be true and factual for those juried shows.  For the most part, I have found that to be consistent with the shows I have juried into.  Sure, a few dirt bags will ge through…and I have seen promoters make a booth pack up and leave for showing “hand-made Amish furniture” because the idiots left on the “Made In China” stickers.

We can only hope that things improve…but right now, having done 7 shows already, I am afraid that 2012 will be the worst year for me yet.

Keep the Faith!

By Daniel J. DiBernardo on August 29, 2012

In reading the comments by other handmade jewelers and craftspersons, I can see that I am not in a minority when I comment on those promoters who allow cheap imports in their shows. There is a promoter in Texas who organizes shows in Boerne, Salado and other small towns and the only thing more frustrating than him allowing “dollar store” merchandise to compete with my well-made handcrafted items is the fact that he did not have the courtesy to respond to my email calling him out on it.  Very rude!  I will NEVER do a show with him again. 

Those of us who make all or part of our livings participating in arts and crafts shows need to somehow unite and this is a great place to allow that unification. 

I am hopeful that the Fall of 2012 will be good for all of us across the US!

By Sandy Forrest-Hartman on August 29, 2012

I agree with almost everyone; as a vendor you do have to put in effort, at least smile or say hello - I’ve seen vendors read a book or eat and not even look at the customer and then can’t figure out why they didn’t make any sales, yes show fees are going higher and higher - which is ok if the Promoter is spending more on advertising, but that’s not usually the case, there are less shows because if promoters can’t make money then they can’t keep promoting shows, if vendors don’t make money, they’re replaced, etc.  My three huge pet peeves are the crafters that have full time jobs, have a hobby, but because of the economy they either can’t make ends meet or can’t afford their hobby so they decide to do festivals and because they have full time jobs they undercut everyone else so if you are an artist with genuine over head you can no longer make money, second, because they do have a full time job, they can pay show fees early - all promoters want their money ahead of time so they know they’re full and so they can pay for advertising, but if you’re a full timer you can have thousands of dollars tied up just in show fees, but when you do have the money, they’re already full with the hobbyists, third, and what about the public - if they want us, they need to support us or there will be no show next time.  How many of us have heard oh I’ll see you next time!

By Claudette on August 29, 2012

I don’t think they are dead.  The only problem is that when you go to the few big ones in the area you see everything because the vendors go to all the shows in the area.
It would be nice to see some new products at the shows instead of the same things over and over. 
The fees for some of the shows are really to expensive so it makes it hard to make any money. According to friends who do the shows all the time it has not been a good year this year.  I found you have a lot of lookie lous.

By harlene on September 7, 2012

I am a Fine Art Photographer, but this past weekend attended a show with my financee, who makes hand-poured soy candles.  This was her second show.  We set up and when we were finally able to sit down what did we see exactly opposite us…another soy candle vendor.  They looked up at almost the same time we did.  I went over and we talked…needless to say we were both very upset.  In a show of about 90 vendors there were 10 soy candle vendors and at least 6 of us were opposite another candle vendor.  A couple of “fall craft” vendors were equally upset for the same reason.  It was obvious the promoters could care less for the vendors, since they did not take the time to plan out/lay out the vendors.  It was not like they could not see that the names of the businesses all had the word “candle” in them.  Four of the ten candle vendors I spoke with will not be returning.  This show is destined to die…too bad, since I had heard it used to be a great show.  When the promoters forget their customer is the vendor, the show should die.

By Daniel J. DiBernardo on September 26, 2012

As a non-profit dog rescue, we’d like to host a vendor-friendly event.  We have the location; we do our own PR; and we understand the economics.  I used to do shows (as a custom embroiderer) and am well aware to the costs involved. 
One option we are strongly considering, is to NOT charge a vendor fee, but to instead, ask for a percentage of profit.  However, we don’t know what that percentage should be. CAN ANYONE OFFER SUGGESTIONS?  Vendors will be responsible for their own setup and, due to the location, we are unable to offer electric.  This is an annual event and one we expect to grow.

By Barbara (Rottweiler Hearts Rescue) on February 19, 2013

I have been a vendor in arts and crafts festivals for over 30 years, in different parts of the USA and have never seen so many vendors going home mentioning that they have made no sales whatsoever as I have in the last two years. Personally,  I have kept my inventory current and lots of people tell me that they love my items. However, most of them simply do not want to spend money to purchase anything. I believe that what has happened is that people in America have gotten into the habit of accepting the fact that they need to spend over $100 per week at places like Walmart to survive and now they regard beautiful hand made creations as luxury item that they feel that they cannot afford to indulge in. People should wake and realize that, in actuality, these handmade items are no more expensive than things that are imported from foreign countries and sold in big box stores.

By Maureen Farley on March 28, 2014

I have been doing craft fairs for almost 30 years, with a few breaks during this time…I started out with quilts and dolls, but when the quilts from China flooded the stores, that was the end of that….next I started many cute and practical paper items…kusudama balls which became sun-catchers, pads, cards and these sold well until 2 years ago…I retired, so now I could really make inventory, but not to be with the paper…folks thought of them as season items, impulse buys and not practical enough…I probably broke even the last 2 years…so I did a 180…my two loves were sewing and dogs, so now I make dog coats and toys…cute, well-made and many one of a kind…real designer coats…I have yet to test this market…being very picky as to the shows I apply for…the fees are getting way to high and little advertising…many promoters want the vendors to promote their shows by e-mail and facebook…I stopped doing small shows as these are the worst offenders…hoping that my new venture will help my fixed income with my new product…only time will tell

By carole zeneski on March 30, 2014

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