This past weekend I participated in the Brockport Arts Festival! It was my third year being a vendor at this show.
I didn’t know how to mentally prepare for the festival this year, partly because I haven’t really worked on my art business lately, but mostly because I was so uncertain about how it was going to go because this show was going to be so different: I wasn’t bringing my jewelry, which is hands down my top seller. Instead, I was bringing only originals and prints. I’ve only ever sold a few prints at any festival, even the two day ones. I was taking a big risk, and with this being one of the more expensive shows that I do, I was really nervous that it was going to be a big flop.
Little did I know how unprepared for the weekend I actually was…
Almost three weeks ago I participated in the Gaslight Holiday Celebration for the third time. This is such a special show for me: it’s right here where we live, our local library puts it on (and as I’m on the board, I get to help plan and prepare), and it marks the anniversary of my first show.
As much as I love this show (it’s my favorite one I do!), I was feeling a little let down at the end of the day. Part of that could have been that it was a very rough morning even before getting to the show, but it just felt different this year. I thought crowds were down (but I’m one of the only people who felt that way, so who knows?), and out of the three years I’ve participated, this was the lowest sales I’d ever had.
However, there were a lot of wonderful stories, and a lot of things were different after this show:
Last weekend I participated in a one day craft show in Ontario, NY. It’s a little farther away than I normally like to do for shows; my parents haven’t been able to make it to any show or festival that I’ve done, and as it was only 20 minutes from where they live, I signed right up!
I have very mixed feelings looking back on the show. I absolutely loved how the event coordinator let all of the crafters and vendors know all of the information in a timely manner, kept us aware of any changes, and responded to all messages quickly. I went into the show knowing exactly where my table space was, what times everything was, and was left with very little surprises during the day.
I was really nervous about doing this festival. It was the most expensive festival I’ve done, a lot of vendor acquaintances don’t do this festival anymore due to bad sales, and I just didn’t feel mentally prepared for it.
Saturday morning started off really rough, which just made everything feel so much worse. Thankfully we set my tent, tables, and trellises up Friday night, so I just had to set everything else myself that morning. It wasn’t until I was about half finished that I realized that I forgot things at home, so had to just throw everything in the tent, zip it up, and rush home.
Thankfully we live 5 minutes away, right? 😉
Running home also meant I got to see my kids quickly and get more views of this gorgeous sunrise (aka painting inspiration):
Once I was back and all set up, things went fairly smoothly Saturday. There were times I was swamped, and there were times it was pretty quiet. It ended up being the best day I’ve ever had for a festival, and after my rough week and start to the day, it was really encouraging.
Sunday was a bit slower; there were quiet and swamped times as well, but the crowds seemed to mostly want to just walk the grounds, get food (oh man, the smells were AMAZING), and enjoy the music.
The weather. Seriously. We could not have had better fall weather! Bright sunshine, slight breeze, and cool temperatures? Perfection.
Visitors! Getting to see friends from the community I hadn’t seen in awhile (my kids just switched to another district, and we don’t get to see a lot of our friends here anymore), a friend from college came to check out the festival, repeat customers came to say hi, and my aunt and uncle happened to be in the area for another event so stopped by to see me!
Cute little helpers!!!! My youngest came and helped for a bit while the other two kids and the hubby walked the festival, then my daughter helped my close out the day Saturday. My super cute niece also kept my chair warm while her mom and dad watched my booth so I could have a quick break.
Fun shoppers who take their time making decisions. I had one customer take a while deciding which of the Harry Potter inspired necklaces she wanted. She chose the Hufflepuff one at first, but then realized she was a Ravenclaw so went back to look at those necklaces. That brought about another round of which one to get!
Later when my youngest was helping, I had a customer who couldn’t decide which pair of earrings to get. Her husband and I both suggested the purple ones, but eventually she chose multi colored ones. She ended up coming back right before closing and exchanged them for the purple ones we recommended she get! But what makes it even funnier, is that she came back Sunday and brought her mom to my booth. Her mom ended up buying the multi colored ones that her daughter originally bought Saturday!
Excitement over Boathouse. My supervisor from the campus library I worked at during college bought a copy of each for her as well as to donate to the campus library, and a teacher at the school my kids used to attend came and got them for her granddaughters.
I also had THREE people request that some of the illustrations become prints!!!!
There was also a little boy who stopped outside of my booth and got so excited about the Boathouse books I had on display! He was talking about all the things Boathouse does in the stories, and that his teacher read them in his class, and how he really likes them!
