We had high hopes for the Piccolo Spoleto Crafts Festival in Charleston, SC. It was a well-respected venue, the pre-show information was excellent, and we'd heard good things about the event. All of the elements for a good show were there: beautiful weather, a fairly easy load-in, friendly show staff and booth neighbors, and my work looked great. What wasn't there was the crowd. On Friday, usually a very slow day for any 3-day show, we sold nothing. That was a record I never thought I'd claim. Nothing sold. There were lots of positive comments (in fact, if I had a dollar for every time someone said "Oh, I love your colors!" I'd have just about enough for a tank of gas. Which, of course, was part of the problem. With gas prices just south of $4.00, and not by much, people are cutting back on non-essential items. And, art is usually one of those items. Unfortunate, but true.
Saturday was a bit better; there were more people, and we did make some sales. Sunday's attendance was the largest, and we sold two large pieces (ironically, I sold one of the bamboo bowl wall hangings to a couple who live about 10 minutes away from me here in Raleigh!), but after all was said and done, we did not cover our expenses. Very disappointing, to say the least.
Fellow artists said this year was exceptionally slow, and the crowd was down significantly from years past. Judging from the makeup of the crowd, it didn't seem to be filled with my typical customers. This is the chance you take when you venture into a new venue; as we always say, it's a crap shoot--and this time, we lost.
Anticipating this at the beginning of the year we cut back on the number of shows we'll do and we'll travel much less. I will use the time to investigate other ways of selling, and to develop new designs. It could be a blessing in disguise--I'm trying to think positively here; which isn't always easy to do after a disappointing show.
'Met some interesting artists at the show. In my next post, I'll show you some of their work.