Inventory planning for summer art shows

I would like to know if anyone out there has any tips they’d be
willing to share about planning for inventory at summer art shows.

Thanks so much,

I have done a lot of shows over the years and do one a month with an
arts group. MORE is better. Of course, you must have “an eye” for
what folks would want. The larger my inventory the greater my sales.
The artform is being about the have a variety and volume without be
crowded in your display.


In my opinion, you are asking a very difficult question because from
show to show you never know how much you are going to sell and
therefore never know how depleted your inventory is going to become.
This business and selling trends change with the wind and you can
never really be on top of it. You might sell gobs of expensive
pendants at one show and not one at the next - very hard to plan.
Another factor is how quickly you can produce work – I work slowly
and therefore, after having a good show I can’t recover inventory
very quickly. I think it is just the nature of this business to
sometimes be ahead of the game and sometimes behind. It also depends
on how comfortable you are in a booth that is not full. I can only
speak for myself when I say that I never feel good about a show when
my inventory is thin or old. So, when a situation arises where I’ve
sold more than I expected at a show and have another show coming up
back to back, I would rather cancel that next show than attend with
skimpy inventory, especially if that next show involves travel
expenses I think I’m not going to recover. Everyone of us has to book
more shows than we can handle because you never really know how it is
going to go. As you do more shows and you see what sells and how
quickly it sells, assuming you develop a selling pattern and good
customer base, you will be able to structure your downtime so it is
more productive and will also be able to schedule your shows better,
building your inventory in anticipation of your selling season.
Experience is the key and there’s no way to get it without cutting
your teeth.

Good Luck,

Hi Jeni,

I did three shows in April, one coming up in June, and two in July.
The sales were 10% less than last year. Did I consider less
inventory? NO! I brought the same amount to the shows as in previous
years, only adding a few items at a lower price point, $45-$65. The
results? The lower price point items didn’t sell. The difference this
year was that 85% of buyers paid in cash, average sale $125.00. So
remember to bring more cash for making change and expect to accept
more debit card transaction. I even had a one lay-away, which I never
would have considered in the past. Semi-precious (necklaces,
pendants, earring, bracelets) sold more than sterling and fine
silver pieces; that were great for me because I have a better margin
for profit with beads.

Hope this helps,

I’m grateful for the advice and tips - thank you so much.

So far I’m taking away that it’s better to slightly overstock. I had
never thought of canceling a show, though. A bit of naivet on my
part, and some unwillingness to lose the booth fee, I guess. On the
other hand, it makes good business sense - I would rather cancel than
show up looking unprepared and with a weak selection. I’ve never had
to consider it before this year.

And thanks for the tip about bringing extra cash… sometimes I man
the booth alone and it would be a nightmare to run out early and have
no way to get to a bank.

Thanks again for the insight!


P.S. Grace, I have to admit I’m scared to death and excited to cut
my teeth this year… where’s the novocaine? or whiskey?