Meeting other artists. I had an artist come in who just happened to be there with his wife, and we talked for a bit Saturday morning about programs and processes, and then Sunday morning another oil painter who was a vendor on the other side of the festival stopped in and we talked about processes and our love of the color blue.
One of my originals is THE wish list for Christmas! A woman came to my booth and fell in love withMiddlebury Sky. She grew up here, and misses the clouds. She lives in Philly and happened to be in the area for the festival, and now she’s going home to tell her husband that what she wants for Christmas is this painting!
My neighboring vendors weren’t super friendly. Maybe I was just spoiled at Brockport…okay, I probably was spoiled there by making two great connections with other vendors, and that’s ruined me for all festivals. They weren’t awful at AppleUmpkin, but just pretty much kept to themselves.
Dew. We had a lot of moisture Sunday morning on our booths, and thankfully it stayed outside my booth rather than come in and make a mess. This was the only damage I had, and it only happened because the breeze would blow the side of my tent right into the price tag. No big deal, my tent just dripped onto customers for the first couple hours as they entered and exited the booth.
Being away from home. Not being home for two weekends in a row was really hard on my family. Both weekends were really important and amazing, but we’re really looking forward to me being home this upcoming weekend.
Panic. Okay, so this is really a good problem to have, but I hate feeling unprepared. I almost sold out of a few different styles of my jewelry, and only had one jewelry gift box left! I had tissue paper as a back up, but still, too close for comfort!
All in all, it was a great weekend, and I could see myself doing this festival again. I’m glad I did it, and it was by far the best festival/craft show I’ve ever had. I haven’t signed up for next year yet as I’m considering changing the direction my booth takes in terms of which products I’ll have available, and I want to know exactly what that direction is before I apply. But in the meantime, it’s time to work on Boathouse 3 and get ready for the next craft show I’m doing in November! Woo hoo!!!!
While this is my first time participating in this festival, Brockport was my home for four years while I was in college. It is where I met and fell in love with my husband, fell back into love with art, and where two of my three kids have been born. A lot has changed in the ten years since we’ve graduated, but I still feel at home there.
Day 1 of the festival was Saturday. Our original plan was to set up the booth and tables Friday night and do a picnic dinner on the college campus, allowing us to give the kids a tour of where Pete and I met, had classes, and hung out. However, I was going to be in the business district, so set up didn’t start until 6 am Saturday. The kids ended up staying the night at their grandparents, Pete and I got up around 4:30, and we were at my spot setting up a little after 6. When the festival is 10am to 6pm, that makes for a loooong day.
I have soooooo many stories to share, so I had to break it up into a blog post for each day of the festival.
You may have seen in my AppleUmpkin post that I made some new updates to my booth displays. The displays that I had weren’t quite working for me, and I knew that I was going to need more and better displays for new products.
After browsing Pinterest, I really didn’t have any ideas on what I wanted for my note cards and new earring style. I found displays I liked, but I didn’t want to spend a ton of money if I wasn’t sure I knew that was going to be the display I’d use for a really long time.
I started to stress about the festival, and I was running out of time.
There was a day about a week before the festival that I was taking a van load of donations to a local second hand store, and at the bottom of my pile was a cardboard box full of wooden boxes. The boxes had been given to me years ago, full of art supplies. The boxes didn’t quite work for me for storage purposes, but I loved them too much to get rid of them.
So in my basement they sat.
Last year I decided I should get rid of them, but I could never quite bring myself to actually take them out of the house.
And I’m so glad I didn’t!
They have dividers in the bottom half and a hinged lid, and are super sturdy. After some playing around, I figured out how to turn them into my displays!
I took two boxes and removed the hinges and hardware, then painted them black. The bottom halves became note card displays; I used to have them displayed in baskets, but you couldn’t see what styles were in the baskets, and this allows shoppers to see what styles are available at a glance.
The tops I took and hinged together. Once put on it’s side, I attached some ribbon for hanging the earrings on.
One box I left the top and bottom together, but removed the handle and latches. After painting it black, it became the display for some of my Christmas items!
I didn’t take one of the box bottoms to the festival; it was supposed to hold my Christmas cards to sell. Yet again, the Note Card Gremlins attacked. Before one of the last festivals I did, all of the settings for the printer got messed up and note cards wouldn’t print properly. This time, my blank note cards disappeared, so I had to reorder new ones. After they arrived, my printer would print about 3/4 of the note card beautifully, but for the last couple of inches, the note card would get pushed crooked and print incorrectly. My tech guy (aka my husband) will be checking the printer and trying to remove the Gremlins from it soon, so I hope to have Christmas cards available soon.
