Wednesday, May 02, 2007

To Fair or not to Fair...

That's the big question looming on my horizon today; to take a risk and do a few fairs (besides my stand-bys, the farmer's markets) or to play it safe and stay home and read.

I've done quite a few local fairs in my day; ranging from the blue haired grandma/ church basement events all the way to radical feminist, bitch slap you if you don't bitch slap me first events, I've done 'em all. Some have been surprisingly successful. Some have been dismal failures. Like the time that I took a risk on a new festival organized by a friend of mine - billed as the premier feminist event of the year, I thought it would be a cool opportunity. Disorganized was bad enough but I really didn't anticipate the lack of vendor concern that I would find. Here's the picture - I haul my stuff in (1 hour drive, one way), set up tables and jewelry displays and wait. And wait. No one showed up except the organizers. Ok, so they didn't do the advertising that they promised us they would. Things happen, especially during the first year of any event... Then,finally a few customers trickled in. Then - yes it gets better - he showed up. A guy with a tray of jewelry. He stood right in front of the few minglers/ customers that had showed up at my booth and every time, they picked up a piece of my jewelry, he asked them, 'how much is that one?". Then, because he was such a twat, uh, I mean competitive businessman, he offered one of his pieces for less 'because (you) really don't want to buy that,do you?', pointing at my piece. Ok, patience is a virtue. Took a deep breath and called one of the organizers over, pointing out that he wasn't a vendor and that he was actually scaring off the few customers that were there. Her response to me was 'well, what do you want me to do about it?'. Um, let's see... it's a closed event on private property - escort the dumbass off! I've paid for my booth; he hasn't paid you a thing. Think about it! After about an hour of this, I walked out.

Then there was the art fair that was really well organized and wonderful (profitable, too - some days). A 'shopper' decided that she was going to photograph all of the pieces of jewelry that she liked so she - get this - make them herself. She even had the nerve to hint that she might sell them, if they were nice enough. Yeah, some people were born with their heads firmly planted up their.... never mind. So with any fair, there's opportunity and there's risk. The trick is deciding which one will work for you as a vendor. It's all about fit. If the event fits your style, ethics and personality - then go for it. If it doesn't toss out the invitation and run away.

The reason that I'm so focused on this topic is that I'm debating joining up with Ravenswing this year. From the outside it looks good - the correspondence that I've had with their team has been polite, professional, personal (in a good way) and ...well, nice. I like nice. I thought that they were still doing monthly events so thought it best not to vend in the 'first one'. Then, I found out that it was a once-a-year thing. Hmmm that changes everything. I had planned on going as a shopper and feeling it out to see if it would a good fit and then (if it was) doing the next one, in June. Now, the decision is sort of 'do it (go on, you know you want to)' vs. 'danger, danger, run away' (actually, considering how nice they seem, I don't think that it would be that bad). I'm seriously considering setting up and taking the day as it comes. The problem is that I still have that little person sitting on my shoulder trying to talk me out of it. Once burned, twice shy, I suppose...

What about you? How do you choose events? How do you know if you'll 'fit' with the event? How do you know what merch. to bring? Have any of you been to this event (Ravenswing) before?
As my craft business has branched out away from just jewelry, it's becoming more of a thinking game when it comes to deciding what I should run up for an event. I'd love a little of your bloggi-goodness right about now - let me know how you figure this stuff out

You'll have my never-ending appreciation and affection, if you do ;)
As an added incentive, I bring you Pat

6 comments:

Sara said...

Even though I'm in the "dog business" I run into the same challenges about what shows to attend. When I first started the business 9 years ago, I thought dog shows would be a perfect fit....couldn't be more wrong! I stopped doing shows altogether for many years after attending one show where I only sold one bag of biscuits! I've gotten over my cold feet though, and if it seems like a good fit I go for it. Ravenswing sounds interesting...doesn't sound like a "traditional" type show. Hmmmm....I say, go for it!

Bumbershootska said...

It's funny - what you think will be a perfect fit turns out to be a total loss sometimes. I wish that there was some sort of questionnaire or guidebook that would help us to decide which ones to do, eh?
I'm still hearing the nay-saying voice but can't out my finger on why...it seems like a cool event
Maybe I'll go and shop there instead of vending

Sara said...

I think you better listen to your instinct...I always regret it when I ignore mine.

Bumbershootska said...

Exactly!!! I keep thinking 'yeah, but...' and trying to convince myself to do it. Learning to trust our instincts is a hard lesson to learn.
I'll still support them but by shopping, not selling ;)

Sara said...

Did you visit Ravenswing yesterday? I was planning to go but didn't make it into Ottawa

Bumbershootska said...

Nah, I couldn't leave Jack alone, even in the crate. He's totally lost.. Have you ever heard of a dog with agoraphobia? I think I've got one...
Our Pat was going over,though - I'll hear all about it on Tuesday :)