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First show a bomb

So many of you sent words of encouragement about my first juried show that
I wanted to let you know how it went. Saying that I sold one pair of
earrings will give you a pretty good idea. At least I recovered my booth
fee. However, I was not alone. All of the smiths and other craftsmen at
the show had very few sales as well. One smith who had been doing the
show for 8 years sold only a quarter of what she normally does. It
appeared that most if not all of the people were there to simply kill time
and had not come with the intention of buying. To make matters worse, for
the first time, they had set up a circus size tent in the middle of our
booths full of local “crafters” hmmmm… I did get two very small
custom orders but basically no one even stopped to look, so I didn’t get
the feed back on my work I had hoped for. My work was well received by
the “seasoned” smiths, which was very encouraging. I did learn lots about
doing a show and very much enjoyed talking with the other craftsmen, and
believe me, there was plenty of time to do that! I had gone into the show
with no expectations, so atleast I am not feeling dissappointed. Today,
though, I am feeling very nonplussed and wondering where do I go from
here? Anyway, thanks for your help and your support. Mollie Brevard North

Dear Mollie-
Try not to be discouraged. It takes a bit of time to find your niche in
the business. My first show was a bust, too (six years ago). Things got
better, slowly, but surely. Good luck and keep on trying.


Don’t let one bad show get you down. Take what you learned and use it to
improve your work, presentation, marketing or whatever you can and go into
the next show with a positive attitude. One bad show doesn’t mean they
are all like that. Good Luck, Deb

Hi Mollie, Sorry about the show. That tent in the middle sounds like the
culprit. My only advice for the future is this: Always have your jewelry
out for sale. Always! Find a store in your area that would like the things
on consignment. You would then have them out for sale as well as insured.
Make the agreement that you will pull thing to do a show. Good luck. Tom


What a nightmare!! I’ve been doing shows for a long time, (I’m in
Virginia and do shows in NC as well), and most of my money is made at
them. Which one did you do? Some are much better than others. E-mail me
off list, give me a brief description of your work and price points, and
maybe I can recommend some somewhat local shows that would be good for

Wendy Newman

Hi Mollie -

I can sympathize!!! Been there, done that, came away with nothing but a
sunburn!!! In my case I didn’t make back even half the booth fee.
Frustrating. The positive was that at least I was able to relive some
good memories of my mother when we did shows together.

All you can do is shrug and try again. While it’s still fresh in your
mind, write out some notes about what you feel you did right, what you
could do better, what you saw at other booths that you liked etc., etc.
Next time it may be different, you never know!

Take care!

Dianne Karg, B.A.A.I.D.
WRAPTURE wire jewellery
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

So many of you sent words of encouragement about my first juried show
that I wanted to let you know how it went. Saying that I sold one pair
of earrings will give you a pretty good idea. At least I recovered my
booth fee.

Mollie…I’m betting that you’ll get more support now than you did
before the show !!
Every one of us has gone thru this sort of show, unfortunately this was
your first time out and it probably took a lot of wind out of your sails.
Pick yourself up and do it again.
It helps alot to research these shows before you sign up by asking other
dealers about their experience with a particular show. Some Show
organizers and some show locations are just never worth while and it takes
time to weed these out. The important thing to remember is that this was
just ONE show and the next one is bound to be better.

Sol K.


I hope the other ‘seasoned’ smiths shared the names of some good shows
with you. One of the best ways to find good shows is talking with other
artists who have comparable skills, styles and price ranges. With a
circus tent in the center for the locals I agree that the show was a bit
biased. Think I would pass that one next time! IMHO if the other artists
appreciated your work you can have no greater compliment, but compliments
and bucks are even better. You’ll make the bucks when you find the
right type of show to market your work. Good luck and don’t give up!

Nancy <@nbwidmer>
ICQ# 9472643
Bacliff, Texas US on the Gulf Coast just blocks from Galveston Bay

Sorry about your show! these things do happen, even to those of us
who have been at it a while. ( I remember one show, I made NOTHING).
a word to the wise- it’s a good idea to think a year ahead of time. Read
reviews of the shows, VISIT shows you think you might apply to. Ask other
exhibitors at the shows you visit about the show- if they keep returning,
it’s probably pretty good. Good luck- Anne


I know how you feel. I have just started doing shows also. The first
couple were basically learning experiences. I did cover the cost of the
booth and the inventory that I sold…but more importantly I feel I
learned a few things. Overall my work was received well and I had a
couple of people come real close to buying things that could have made the
shows successful. At my second show I was surprised when they awarded me
2nd place for design…doesn’t pay anything but it made me feel good.
I did receive a nice order a couple months after that show that made it
worthwhile. One thing we are doing is creating a mailing list from our
shows. I think over time this will be a valuable tool.

Good luck in the future and learn from what you do best.

Joe Kilpatrick

Hi Mollie,

A case in point on the fickle nature of shows.

I am showing enameled wall pieces for the first time this year at
shows. A few weeks ago I did a fairly well known show in my area
that I did well at last year, it was 96 degrees…I made 2 sales,
not big ones either and although nobody went home rich I watched
the Raku guy and others nearby sell decently so I couldn’t even
blame the heat. I was really questioning my choice to get out of
jewelry at shows.

This last weekend I did another show nearby…Oakbrook Invitational
for those curious…sold several big pieces plus enough others to
make a decent chunk of change, won an award that came with a chunk
of cash as well, while other artists were complaining about sales.
One of the jurors stopped by to tell me how wonderful and exciting
he thought my work was.

I guess my point is…there are alot of factors out there we
can’t always anticipate or understand and if you feel you are
heading in the right direction don’t let one (or six for that
matter) bad show turn you off to the whole thing. I am an artist
because I can’t imagine anything else I would rather be
doing…enduring the bad times are more than worth the end rewards
if you can spend your life creating things you love.




Oh Mollie, I’m so sorry. My first outdoor show – I sold
nothing but one polishing cloth and cottonwood trees blew their
white flower stuff all over everything. It was horrible. I
hadn’t researched enough, turned out the area wasn’t affluent
enough and didn’t understand handcrafted prices.

Chicago, Illinois, US
Great Lakes
…back after subscribing to the digest while I went on a trip…