Experience with corporate cafeteria market?

Hi Folks, Another marketing-oriented question for you all.

In my previous corporate life, we had a cafeteria that hosted
vendors about 3 days per week. The vendors set up tables to sell
stuff, ranging from very nice jewelry to plants, to crafts and phone
plans. It was a pretty nice way to do some shopping on our limited
lunch free time, especially for last-minute gifts and personal

I’ve been put in touch with a company that coordinates this type of
program here in the Northeast. For a one-time signup fee they
qualify you as a vendor (you fill out applications and such) and they
provide you with the lists of corporate venues and available dates on
an ongoing basis. Each company has their own per diem fee (ranging
from $40 up to $150 per day) for displaying. There is no obligation
to sign up for a minimum number of dates or anything.

My question is whether any of you have experience with this type of
arrangement and marketplace from the seller’s side of things? Do
you feel it’s a profitable way to get your work to market and has
been worth its while? Are the “coordinating companies” generally
reputable? Any pitfalls I need to look out for? What are the price
ranges you’ve been successful with in this arena?

My work is both off-the-shelf hand-crafted artisan jewelry in silver
and gold with semi-precious stones and (this is new for me) some
resale of Stuller and similar-quality finished products. The meat of
my work is custom design, particularly commemorative and bridal-party

Thanks for any help or insight you can give!

Karen Goeller
Handcrafted and Unique Artisan Jewelry

Hi Karen, I have a bit of experience in this sort of market, although
I made the arrangements myself. I did two “corporate” shows when I
was first starting out as a full-time artist jeweler. Good learning
experiences for me, but not lucrative. I didn’t have my professional
display cases then, and hadn’t identified the motivation that will
cause people to want to buy from me.

Just starting out, I didn’t have a large inventory of my own,
unique, handmade jewelry. Wanting to “fill out” my display, I bought
a number of nice, commercial settings from one of our well known
vendors and set my stones in them.

The trays with the manufactured goods didn’t even get a first look,
much less a second. People wanted to see the unique, one-of-a-kind
pieces they won’t see at a jewelry store… the kind of work that
justifies me coming to their offices and showing it off.

Having done a number of juried fine art shows since then, I think I
could be a lot more successful with it now. I would give the advice
to lean heavily toward your own unique creations, and set up the
most professional display you can muster.

As a side note, my wife and her colleagues look forward to the
visits of a vendor of counterfeit (knock-off) handbags who comes by
their office to do shows on occasion. Just how many purses does a
woman need? :wink:

All the best,
Dave Sebaste
Sebaste Studio and
Carolina Artisans’ Gallery
Charlotte, NC (USA)