I had a fair this past weekend in our hometown. I’ve attended this fair before, and remember it being busy, so I was expecting lots of people. I had also taken note of what people were selling last year, and thought my stuff would fit in-basically, I took all the necessary steps one should take (if possible) before applying to an art fair. So I was hoping for good things.
And yesterday the opening hour rolled around and … nothing. No customers. Crickets. One or two started trickling in. Then the power went out. We had windows, so there was some light, but since it was a city-wide outage I’m guessing a lot of people stayed home. Once the lights came back on there was a surge of activity, and that’s when I did finally make a few sales (by that point I was getting worried), but I have a range of prices, and at least two sales were just post cards. That is not a complaint-a sale is a sale! (and from what I could tell there were a couple vendors who didn’t make any sales) but my overall take was lower than I had hoped.
I was of course chatting with my fellow vendors, and all of them were feeling the lack of customers as well. They pointed out that many of their sales were from established customers who knew they’d be there, and that building up a following takes time. They were unanimous in saying I shouldn’t take this fair too seriously, fairs are a crapshoot, and that I just need to find my tribe, my people. I got some recommendations for upcoming art fairs that they thought I’d have a good showing at. Basically they were lovely, I hope I see them again, and they’ve got a friend in me because I could’ve been depressed after this show, but I’m not after their words.
What sold this time was stationery. I sold note card sets, greeting cards, and postcards. I did sell some ornaments, lots of people liked them, and I’m kinda including them with my stationery, since they’re for writing in. My journals were exclaimed over, especially the upcycled antique ones; several people asked for my card, so I’m hoping I’ve started to find my people. My art was admired, many people liked it, and I’ll take any words of encouragement-no sales, though.
So going forward, I’ll make sure I bring plenty of stationery. I ran out of some supplies, and did not have as many greeting cards as I could have had. I want to expand into making leather journals, and if I do that I can make mini leather ornaments, and having that line would elevate the overall feel of my boutique. I’ll continue to show my art-I can’t think of anything I could’ve done differently, I think most people who showed up were simply not looking to buy art. I’ll try different shows, in different towns. I think my presentation was professional, so I’m pleased with my merchandising skills.
And that’s that. I have new product to list in my etsy and amazon stores. I’ll be looking for another art fair this Christmas, though I think my expectations will be lower. I’ll be relaxing for a bit-I worked really hard in the weeks leading up to the fair and I’m kinda tired. But I’ll be keeping on, and that’s the point of all my rambling: don’t let a bad art fair get you down. Most likely it isn’t you, your product, or your price points-chat with fellow vendors, get their take on the situation, maybe it’s bad for everyone. Try different venues, different times of the year. Don’t give up.
Art on! my friends. Til next time:)
3 thoughts on “Dealing with a Slow Art Fair and Thoughts on What Sold”
As a part time think tank, piece namer, idea projector for Wordsremember I have an idea to pitch. Since stationary was selling, a minor change/addition to your Christmas ornaments might make them more appealing. Pitch them as Christmas memories. For example “My Christmas Angel” On the inside, place for a picture and name of a child, birthday, Christmas memories. Or “Home for the Holidays” inside column for name and date of holiday guests. If several have a purpose, others could be blank but people could see how they could be customized. First Christmas for newlyweds, pets, friends etc.
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I like that! I did decide I’d add something to the sign to explain what they were for😊