Types of Shows you avoid

I am a little into my second year of doing shows. I have made some
bad choices once or twice just because I was promised that "monied"
people would be at the show in droves.

I would love to see comments about the TYPES of shows you avoid or
are drawn to.

So far I have been able to draw a couple of conclusions:

  1. I won’t do a show again that is purely about “having fun” and is
    guaranteed to be chaotic. I am an animal lover and I did a show
    where people who attended also brought their dogs. It was a “Rescue
    the Animals” type benefit. People were not there with the INTENTION
    of buying anything or even looking–it was about the dogs and having
    fun with them.

  2. I have read that one should avoid shows that are about
    music–music festivals, in other words. So far, I have found that to
    be true but surely there must be some music festivals with fine arts
    shows that are good selling venues?

  3. Haven’t done a gem and mineral show yet. Anyone know about that?
    Anyone done a Home and Garden show?

  4. So far my best shows have been fine arts festivals.

J. S. Ellington

This advice I received from a beading artists that has done shows
for more than 20 years…

Avoid shows with some kind of food in the name… people are there
for the food, not your art: … BBQ Festival… Strawberry Festival…
Sweet Potato Festival…

Avoid shows with a beach theme… people are there to buy only stuff
that’s $10 and under

Avoid shows with music themes… people are there to hear music and
hang out and will only buy impulse purchases

After doing some shows last year that were promised to be good but
were not for one reason or another (not just the weather), I’m adding
that it’s best to do only shows that you or an artist buddy has
actually attended. It’s the only sure way to know that it’s well
organized, advertised, and draws the type of customer that will buy
your work.

Good luck! Elizabeth

This is a great topic. I have learned (since I have been in business
now for my first year) to avoid quasi-fashion shows. There are many
people who tend to prey upon young “up and comers” and sell
themselves to you that they promote like crazy and that stylists will
pick you up to put your work in photo spreads for big name magazines
if you pay to participate in a fancy SoHo loft show. There are A LOT
of them in NYC. And I feel like they just leach off of the creativity
of others to make a buck.

So far, the best shows for me have been doing special “meet the
artist” weekends with demos and formal visitations to the galleries I
am repped by.

I am interested in hearing others’ lists!


I’ve learned alot over the past 9 years on doing shows.

  1. Location, location, location. Choose areas that are higher
    economic areas.

  2. I only do shows that are juried & with high expectations.

  3. Spaces run up to $600.00 (Could be more) for an average 10x10

  4. I send in my applications early & request spaces in high traffic
    areas, ie: near an entrance; corners if possible. My chances are
    good for a desirable location if I commit early.

  5. Doing the high end shows eliminates those who sell the imported
    things which are unacceptable.

  6. If it’s a show I haven’t done before, I call & talk to someone
    Re: the location. If it’s a show I do regularly, I assess the
    location when I’m doing the show to see if I prefer moving to a
    different show location.

I hope this is helpful,
Regards, Audie Beller of Audie’s Images-

Any show with a beer garden or rock band. Almost any show that
doesn’t have a list of excluded mediums on the application (t-shirts,
dried flowers etc.)

I once did the #1 show for the year in sunshine artist (a borrowed
copy and I never listened again). I did $1200 in 4 days after
traveling to another state. They opened a new area the day of the
show and all these “artists” who knew they do this were standing
there waiting to set up 1 hour before the show started. Hard to
compete with sand art, sawdust jewelry and painted t-shirts on the
next block. I was one of the lucky ones in my row with even $1200 in
sales. I can’t remember the name but it was outside of Detroit in a
suburb to the Southwest.

Karen, who prefers shows with awards and judges that have name

I try to avoid all arts and crafts shows now. I use to be in a lot
of them. Made pretty good money and met a whole bunch of nice people.
But you kind of get burnt out from them and then the ones that are
real disappointing. You learn to stay away from the shows at the
armory, high school gym, the church lobby, any place that is not open
to the public on a regular bases. Some shows inside of malls are not
too bad if they are around Christmas and the malls are packed. The
more people the more chance of selling, at least you hope. One thing
about some of the shows/art fairs now, is that they all brag about
how many “artist” will be attending. Even the jury shows are all
looking for how big they can make it. All that I have seen happen is
that now the T-shirt stenciler is now an artist. On the other hand,
some other type of mass produced craft is now next to you and people
gasp about how expensive your pieces are selling compared to the guy
selling $2 buttons. It also seems they try to make it as much as a
circus as possible and you are the entertainer. They invite too many
things for people to spend their money on instead of the purpose of
the show, example - car raffles, (one show I was at they had four
different societies having raffles to win a car at $25 a ticket).
Bottom line; visit the show you want to be in the year before you
attend. If it is, a first time show, be leery of not much of a crowd.
Try to stay away from the ones with the carnival.

Warren Townsend

Anyone done a Home and Garden show? 

