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Experience with philly folk fest?


#1

Folks, I’ve always done shows that are focused on “art” and have
stayed away from “craft shows” where I would have a booth next to
someone selling clothespin reindeer. I’m not against clothespin
reindeer, you understand - I just don’t think that the same people
looking for them are also looking to spend serious dollars on
hand-crafted art jewelry. Having said that, I’m considering doing a
different type of venue (for me) next summer and would like to hear
of any experiences you guys may have had with it. The Philadelphia
Folk Festival is a 3-day “major event” that attracts top talent in
music, as well as an extremely loyal following of people… We’re
talking people who have been going there for 20-30 years and plan
their year around camping out there for the whole week. There are
also a lot of “day trippers” who come in for a single day, including
lots of couples and families.

They always have a nice, but somewhat small, craft area - about 20 -
25 crafters showing everything from homemade candles to hand-made
guitars… Usually includes a blacksmith and a glassblower who do
demos throughout the festival. The crafts are juried, but in the
past the jurying has allowed some “mistakes” to slip through. Some
folks “in the know” have said that they have closed the loopholes
that have allowed that to happen.

So to make a long story short, what experiences, if any, have you
had with this festival or ones like it (I know I could be slapped
silly by the regulars who would tell me there are NONE “like” it, but
you all know what I mean). Is it worth a $400 booth fee for a
10’x10’ for the 3 days? What demographics have you seen? Price
range or product lines?

And do you think that doing demos helps your sales? If so, what do
you generally do? I hesitate to lug my tank and torch around for
something like that, but am scratching my head about what people
would find interesting to WATCH - I don’t usually think of
jewelry-making as a spectator sport, if you know what I mean. Demos
are an option, and I know you get more publicity if you do them, so
what do you think?

Any insight will be greatly appreciated!

Thanks,
Karen Goeller
@Karen_Goeller
Hand-crafted artisan jewelry


#2

Karen - The metalcraft group at our local rock club does demos during
our 3-day show. Several of them require minimal equipment and might
be good for you. We have a wonderful piercer who does the most
intricate Celtic knotwork - she only needs her saw and a benchpin.
Another woman makes woven chain and gets lots of attention - her demo
only requires the wire, her hands and hand tools. Last year I
demonstrated Keum-boo. I had all the gold cut out and the silver
pieces depletion guilded so that they were ready for gold
application. All I needed to demonstrate was my hotplate and
burnishers.

One thing though. Schedule your demonstrations, either with the
show or via a poster at your booth. That way you won’t be overworked
and you can plan to have enough material to keep you busy for the
alloted time.

Good luck -
Debby Hoffmaster


#3
And do you think that doing demos helps your sales?  If so, what
do you generally do?  I hesitate to lug my tank and torch around
for something like that, but am scratching my head about what
people would find interesting to WATCH - 

One of the most boring things I’ve ever seen is a metalsmith doing a
demo. It just takes too long and there’s no fire involved. The
demos audiences love are blacksmithing and glassworking of all
sorts. There’s fire and transformation. With metalsmithing, there’s
somebody with a little hammer or something and you can’t tell if
anything is happening.

Also, if you are demo-ing, you need an extra person to sell your
stuff.

Do you have a specific process that is mysterious to people that a
demo could explain? I also make felt and travel to fiber festivals.
There I’ve seen people demonstrate felt making and that seems to
help a lot because many people don’t get it.

Never heard of it? Felting is the process of taking un-spun sheep’s
wool (usually sheep) and creating a non-woven fiber using soap,
water and agitation.

Elaine Luther


#4

Karen, I have no specific knowledge about this show, but, there are
lots of reasons to exhibit at a craft show. Some reasons are more
romance than reality. Your main concerns, it seems, is making
enough money to justify the event. I don’t think it’s possible for
most people to give advise about whether or not a specific show is
for you or not. Some may know the show but not your work and vise
versa. You have to decide yourself using your own criteria.

Folks, I've always done shows that are focused on "art" and have
stayed away from "craft shows" where I would have a booth next to
someone selling clothespin reindeer.

Every craft show has to be researched and judged on it’s individual
merits. There are thousands of craft shows in hundreds of cities in
the US. Every show has it’s own feel, attracting it’s own unique
cliental. It sounds as though you have attended this show before,
have there ever been jewelers of your caliber there? This is a good
measure of whether or not you would be successful. Bringing unique
products into a show for the first time can be richly rewarding or a
complete bust or somewhere in between. That is the risk of showing
in that venue. In a good economy, selling work that is within the
budget that shoppers are looking to spend with work that isn’t too
challenging for the clients taste and you’re all set for a good
show. Bring work that is too challenging or too expensive and you
may be set for disaster. <<The Philadelphia Folk Festival is a 3-day
"major event" that attracts top talent in music, as well as an
extremely loyal following of people.>>

But do people come here expecting to walk away with jewelry? Are
they going to hang out long enough for you to explain the uniqueness
of your product? If you have items priced to sell as impulse buys
then your level of success is better. Each show has it’s own range
of impulse price points. At some shows it’s $5, at others $500.
Talk to the show producers and ask them if they have any numbers on
this, or, find out who past vendors were and ask them what their
impulse buy items were priced at. If you can’t find this
you’re courting disappointment or at minimum accepting
the crap shoot mentality that craft shows can become.

Is it worth a $400 booth fee for a 10'x10' for the 3 days?

