Great Lakes Art Fair, April 6-7, 2019

The load in/out is pretty great. Drive directly into building and unload at, or very near, your spot. Load out was fine, just a lot of cars and obstacles to drive around as usual. The booth spaces have lots of storage behind them and power is included. $30 app fee and booth fees were $400 (single) $600 (double) $700 (triple) $50 (corner fee)

That said, it goes downhill from there. There were people selling gutters, windows, bathroom remodeling, AT&T cable, shoe insoles, dog food, cruises, and several buy/sell booths. And those booths were all mixed into the artist booths. Customers were even complaining to me about the aggressive gutter guys.

The show layout wasn't great either. Lots of mediums clumped together. There were four other photographers within a few booths of me. But at least I wasn't next to the gutter guy or the hammering blacksmith.

The building also kept getting really cold during certain parts of the day. Many people complained about that, but nothing really changed.

Sales were barely OK the first day, second day was a total zero. Of all the artists I talked to I think one was interested in coming back next year.

Most artists who'd been coming multiple years seemed to think the show had just been getting worse and worse the last 3-4 years. I heard lots of “never again” during load out. I live a mile away from the venue and I won’t be going back.

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  • My husband is a woodturner. He makes hand turned pens, bowls and peppermills. I'm not sure how the other "Wood" booths did. The painters around us all said they didn't do well. The Jewelry booths near us all had a steady stream of customers.
    • The one artist I talked to who did well was jewelry also.

  • This was the 2nd year that my husband and I did this show.  After reasonably good sales last year, even with an ice storm that weekend, we were looking forward to this show.  I have to agree that the amount of customers was down, it was the first nice weekend this Spring, so maybe everyone wanted to stay outdoors and enjoy the fresh air.  We can't control the weather and we can't control the attendance, so we work with what we get :)

    Anyways, we knew going into it that there were sponsor booths and live demonstrations and we were prepared for that.  In fact the amount of sponsor booths was significantly less than last year, so the Promoters did cut back on them.  I believe the sponsors have a deal with the building that they are allowed to participate.  Our sales were down from last year, but we did make well above our booth and travel fees including 2 nights of lodging and have several custom orders to make.  The booths around us, except for one photographer didn't fare as well.  There aren't many options for shows in the Midwest for at least another month so it was a win for us.

    • What's your medium?

  • I agree that this show has some major problems. I don’t mean any disrespect to the people who put in all the hard work to make thos show happen. But they are at fault for some major issues: having a blacksmith demonstrate in a small indoor space was a bad decision. Charging for parking and admission was also a bad decision. The show is too small to charge for those things and that alone completely ruins the turnout. The layout was atrocious. And finally the money they spent making fliers and mailing them out could have been spent on ads on imatagram and facebook or could have been spent hiring someone to run the social pages.
    • The parking thing was weird because the website for the show said free parking. There were other events going on at the complex and they were trying to charge for parking for the other events I guess.

      I live in Novi and the only marketing I ever saw for the show was the big sign on the side of Suburban Showplace. 

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