The AppleUmpkin Festival in Wyoming, NY was this past weekend, and I had the opportunity to set my booth up on a friend’s front yard and participate!
The weather was absolutely perfect. One day of the festival is usually too hot or rainy, but we lucked out and had two absolutely gorgeous days.
I wasn’t sure what to expect with this festival; I hadn’t done a two day festival before, so trying to figure out how much inventory to have was problematic, as well as wondering how my stamina would be. I had a bit of a cold, and I’m usually exhausted after just a one day show. We were also at the very edge of the festival, and not everyone who attended the festival would enter from our side. We were also on the opposite side of the road, so only a fraction of the fraction of people who would attend the show would actually come see where we were set up. Pete also was unable to help me this weekend run the booth, so I was alone all weekend. However, there were three of us selling our wares at this house, so someone was always available to watch my booth when I needed to step away.
I’m really happy with how well the show went, and could write all day about all the fun things that happened over the weekend.
My favorite stories from the weekend are:
Being asked to inscribe and autograph a print
A customer searching me out because she saw my AppleUmpkin Festival Facebook event (that went viral locally!) and wanted to see what I was about
A customer coming to my booth, recognizing my work from a previous event, and then telling me she wants to see me everywhere next year because she thinks my work is amazing
Friends, family and repeat customers coming by to support me, either by visiting or making purchases
People coming in Sunday (when it was really really slow) because they wanted to make sure I didn’t feel left out, and then making purchases because they fell in love with my work. One woman only came in because she was concerned no one saw me because I was behind a tree!
Hearing stories of people buying my jewelry and not being able to wait to put it on (or even putting it on in the booth after purchasing it!) and hanging up art as soon as it gets home ❤
New changes and additions to the booth:
The new style of earrings debuted, and they were a huge hit! I think I sold fourteen pairs!
New displays for jewelry, note cards, and the Christmas items. This made it so much easier for people to find exactly what design they were looking for.
Another table! I ended up ordering a table identical to what I already had. All the longer tables I found either didn’t fold or didn’t change heights, and I like having the higher tables. Even with the extra table, I was still cramped for space, and I wasn’t able to have all the products I intended to have.
Things I want to change:
Possibly get yet another table. The corner with the prints was a little cramped, and once Boathouse Mouse books are out, I’ll have those as well.
Maybe work on layout a little bit more. If people came from the left side, they only saw the originals and walked past. People walking from the right side saw all the jewelry and prints and were more apt to stop because they saw smaller items.
New ideas for products:
I always get feedback about new products that people would like to see. I got two great ones this weekend, and I’m definitely going to be looking into them:
Non-holiday gift tags. Gifts are given for more than just Christmas, so ones for birthdays would be a great thing to have. The woman who suggested that actually came back and asked me to make apple gift tags for teacher gifts, so those will be coming soon!
Adding an optional non-porous backing to my necklaces. I was really confused when this was first mentioned to me, but this would allow them to be wearable essential oil diffusers! I think it’s a great idea, and as we love essential oils in my family and I know they’re popular with a lot of people right now, I think it’s definitely something to look into.
This was my last outdoor show for the season, and only have one more indoor show scheduled. Thank you all for your support this year; we can’t wait to see what next year brings!
This past Saturday my husband and I set up my booth at the Perry Chalk Art Festival!
The day started out a little rough; we were a little tired starting the day due to waiting on news if our new niece or nephew had been born (it’s a nephew!!!), and we’re not very familiar with Perry, so finding exactly where we were supposed to go was a little challenging, especially as roads were blocked off for the festival.
Once we got to our spot, we were really happy with our location. We were the second booth in on a side street, so we were very visible from the main street of the festival.
The only hiccup of the day was right away during set up: my tent wouldn’t work! We were trying to expand it and get the canopy up, but it kept collapsing on itself. I have to admit, I was a little panicky as if I didn’t have a tent, I didn’t have a way to display more than half of my products as they hang from the tent walls. After a couple minutes of struggling, I crawled under the tent to find out that the center post had come unhooked, and it was a super quick and easy fix!
We were supposed to be set up by 8:30, and with not getting our space assignment right away, trying to maneuver down closed roads for the festival and other vehicles and tent issues, I was really happy that we were up and running by 8:40!
