I’ve had a few emails lately from LJs asking why I have been suspiciously quiet for the last few months. I just didn’t have anything to write about. I use to say that everything I know I learned in kindergarten. However, I just recently learned an important lesson. Craft shows suck when it’s cold, rainy, or both.
March is maybe too early for outdoor shows here in Atlanta. I have so far participated in three shows. The first one, the Conyers Cherry Blossom Festival, is the first big show of the year with average attendance of 50,000. I pulled my trailer over to the site Friday morning in a downpour. I think the fastest speed I could safely reach on the Interstate was about 40. It was raining so hard when I got there that I just dropped my trailer behind my booth space and went home. I didn’t show back up until 6 AM Sunday. Saturday was completely rained out. Some of the crafters that setup in the rain on Friday, no longer had a tent by Sunday because of straight-line winds and storms on Saturday. Sunday gave way to howling wind and temperatures in the high forties. I started the day out with a hooded sweatshirt and by noon the temperature had dropped so much that I added a fleece jacket on top of it. I was surprised how many people actually came out on Sunday. It was just enough to allow me to realize a small profit after expenses. Many of the crafters around me didn’t make their booth fee, so I felt real lucky. I keep thinking what it could have been with two full days and decent weather.
I was whipped after this show. I have a one day show set up and a two day+ setup. The one day consists of an Ez-Up tent, all tables, and half of my product inventory. It’s real easy and quick to setup. My two day setup uses a Trim Line tent, a couple of tables, a large shelving system, and most of my inventory. It is real tough setting up and tearing down my two day package in one day.
The next show, also in March, was a one day Saturday show in a very affluent neighborhood in Atlanta called Virginia-Highland. Now I assume when the weather forecast is for partly cloudy, it also means partly sunny. I didn’t see any sunshine until after the end of the show. Here again, it was cold and a little windy all day with customers walking around in designer winter jackets. This show is at the corner of a major intersection and in the heart of the restaurant section, so there is normally a lot of foot traffic. Traffic was light all day and if I wasn’t working, I think I would have stayed inside most of the day also. Again, I was able to squeak out a small profit, but much smaller than I would have expected.
My recent two day show, the Smyrna Jonquil Festival, gave way to mid 80s and sunny skies all weekend. This show was a crafters ideal weekend. It had perfect weather, great location, and thousands of customers. My booth was packed all weekend. Everyone was blown away by my products, then they walked out without buying anything. It was the saddest thing I’ve ever experienced, and the worst Saturday sales I have seen to date. All the other crafters I talked to experienced the same thing. Sunday, however, was a different animal. I quadruple my sales from the previous day in the first 30 minutes of the opening. Still, total sales were disappointing considering the weather and how large the crowds were.
I’ve noticed that the Government is releasing a lot a press lately with “U.S. recession appears to be easing” or “Consumer confidence is increasing”. This is nothing but smoke and mirrors. People are still not buying. My closure rate on closets is still dismal. I have been fortunate that I have had a large basement remodel with a lot of custom casework going for the past month. I also just closed a sale on a very large multiple closet project last week. I just don’t have the continuous influx of jobs that puts me in a comfort zone. My primary local source for thermofoil doors just closed last month and I’m still getting bankrupt notices from the courts for builders I use to do a lot business with. It’s still brutal out there, but I somehow continue to survive.
-- I don't make mistakes, only design changes....www.dgmwoodworks.com