The general concessus is that you should reap ten times the booth
fee for a show to be good. Now, if this is your first time showing
there it may take a couple of shows to get to that level. But if it
is the right show and the right market for your work you will
eventually get to a level greater than 10x and make up for the first
show. If your average sale is $100 then you need to make 40 sales
to get to 10x booth fees, if your average sale is $50 then you have
to make 80 sales. If your average sale is $1000 you have to ask
whether or not the production company is really striving to bring in
shoppers who enough shoppers who would plunk down that kind of cash.
What is your average price per piece? This is a very important
number to know because you need enough pieces in the right price
range to even begin thinking about reaching your 10x booth fee goal.

And do you think that doing demos helps your sales?

No, unless you bring someone to do sales and someone to do demos and
the show really steers clients to booths that have demos, your
wasting your time. You are there to sell, not perform. Let the
musicians do the performing. If you want to bring some hand tools
to show clients the tools you use to make your work that works, but
keep your focus on making sales.

  If so, what do you generally do?  I hesitate to lug my tank and
torch around for something like that, but am scratching my head
about what people would find interesting to WATCH - I don't usually
think of jewelry-making as a spectator sport, if you know what I
mean.

First of all there better be a rule that vendors can’t bring
explosive compressed gas canisters to shows or else you will be the
reason that little rule gets started. One show I did a video of
myself and brought a little television to play the tape in a loop.
Even this was too distracting from making sales. I’d get talking to
someone watching the tape, answering inane questions then trying to
extricate myself without being rude when an interested customer came
by for the second time. People who want to buy generally don’t want
to waste time hanging around.

 The crafts are juried, but in the past the jurying has allowed
some "mistakes" to slip through. 

Sounds like they have spent more time deciding who the music
performers are than the crafters…not a good sign. I’d rather
exhibit at a show that attracts a few of the right customers (people
ready to buy and already educated about quality, price and medium)
using the rifle approach than exhibit at a show that depends on
getting enough people to walk by my booth to perhaps reach a couple
of interested, qualified souls.

Hope this is helpful
Larry


#5

Hello Karen, No comment on the show in question, but I will weigh in
on the demonatration query. Since I usually have to do shows solo, I
really don’t get much opportunity to demonstrate. BUT, when I do,
it always results in more attention and usually sales. It goes
without saying that you really need an assistant to tend shop while
you demonstrate. I use NG, so lugging the torch (& buffer) isn’t an
option, not to mention the concerns discussed in previous threads
about fire marshall’s rules. Therefore, I do things like knotting
pearls (or other beads), wire-wrapping, constructing bead links for
chains, etc. Your work may well have other production processes
that don’t depend on a torch or buffer. People do like to watch the
artist “working.” You could be hammering, sawing, filing, whatever.
If I could get my act together I’d work up a series of photos
showing a piece as it progresses through stages in production.
Guess that’s a hold-over from my teaching days.

I’m looking forward to learning about the kinds of demonstrations
others do at shows. Judy in Kansas, where the BIG game is in Lincoln,
NE this weekend, and the campus is all abuzz.

Judy M. Willingham, R.S.
B.A.E. 237 Seaton Hall
Kansas State University
Manhatttan KS 66506
(785) 532-2936 FAX (785) 532-6944


#6

Karen; As a regular attendee of the PFF, I can maybe offer some
hints. I can’t say as I patronize the vendor section but I do take a
stroll through there and there are some beautiful works on display -
metals, fabric based, traditional art, leather, clothes, etc. Most
of it is of a decent quality - not flea market crap.

I’ve never seen demos, but don’t know of a reason why it couldn’t be
done. I’d keep it simple if possible and schedule it. Unless it is
something like weaving where you can do it with little thought and
interact with the people.

As for the people, it is a real mix. I assume they are there for
the music and music lovers come in all types. There is the yuppie
crowd, and professionals too. On the other economic spectrum you’ll
find people who look and act like they just came down from the hills
or out of a trailer park (Clinton’s handler’s stereotype), to
hippies, an occasional biker, and some who appear to have been
dropped off from another planet and haven’t quite got the masquerade
right. And more men in skirts (although they call them quilts) than
you’ll see in any place outside of Scotland.

Very little drugs ,alcohol, or roudyism: They’re serious about
their no policies toward these issues. If you do you are gone.
Although in all honesty I have to say that this past year seemed not
as well policed as previous years.

Food venders charge normal prices for there wares too - not like
some places where water is $3 or more and a sandwich is $6. Although
in the campground the partying goes on all night. If you’re a light
sleeper make other arrangements. We stayed in a campground at a
distance this time and it was still easy to get to the events. The
bus schedule is well run along with the other components of the PFF.
Very little problems - of course they’ve had decades to get their act
together.

It’s a dedicated bunch - we come from Western Ohio and I assume lots
of people come from greater distances. Many people arrange their
family vacation around it.

They bring in music from all over the world. It is the only place I
know where you can hear the Homes Brothers, Odetta, and Mary
Chapin-Carpenter all on the same night.

I can’t say how you would do, but most of the vendors seem pretty
happy to be there.

Hope this helps. As you can tell I’m an advocate of the event - its
a good time and family friendly and something for everyone.

Eric


#7

From September through Christmas I do weekends at a museum, outdoors
in a courtyard (it gets pretty cold as the season progresses) and I
set up a small work table next to my display and do some work during
the day. I can do waxwork and piercing, both of which people find
fascinating. I talk to people about the lost wax process and other
aspects of jewelry making, and it seems to give them new
appreciation of what goes into the jewelry they’re looking at. Also
I can actually get some work done, which is really helpful when I’m
doing this every weekend and trying to stay relatively stocked up
through the season.

Janet Kofoed