Possible show theory

Hi Friends I have a possible theory that I am forming about shows in college towns. I have done 3 this year and am in the middle of the fourth right now. What I am consistently seeing is that they underperform in terms of sales. As of today, I have been lucky to cover costs only. Many of my neighbors have not. If there is any profit for this show it will have to come tomorrow. The last 3 shows I have done this year in college towns have been: one zero, one where I didn't make costs and one that was mildly profitable. What have your experiences been? Is this a trend everywhere?

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  • We have a few towns in my state that are heavily laden with boarding schools and perhaps a university campus - the students don't buy, their parents MIGHT, the locals are more likely to - if it isn't held on school grounds.  I haven't found the returns to be fantastic, but they're sufficient to keep my hopes up for next time! (I'll learn one day and stop LOL)

  • We don't do college shows anymore with our price points. UDistrict in Seattle, tried for a few years, consistently one of our lowest return shows with way too many "hijinks" including breaking into booths that made us take it off the list.  Other college towns in ID, during the school year, not a good return. 

    One anomoly, art show held during summer on a college campus, but in a tourist town (Couer d'Alene ID).  Great results, too bad we weren't accepted this year after 3 good shows in a row.

  • I do a Nov. show in a university town - Princeton NJ - and the target audience is definitely not the students, although they may turn out for it. It was a very good show for me last year, but the locals and supporters of the YWCA are who is purchasing. Also, it is a long standing show, so they do have a loyal following. That and the fact that is is a fairly wealthy area make it a show that I will continue to apply to.

  • I recently did shows in Stillwater, OK (OSU) and Lubbock, TX (Texas Tech). I did well in Lubbock, it was my first time there. Stillwater was just OK this year. It was my second time there; I did better last year. Both shows were profitable, and if my schedule works out the same way next year, I would do both again. I did both of these on the way to Oklahoma City.

    I usually don't travel just to do a show in a college town, but I usually find them profitable enough to do them as part of a tour with bigger shows.

  • The East Lansing, MI, Art fair has a good mix from the town, the state government employees and the university people. Madison (WI) Fair on the Square is very highly beloved by many artists and a coveted show. A sweet small show is held in Lafayette, IN, near Purdue. Columbus (OH) - here we go with state government, huge university, good businesses, etc., also works well. College/university towns can be just fine. I think it has to do more with the sophistication of the town and its culture.

    • That is a good point, Connie. Sophistication matters, as does other business/government jobs in the area.
  • I have done Golden, CO for several years. Colorado School of Mines is there and show coincides with kids arriving for fall classes. Golden is also home of Coors Brewery and several craft brewers. Sales there have been great and on an increasing curve. Several clients are faculty. Grand Junction, CO is also a college town. 2012 was first year I did show and sales were great (great meaning exceeding minimum of $2K to return). Sales were down a little this year but I plan to go back. Reviews have been written for both of these shows. At least out here in the west, an academic institution is a plus. I get students buying belts for everyday and field work. Denver is a big university town but I don't think it is a factor as there is too much else affecting shows there. Can't comment on shows in Boulder but it is also a university town with art shows that have had good reviews. Locals refer to it as "the People's Republic of Boulder" as they are different up there- very very liberal.
  • Makes sense, Larry!!
    I am going to apply to the state college show next year, I keep hearing good things about it.
  • Hi Elle,

    The determining factor is whether there is another target audience besides students.

    State College (home of Penn State) Pa is probably the top show in the country in a college city. But visiting alumni and locals purchase, not the students.

    So if you are doing a show in a small college town, the chances of the locals supporting the show is smaller than in a bigger college town.

    Larry Berman

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