OK, Tom, I answered Courtney off-forum, but sinse you ask, here’s a
copy of what I sent to her. Hope somebody finds it useful.
Naturally, I can’t tell you what will sell. I can only tell you
about my experience.
My first year at the show, I paid the $300 extra for a corner booth,
but got one with a post, 3 feet or so on a side, in the corner. Same
cost as a real, open corner! Because of that, or location, or who
knows what, I seemed to be pretty much invisible. I only covered my
expenses. However, I felt that it should be a good show-- not sure
why. So I gave it a second try. The second time, I sold twice as
much, making it a passable show-- and, of course, if I continue to
The main thing I was pleased about was that I sold pretty much
exclusively in the $150 to $600 range, though I have (and showed)
things down to $60. At most shows, it is mostly the $60-$150 that
sells. I took an order for a $650 piece, nothing higher.
This time, I had a regular 10-foot booth, but in a much more central
location. I sent out 50 sets of free passes to previous customers (I
live in the area, so I have a mailing list) along with a flier
showing my newest work and offering a gift if you mentioned it (a
polishing cloth), but only one person did that, so I don’t think the
mailing helped. I had also listed the show on my postcard mailing
months earlier… can’t say about that one.
It’s an odd show. Very well-run, efficient (except for move-out,
which took 4 hours), businesslike. I didn’t get to walk the show at
all my first year, as I was alone, and only got to see about a third
of it this year, but what I saw was fairly apalling. I’d say about
10% good work, 30% OK, the rest varying degrees of crap. A lot of
bead-stringers, garish paintings, mass-produced-looking garments and
scarves… even some giant Humpty-Dumptys. But maybe that made me
stand out more, I don’t know.
Thus far, they have offered accepted exhibitors a new contract (at
slightly discounted price) to return. After the upcoming show, they
are shifting to completely re-jurying each year. This will allow
them to improve quality, which I believe they want to do. I just
hope they get a real jury-- I didn’t get the sense that the people
running the show were really sensitive to the signs that work was
mass-produced or buy/sell, such as a whole row of identicle rings
with various stones, or a long rack of the same garment. The work at
the show is mostly NOT one of a kind! But they may be changing that,
and they have promised to make it “as easy as possible” for
returning artists to re-jury, so it might be worthwhile to get a
foot in the door now.
As for what to bring-- I always feel that schlepping the inventory
is the least of it, when it comes to traveling for a show. I would
not have the confidence to leave anything behind, for fear THAT was
what would have sold.
I hope this helps-- I suspect it is not what you were hoping for. A
friend (jeweler) who has been doing OoaK for several years sold a
$2400 all-silver bracelet the first night, so buyers are not just
looking for bling.