Okay, here's my take on the CraftBoston show (to add to Karen's great
post). While there were undoubtedly exhibitors who did very well,
there were a lot more (as far as I could tell) who were disappointed.
I was surrounded by a furniture guy, a woman who makes amazing
embroidered wall pieces (they look like watercolors till you get
close), another woman who makes very sophisticated leather bags, and
a mother/daughter team who basically sold variations on one item (a
unique felted wool jacket/stole/cape/coat/wall hanging!). As far as I
could tell, all of us (but the mother/daughter team) are experienced
exhibitors and all of us (including the mother/daughter team) know
how to engage potential customers. All five of us were in the
"disappointed" group, although we all (except the furniture guy whose
show will or will not be deemed successful according to any post-show
commissions he hopes to get) ended up in the black.
The embroiderer, "bag lady", mother/daughter team and I all paid our
expenses and made a modest profit. So why were we disappointed? When
you travel to an out-of-town show, there's a level of physical and
emotional wear and tear which you need to be compensated for (at
least I do); and that's what made this show come up short. The show
was "okay" for me, as opposed to being "good." If it had been a
local show (no travel and hotel), it would have been "good" though
not "great." It's all relative. (In fact, the mother/daughter team
sold like crazy but still came up short. It was their first show,
they had advertised heavily, and traveled to Boston from Korea -- the
mother teaches part of the year at RISD and knows the show. Making a
long story short here :-).)
I wish I there had been an opportunity to get feedback from other
jewelers at the end of the show, but there just wasn't time. Karen,
did you manage to talk to any jewelers about this on the last day?
Otherwise, let me say this about CraftBoston. It was an extremely
well-organized and promoted show, arguably even better than the
typical ACC show. The Society of Arts and Crafts who produces
CraftBoston, is very solicitous of the artists. Also, the Seaport
World Trade Center is a great venue (although some exhibitors
attribute perceived attendance problems to the location, which is
not in a destination area).
The weather in Boston was generally beautiful. (I left a rainy L.A.
and returned to a rainy L.A., while it was sunny and warm in Boston.)
This contributed to very light attendance on Friday and may have
affected weekend attendance somewhat though it did rain on Saturday
(thank goodness!). Good weather can kill a show as easily as bad
weather :-). I thought weekend attendance was good, not great but
Finally, would I do the show again? Maybe. I had never done a Boston
show before so I had no mailing list of previous customers. Since I
depend to a large extent on "repeaters", I have to consider that I
got a decent start in a new market. We'll see....
P.S. It was just great to meet Karen at last and share a superb Thai
meal (thanks, Karen!! -- and sorry you missed our call,
Hanuman:-)!). And I was SO impressed by Metalwerx. If you're close
enough and you're looking for classes, workshops and/or bench space,
make a beeline for Metalwerx!