Changes to the booth:
We had to make a couple modifications to the booth as we were on pavement, so stakes were not an option for securing items. I did some research and found a better way to attach our tent weights, and we were so pleased with the way they worked that we’re going to keep securing them that way, even when we get to use the stakes. We normally anchor our tables for security as well, but the pavement was pretty level, so the tables weren’t as wobbly as they are on grass. The jewelry displays also get anchored into the ground, but I just took the bottoms of the chains, wrapped them around a dowel and put a cinder block on the dowel to keep the displays from bouncing around, and it worked beautifully!
We also chose to not put the back booth wall up. We didn’t really need it for wind, rain or sun protection, and that allowed us freedom to get in and out from the back of the booth and use the sidewalk for extra space for our bags and things.
I also changed the print display. I love my risers that I’ve used previously, but it’s so big and bulky, and the prints don’t stand up too well if it’s breezy or another print gets bumped. I’ve been buying out Wal-Mart’s black inclined office folder organizers every time I go, and they worked out so well! Each print design gets it’s own organizer, and I couldn’t be happier with how they turned out. At some point I’d like something a little more professional looking, but so far they’re perfect. I’m going to have to get more for AppleUmpkin as I’ll have more print designs ready by then!
Other little changes included new business cards (aren’t they pretty? I didn’t think they’d arrive in time, but they did! Yay!) and the giveaway sign standing upright to be seen from the road.
Highlights of the day:
– Getting to meet a lot of new people and have previous customers stop by to say hi!
– Almost selling out of necklaces! That was a little scary as I didn’t want to fully run out, but was super excited that they were popular 🙂
– Great neighbors. We were situated between Screaming Fox Pottery and a travel agent. Both were super nice, and we spent time getting to know the couple who were selling the pottery (and also got a couple little pots for our succulents in our bathroom!). Being next to travel agent was a little dangerous as they had a Universal Studios display up, and we’re taking the kids in 2017. We picked up papers to help plan, but it was really hard to not book the trip!
– Good sales! People took advantage of the jewelry sale I had going on, and I plan on having sales again for the next show.
– The weather was amazing! Sunny, warm, and a little breeze? Perfection.
– People taking my card for commissions or to shop online!
– Square! I’m so glad that I have the ability to take credit cards; I would have lost out on most of my sales if I hadn’t been accepting credit cards. I also got a great review by one of my customers after the show, so thank you to whoever wrote that! It made my day 🙂
– Being able to get out of the booth for a bit and see the chalk drawings! It makes me wish I could do chalk; I end up making more of a mess than I do a drawing. These were my favorites:
Hard parts of the day:
– This show was longer than other ones I’ve done, so by the end of the day, we were exhausted and couldn’t wait to get home to the kids.
– The breeze was a little strong at times. We had no issues with the tent moving, but some of our signs decided they wanted to fly off the tables or into the road.
– My cell phone dying towards the end of the show. I accept my credit cards on my phone, and as most of my sales were by credit card, I needed it up and running. Thankfully we had our tablet, so my husband scrambled to get Square installed and up and running on it before our phones died and we lost the internet. He was awesome and it worked!
– This is a silly thing, but this mural on the building behind us was making me all twitchy. I told my husband multiple times that I just wanted to take it down and put up a new one!
Changes I want to make:
– Change my signs for products. They’re just folded pieces of paper right now, but I want to add a bottom to them so they’re like a triangle. That would allow me to put weights inside the sign to keep them from blowing around.
– New earring designs. A lot of people love the earrings, but didn’t buy as they’re afraid they’re not durable enough (which I understand!). I just ordered supplies for a new earring style yesterday, so hope to have a new watercolor earring line ready for Christmas!
– Get another table or a bigger table, or figure out how to fit more on each table and still have it look nice. I’m running out of room already on my tables, and I’m going to need space for Christmas items and Boathouse Mouse books in September at AppleUmpkin!
– Get chairs. We’ve been borrowing a couple taller kitchen chairs from our friends which work out great, but having our own would be nice as well. Maybe get padding for the chairs as well; sitting for hours gets really uncomfortable after awhile!
We’re already looking forward to doing next year’s festival, and have quite a bit of work and preparations before AppleUmpkin in September. That will be my first two day show, so I’m excited and nervous about that!
Have you ever been to the Perry Chalk Art Festival? What changes would you suggest for my booth?