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Partner in show booth walks off

Has this every happened to you? What would you have done faced with
this situation?

I was invited to participate in an outdoor show. The promoter had
seen my work and I was given an invitation to participate—no need
for me to screen. I declined as I have no one to help me, and
therefore am not able to do outdoor shows. The promoter then called
to tell me that there was another artist who was in a similar
situation. I figured this would be just great as we could have
adjourning booths and could keep an eye on each other’s things if a
break was needed.

Well, it developed that she didn’t want an adjourning booth, but
wanted to share a booth to cut costs. I was reluctant as I preferred
my own booth, but finally agreed to booth sharing, and the show
promoter was kind enough to give us a corner booth at no extra cost.

There were little signs all along the way that should have alerted
me to future problems, I will spare you the details…

The show was held in an open field—not unusual for outdoor shows
in this part of the country. When I arrived, I learned that my booth
partner had already checked in. I proceeded with checking in, when my
booth partner drove up, said she had inspected the booth, and that it
was filthy. She announced that she was leaving, that she did not
intend to do the show as the field was dusty. The woman checking us
in said that after everyone had finished loading in the dust would
subside and not be a problem. They had covered the ground with straw,
I there was really not that much dust to worry about.

Before we had a chance to discuss the situation, she drove off,
leaving me alone.

I drove to to the booth (they had provided the tents), and true there
was some dust, but nothing to really be concerned about. Most of it
was on the road outside the tent. Inside was relatively free.
Everyone was busy setting up, and did not seem concerned about a bit
of dust.

Well, losing a partner posed a real problem for me, mainly,the fact
that I just could not do the show alone. The hours were long–10 AM
to 9 PM. With a corner booth, open on two sides, it would have been
difficult to set up in a way that would prevent people from reaching
in and just helping themselves to my jewelry. Had two of us been
there, both open areas would have been covered.

There I was. I did not know any of the other artists in my area.
They were all busy setting up their own things. The show was to start
in 2 hours. I did not have anyone I could call at the last minute to
come to help me. I could not locate any of the people involved with
the show—it was a big one–over 200 people participating.

So reluctantly I had to leave. I am out over $350, and I am sure the
show promoter will blacklist me for future shows. I did email him, to
explain the situation, and hope he understands.


Dear Alma,

Last year I was invited (with one week to prepare!) to take part in
a Holiday Craft fair for the Junior League of America. I had never
done a show before and was quite nervous, but decided to take on the

I had no one to help me carry things in or set up, so it was quite
challenging. It was an all day show, 8:00 am to 7:00 pm. I had no
idea how I was going to be able to pull this off. BUT, I have to
say, that all the other crafters around me were more than helpful and
accommodating. They watched over my booth when I needed to go get
food or go to the bathroom. In fact, it helped to open the door of
communication with my fellow vendors. Not only did they help me out
a great deal, they also became new friends.

Besides loving the experience of meeting new customers, I really
enjoyed the support and encouragement of my fellow crafters.

So, next time, I recommend biting the bullet and just jumping in.
You’ll be surprised how many people will want to help you.

Here’s hoping for a much better experience next time!!!

All my best,

Here are a few more details as to why I was really in the lurch when
the person who was to share my booth walked off.

We had arranged for electricity. She was going to bring two big
clamp on lamps that would light the entire tent, plus additional
lamps for her cases. I was bringing the extension cords, and power
strips. The only other lighting I would have would be the small lamps
built into my jewelry cases. They were o.k. to light the jewelry, but
that was all the light they shed. When she walked off, she took her
lamps with her.

She was going to provide a small table for us to wrap things, I was
to provide a rug for the floor of the tent. In other words, we had
divided up what was needed, and when she left she took her things,
leaving me with no way of lighting the tent----tiny little lamps in
jewelry cases just wouldn’t cut it, as the show ran until 9 PM, and
by 8 PM, it was pretty dark.