Yes, as a rule I would avoid anything with the word “home” in it.
The folks that attend these show’s are just “looking and getting
ideas,” for home improvements, such as a new roof or driveway

I currently sell handmade pottery at spring garden shows in the
Pacific Northwest. I have observed (a very few) jewelers who set up
every year at these very expensive shows (sometimes booth fees are
over $1600). They keep coming back, so I presume they have found a
niche market for their very “gardener and flower’” oriented work.

I have found that the best way to find out about shows is to ask
other vendors while I am at a show. I have observed that people love
being asked their opinion and will divulge all their great shows,
that they think may work for you, as well as give you tips on
everything from “hot” items to make more $$, and great places to get
cheap lodging and food. I have even asked these more seasoned
vendors what they think my strategy should be for a particular show,
such as high-end, low-end, etc.

More than a few times I have gotten the names of crafts people from
show promoters, and called them as way to do research on whether a
show would be viable for me or not. Mostly, I ask, “Is there any
money there?”. Amazingly, I have never been turned down for this
request. It all helps.

Holly Gonnella

I have done gem and mineral shows in Tucson, New york, Las Vegas,
Chicago, San Francisco, Florida, Atlanta and Scottsdale. All the
shows with the exception of Tucson which is where I live were break
even propositions due to the high cost of booths hotel and meals.
You make your money after the show through contacts and special
orders. These shows were all wholesale and the show promoters really
put the screws to you in Las Vegas I was not allowed to bring my
bags through the lobby because they were filled with my display
equipment they had to brought through the loading dock and handled
by union workers who charged by the pound to carry the stuff to my
booth then I had to pay $100 dollars to rent a chair, I could not
bring my own or go buy my own I had to rent theirs. I have
determined through several years of doing shows that they are not
worth the trouble I have gone to consigning my work with jewelers
around the country, it is much cheaper and less of a pain than
jumping on airplanes and renting cars taking cabs and carrying heavy
stuff all over the country. I have not tried any small craft shows
because I was unsure if people would buy fine jewelery from someone
in a tent on a street corner.


DITTO, Also stay away from show selling food every 10 feet. I just
hate to be set up near the pickles.

Jennifer Friedman

I would avoid anything that has food at the show - my very first
show (BIG mistake) was a July Bar-B-Q that promised big crowds and
hand made artisan crafts. HA. It was a Bar-B-Q with resale junk of
slightly higher quality than what one might find at garage sales. The
people stopping at my booth almost had a heart attack at my prices,
and they were WELL below what I have since learned was the
appropriate price, even for wholesale. I have since learned to read
the show descriptions better - read between the lines - and do
something basic my husband suggested (and someone else on the list
also suggested on this thread) and that is to go and visit the show
first before you commit to doing it. - Dee Dee

Just a follow-up. I just did the Home and Garden Show that I was
planning last weekend. It was in Wichita Falls, TX–had to stay in
motels. It was sponsored by the Center for the Arts there and was
supposed to have 16,000+ in attendance. I was also told it was the
social event of the year, attended by the creme de la creme.

The people who were in attendance for the most part were there to
get give-aways. It was unique to the other shows I have done in the
number of people who approached me to melt down old jewelry or fix
old jewelry, etc. I had a number of hand-forged, one-of-a-kind,
pieces under $50.00 which were the best sellers, but even on those
they tried to horse-trade and get me to come down. They tried on
every ring and every bracelet and oooohed and aaaaahed but did not
buy. I lost about $600.00 in expenses I did not cover.

We have another Home and Garden show this coming weekend only two
hours away so we can come home to sleep.

My husband travels with me to help me in the booth (and especially
with the displays) and we always have to go the expense of two rooms
or a suite because he snores so loudly. Anyone found a cheap
solution to that problem? We have tried chin straps, mouthpieces,
herbal sprays and tablets, Breathe Right Strips, noise machines,
etc. to no avail. He does not have sleep apnea but probably needs a
rhinoplasty. He sleeps great so we don’t want to go the surgery
route. I am high-strung and a light sleeper.

J. S. Ellington

Hello JS Ellington, Bummer about the poor H&G show, but I had to grin
at your question about the spouse snoring! Same problem here. My
solution? Earplugs for myself. They don’t completely exclude the
snoring, but bring it down to an ignorable level. A white noise
machine might help too. Good luck!! I’ll bet we are not the only
ones with this problem. Judy in Kansas

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

I snore, and my wife is a light sleeper. she uses Mack’s “Pillow
Soft Earplugs”. available at Wal-Mart, K-Mart, Walgreen’s, plus…
She sleeps through much else besides ‘my earth quakes’. Cheap and
effective! and multiple uses. I just thought of it, the boxes are
clear snap top boxes, I must try to use as storage boxes

Hope this helps, Ed

I have slept for years with the soft silicone ear plugs that
swimmers use wedged tightly into my ears. It helps. It also helps
that he took some golfing trips with buddies who complained about
his snoring. Before that, he would deny that he had ever been asleep
and that was maddening!

Marilyn Smith