This past weekend I had a booth at the Art by the Falls art festival in Chagrin Falls, OH (a fancy-paints suburb of Cleveland). I busted ass working 14 hour days for the two weeks prior to the art festival making benches, plant stands, boxes, and tying up other business related loose ends with the hopes of getting a good idea whether or not I can get a start traveling the art show circuit.
My application for receiving credit card payments went through at 9:30 AM the first day of the show. And boy am I glade that happened in time for the show.
The weather was extremely hot and humid and it drizzled on and off the first day, needless to say it wasn’t the best environment for furniture.
The people were pleantiful and the compliments flowed, but the business was absent. Until an older woman (60-70) walked in with her daughter and expressed deep interest (like everyone else) in one of my benches. She said that she “would be back the next day if she still wanted it”. They walked out of my booth. About 5 min later they came back and said “we made it 3 booths down and decided we really wanted it”. BOOM! $591.47 (tax included) in my newly opened business bank account. That paid for the booth fee, application fee, tent, some materials, and travel. I am in the black!
Nothing happened the rest of the day other than more nice compliments and pleasant conversations with patrons. Until right before the festival was closing down for the night, a volunteer came up and gave me a check for $75 and 3rd place ribbon for 3-D sculpture. That really got my spirits up and ended the day on a high note.
The next day was more pleasant, weather wise, even though it had thunder stormed the night before and all my furniture was left there over night (not much of an option). Sunday started out pretty much the same way Saturday did, not much in the ways of business. Then a Husband of another exhibitor stopped by and dropped off a security deposit to commission a custom designed bench. 1 hour later a woman who was there the day before must have slept on it, came back and bought a plant stand ($215 please), thank you.
Shortly after another woman who said she would be back the next day actually came back and bought a bench. It took a little selling on my part to seal the deal. She wanted to put in in front of her window but was unsure if she liked the height of the armrests. This could have been a complete deal breaker. I came up with the solution for her “to go ahead and buy this bench now, put in where you want it and let it sit for a week. If you still feel like you want a custom dimensioned bench, I will take this one back and build you another one”. That was the first time I really felt like I sold a product and closed a customer.
I sold another small “stash” box for $10 and that was it in terms of money generated that weekend. But, I feel confident I will have at least 1 or 2 custom orders from the festival. And that is where I believe the money will be.
I realize I am not exactly making the big bucks, but it is not a bad spot to grow from. I have to remember that I can have shows where I don’t make a dime and others can make my month. I guess it only mattes where I am at the end of the year.
With all money aside, I met half a dozen amazing artists exhibiting their work that weekend. These people were kind, talented, and eager to share their experiences and wisdom with me to help a young artist succeed in his craft. I know I will be keeping in close contact with these individuals over the course of my career and I am excited to see what the future holds for me.
My next art show will be at Boston Mills in Ohio June 25th -27th if anyone will be in the area stop by my both and buy something, JK.
It is nice to be able to buy materials with money generated from woodworking.
Thanks for reading,
-- You can't stand apart unless you're prepared to stand alone. Alex, Cleveland