Also we were to help each other loading in the heavy things–cases,
tables etc. etc. No way could I manage those alone. It was one of the
hottest days of the year (l00 degrees). Everyone was busy setting up
their own booths. I could not locate any of the people in charge of
the show to get help. Hence my having to leave. As I mentioned, one
of my concerns is that the promoters of the show will hold it against
me, and blacklist me for future shows. I did email them to try to
explain the situation, and can only ho= pe for the best.

I am trying not to be upset about this, but I was just so
disappointed, as I was so very eager to participate in the show.

If I learned anything from this experience it is that I need a
back-up plan to cover all the contingencies.


faced with the situation I would have jumped for joy at not having to
share a space with a stranger, dealt with the temporary dust cloud
and stayed at the show - seems like the booth would have paid for
itself about mid-day! Given you had a personal invitation to skip
the red tape from the promoter, you knew it was outdoors, &your
apparent mistrust of the public won out over your need to sell your
work or have it seen by a large group for an extended period in any
case…at least you could have stayed 8 hours or until you checked out
the crowd and calmed down about theft ( doesn’t everyone carry
insurance- or buy into it from the promoters who should have
insurance- and there’s always a local police report to be made should
it occur, if it’s worth the effort- and by that i mean: in my opinion
if a piece is 35 bucks, it may not be worth the effort to pursue, if
it’s a $3500.00 piece then a police report - at the least- would be
in order, barring any other insurance…Most don’t realize but their
auto insurance often has riders available for carrying/transporting
jewelry and using the vehicle to deliver jewelry to trade events if
the car is registered as for both business and personal use,
following that- then the time with the vehicle as an extension of
your domicile,is coverable under one’s comprehensive policy!!!), you
could have opted to close one corner of the tent or before
prepared your display to prevent theft (doesn’t everyone
take those measures as de rigueur for outdoor shows -if it’s a
concern anyway?) your choice- in my opinion was perhaps not the best
option you could have taken given that you knew the show was upcoming
before committing to it- and could have hired someone off of your
local Craig’s list as security if nothing else…(off duty police
officers in this area are available for 100 bucks or close to that
per 6 hours. )…

Hi, Alma,

In other words, we had divided up what was needed, and when she
left she took her things

I understand your distress and dismay. It was very unprofessional of
your partner to leave you in the lurch. You really got thrown in at
the deep end. By the same token, though, I can’t help but feel you
gave up too easily-- easy to do in the shock of being thrown on your
own resources. But doing art fairs, like making art or jewelry, is
an exercise in adaptability and creative problem-solving.

Had you stayed, you would have found a way. Instead of putting
tables across the two sides, which you felt you couldn’t watch,
you’d have put them in a diagonal facing the corner. You’d have
snagged somebody to help you for the few minutes it took to
unload. When it got dark, your sales might have stopped, but you
wouldn’t be out the cost of your booth plus possibly being excluded
from future shows, plus you’d have had the gratification of knowing
you had done your best in a bad situation. At worst, you’d have just
lost the time and energy it took to be at the show. At best, it
would have been a good experience and maybe even income.

I may be a bit pig-headed about this, but I feel that if one takes
on a professional gig, it is necessary to act like a professional.
You never know what resources you will find, from within and
without, until you need them.


BTW, Re:“pig-headed”-- are pigs unreasonably difficult to deter when
they’ve made up their mind? It’s an odd expression!

I know Alma & I think her decision to walk was valid. She’s a
trooper in the worst of times. If she sez it wasn’t doable, it wasn’t

I don’t know what show it was, but there are several “promoter” red
flags. First she was invited “no need to jury.” This tells me the
person was having a hard time filling spaces and was desperate. She
declined, stated the reason & the promoter came back at her with a
person to share the space. Few shows allow artists to share space.
2nd Red Flag

Then the partner flakes. 3rd red flag-she wasn’t informed by
promoter about what she was in for. Sounds like an amateur run event
from the get-go. The promoter has some responsibility for this mess.

Alma you did the right thing. And if this promoter is mad so be.
They won’t be doing shows for long if this is how they organize them.
They need to refund at least part of your booth fee.

Who has been involved in organizing successful shows, so I’m not just
blathering. :sunglasses:

Ok…where do I start?

