I had some interest from fellow Lumberjocks to let them know how the sales were at the show this weekend. Here’s a lengthy recap. You may want to get some snacks now or visit the restroom before proceeding.
Day one of art show box sales is in the books. Day two is tomorrow. Let’s start at the beginning.
Boxguy came up with a bright idea months ago, that he and I team up and present our boxes to the world at a local art show. I agreed and the wheels were set in motion. The committee took applications(for a juried show) complete with photographs and we went to meet the show’s director. Astute as he was, he loved our boxes. He was in fact thrilled that we wanted to participate. He and his staff gushed at the photographs we showed them, and Boxguy even provided some actual boxes for them to assess. Their amazement and kudos swelled our heads a little and we left that meeting feeling pretty darn good about our chances.
As the show approached, Boxguy worked on his boxes as did I, and we both came up with different ways to display our creations. I opted for shelves and built a set of four that I liked very much. They are portable and finished with stone paint. They came out even nicer than I’d hoped even though it took 5 cans of paint and three cans of primer. Boxguy opted for a table with a raised shelf in the back. It came out very nicely and we were set. Boxes were ready, displays were ready.
We borrowed a tent from a student boxbuilder of Boxguy and met one evening to practice the setup. Things went smoothly and we were set. We invited friends and colleagues to the event through e-mail and facebook, and both of us obtained square credit card readers. We didn’t want there to be any excuse that people couldn’t go home with one of our boxes.
I loaded up 36 boxes and Boxguy readied about 30. We wrapped each box in a towel or fabric and transported them in bags with handles, careful not to damage the goods. I had lid boxes, boxes with trays, big boxes, little boxes, common woods, exotic woods, and just about every kind of box I’ve ever posted here on LJ. BG had boxes with all the various choice woods, boxes with fabric, some with stained glass, tea boxes, card boxes, and boxes of all shapes and sizes. His selection was quite impressive.
The venue was superb. A five foot high brick wall surrounded the courtyard of a 19th century mansion. An impressive fountain sprayed all day straight ahead of us. Massive beautiful trees provided shade and luscious grass was underfoot for all vendors. Our own particular site was under a big old tree, ensuring us a shady experience. A breeze kept us cool all day. It was a perfect atmosphere. Allowed to set up the day before, we loved our spot, and our table and shelves went up without a hitch. Boxguy set up his boxes and covered them with a tarp, and I decided to wait until Saturday to break out my wares.
Game day arrived and we were ready. I got there an hour early and filled my shelves with boxes. Wow. What a selection. It was a two day show and I only brought 36 boxes. What if they sold out by noon? What would I do tomorrow? Boxguy had about two dozen out. We could be in trouble if we sold out quickly. We both had more at home, about a half hour’s drive away. We’d have to go home in the worst case scenario. Or is that the best case scenario? I hung a large wooden sign made just the night before of pine and poplar so no one would miss BOXLAND; The place where all dreams of boxes come true.
The countdown began… ten minutes to go… five…..Showtime! Boxguy opted for a craftsman swivel stool and I parked in a big lawn chair, ready to spring up to answer questions and accept payment. And here came the shoppers. Not in a surge, but a steady trickle. They entered the tent and had nothing but compliments for our boxes. We both answered questions when needed, and Boxguy taught dozens of shoppers everything they ever wanted to know about box building. We weren’t selling yet, just priming the pump.
Observation number one: Shoppers went to the table upon entering the tent. After perusing the Boxguy collection and getting a box building tutorial, they turned and looked at my boxes on the shelves. A few compliments would be uttered and they would leave to repeat the scene in the gourd booth next door. It would appear that the table was a better way to feature the boxes. They could be opened easily without worrying about the upper shelves. The lighting seemed better, and Boxguy’s boxes with stained glass attracted browsers like lamps attract stinkbugs. Still though, no sales. A few hours passed and finally a serious buyer emerged holding a box from Boxguy’s table. Finally! Not one of his though, it was from the Boxguy student that loaned us the tent. What? Yep, he had sent a few pencil boxes for BG to try to sell. They were the least expensive items in the tent, and like the first fish on a fishing trip, the first blood in Boxworld.
Seriously? Now this young man is not a novice boxbuilder. He is actually quite accomplished, and any of us would be proud to own one of his boxes. But… he wasn’t there. He was somewhere else. And that was that. The day went on pretty much the same. The high point for me was a great bratwurst and a nice cheeseburger. About two hours before closing time some friends of Boxguy came in. Church friends. Repeat customers. Boxguy boxes are like Lay’s potato chips. You can’t have just one. They left with a nice BG box.
So the score for day one was in the books. Boxguy 1, Kid not in attendance 1, and me 0. I saw lots of old friends, ate some good food, and accepted lots of what appeared to be sincere compliments. Not a bad day at all, unless you’re talking about sales. OK. What to do for day 2? Build a table tonight? Burn the shelves? Join the Army?
No. No. and No. What I will do is take about half of my boxes home. I’ll display fewer boxes and feature my cheaper ones. I will take some good snacks and be sure to have some cash for a nice lunch. I don’t think I am cut out for sitting at art shows all day. I am not giving up yet, but will reevaluate after tomorrow. Who knows, maybe I will sell out by noon? I’ll let you know.
Oh yeah, both of our wives helped. They loaded and unloaded. Schmoozed the patrons, and generally boosted the morale of the troops in what was a slow day at Boxland.
-- Jerry... making sawdust in the Knobs of Southern Indiana