Your booth mate leaving the show was unprofessional. Your leaving
the show was unprofessional. You are right. The promoter will
absolutely blacklist you and rightfully so. You initially wanted
adjoining booths. An adjoining booth would not prevent theft, as your
booth is not their responsibility, and watching your work is merely a
courtesy. Once your booth mate bailed, you could have asked the
promoter to switch the booth giving you a booth that was not a
corner. That way, you could have simply zipped on your wall on when
you had to leave for food or bathroom. Many of the artists would
have been grateful to switch to a corner. Dust? Its outdoors…lol

I have been the show promoter at Topanga Days here in So Cal for the
last two years. Its been an eye opener being on the other side. This
year we had rain. Every artist came. Everyone set up. This one guy
complained non-stop. Surrounding booths started to call him “Mr
Grumpy”. To make things worse, sales were very slow because of the
weather. At the end of the first day, Mr Grumpy declared that he
wanted to leave. Artists in the surrounding booths talked him out of
it as they didn’t want an empty space in the middle of their booths.
None the less, this guy announces to me mid-day on day 2 that he was
going. I facilitated it, simply because I and everyone else had had
enough of the whining about things that couldn’t be changed. we made
his booth into a seating area.

Funniest thing. Almost the minute he left, sales picked
up…radically. Undoubtedly coincidence, but It was as though his
black cloud had tainted the sales at the surrounding booths. Mr
Grumpy’s departure became a running joke among the artists. They all
planned to remember his name and ask him to leave at the next show.
Yes. I blacklisted him.

Outdoor shows are unpredictable. Almost all of us roll with it.
Those that are fussy should not do them, if only to save everyone
else the unnecessary added aggravation that they bring along with
them. Shows are aggravating enough.

I will be in Sedona. My first outdoor retail show in many years. Who
else will be there?

Lisa, (Chickens have laid so many eggs I am running out of recipes!)
Topanga, CA USA

After reading Carla’s post…I tend to sway my opinion somewhat…I
agree that the promoter should be held partially responsible however
not knowing if the show was juried or not, i can’t speak to why the
promoter allowed her to skip the "red tape’.Alma said it was because
the promoter knew her and her work, thus the promoter seems to have
been jury and judge and barring the important details Alma omitted in
the 1st post: I would have perhaps, taken a different position.I do
agree that a red flag would have been flailing in the wind for me if
the “boothmate” and I were to split tasks…but that’s just my
managemnt style- I NEVER depend on anyone else when setting my
display exactly how I want my work to be displayed, lit, and
merchandised.Equally though, i would have gotten in the car and found
the promoter and as tactfully as possible -given the person a choice
between finding me help in setting up or refunding my booth fee on
the spot - but I tend to be quite zealous in interpreting contracts,
and forking over a booth fee to me implies a contract…goods for
services…in this case a quality artisan helping to validate my show
by distinguishing it from a tailgating event - presuming there were
other ‘quality artisans’ that did go through red-tape to show-
however considering the promoter calling her at the last minute etc.,
and having met with many exceptionally poor promoters, show producers
and gallery owners/managers globally, it is likely that that promoter
made many other deals to “fill space”, like the deal offered to

However regarding sharing space with a stranger…I would,most
emphatically- NEVER have put myself in that situation…I hope Alma,
you heed that warning if nothing else I am speaking of…

From what I have heard of your reputation, you are a “dooer”, and
those willing to pitch in more than their fair share always get taken
advantage of… don’t get taken advantage of in the future.

Perhaps you should contact the promoter and have that discussion
about your booth fee refund- stand up for yourself- you received
nothing at the urging of the promoter to participate- you shouldn’t
foot the bill, even in part,not simply because of the boothmate’s
irrational behaviour ( the promoter must have contacted that person
and posed the proposition to her as well before contacting you), but
because there was, from your description, no vendor support to be
found- thus the promoter failed you moreover. And while getting in
the car and wrangling it yourself, you shouldn’t have had to at a
show with 200 vendors. Promoters should have assistance on hand -
that is a show standard…to me that would have been a red flag in

Ah, once again, Carla’s post forces me to think things through more