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We are successful at most of our shows.  We make elegant functional pottery.  Our experience at four day shows includes South University, which is one of the top Ann Arbor Shows MI; Arts, Beats and Eats in Royal Oak MI;  State College PA and Wyandotte MI as well as The Yellow Daisy Festival in GA.  All other of our 20 shows a year are either 2 or 3 days.  We have stopped doing the 4 day shows.  I can't speak to any other 4 day shows as these are and were the only ones we did. 

I have just learned from speaking to the promoter that  "Art in the Park" in Plymouth MI in July has applied to the city or wherever it is that they need permission to extend to be a 4 day show from their present 3 day status. 

Our experience has been that although some additional money is made, it doesn't work out in sales profit enough to counter the total  expenses for higher booth fees, hotel, gas and meals.  Equally significant - the time away from the studio producing our art is time and money lost.  We have done the numbers and it just isn't worth it. 

Please send your opinion if you agree with our experience or if your opinion is the same to  You can call or write. This Plymouth  MI show is already expensive in booth fees,  but it has been a good show mid July.   I hope you can exert an opinion to counter the promoter's enthusiasm for a 4 day show.  Also love to hear about other suggestions in July for 2 or 3 day shows. 

Donna and Greg

Pottery For Living

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The lost "time in the studio", I do not feel is applicable. We should have enough time during the rest of the year to build up our inventory. Unless we are doing shows every week of the year. 

As far as the extra time at the show being warranted, I find a significant amount of the cost / effort is acrued in travel to & from, setup & breakdown. Sorta of figured as costs of acquisition. Then the possibility of bad weather. If it rains on certain days we have another day to possibly recoup our loss.  Once that is calculated in, I'd rather have more open hours at the show than a shorter show. I'm already there, setup. I'd rather have plenty of open hours than race out of there to just setup elsewhere.

Thanks for answering Larry.  We artists are all different with varied needs.  The artists I've spoken to at shows that have changed from 3 to 4 days say they haven't seen bigger profits.  That's our experience too.The same people come out and have more options of when to show up.  Not sure what you make but because we sell a lot, it takes a lot of time to make more pots.  For us studio time is a factor.  Yup, there is a rain factor and maybe we've been lucky for 20 years but we usually haven't had rain all weekend.  Anyway thanks again for sharing your experience.  I appreciate the communication.

Donna, My "studio time" is a mixture. As my medium is photography, the world is the initial part of my studio. While I travel for shows, it affords me the opportunity to do some shooting. Yes, I need to return to home for my developing, printing etc. However While on the road I am able to do a lot of creating. I wonder if you can apply that in your field? Working on ideas, getting inspiration might be accomplished while in the travel mode?

Customers having " more options of when to show up" might be a good thing. A) assume it is you they want to buy from. B) now they have more chance to do so. If it rained one or two days, that longer show allows the same customer a chance to come out and buy from you, on the non-rain days.

I can understand you do a high volume. However, if you are doing 20 shows a year, than that leaves you 32 weeks a year with no shows. Wouldn't that be adequate for production?

I want to find your weatherman :-) How you can do 20 shows a year, for 20 years and usually not have rain all weekend?!? Send me your schedule, I want to follow your schedule and set up at the same shows. it would be a completely new experience for me to plan on no-rain for an entire show. If I setup in the Saharah would rain. Wasn't thes the first year, in many, that it did not rain at Ann Arbor?

Hi everyone,

Donna, I agree about extra costs being an issue.  Sometimes studio time is an issue for me (I make jewelry), but equally if not more important for me is the energy it takes to do a show.  3 day shows can be a bear for me, depending on the hours.  I've not done a 4 day show, but I know how much oomph it takes for me to do a 3 day show.  I'd be a basket case if I did a 4 day show!  Not sure I'd be safe to head home on the last day which might extend me to an extra day.  This getting older stuff is for the birds!!

At almost all of my "away" shows, I stay over an extra night. It takes me so long to breakdown and pack out, I just sleep over and start fresh the next day.

Also it alows me more time to explore the area I'm in.

Sometimes, I arrive a day early also. I'm not safe anytime I drive :-)

Yea I guess count me in there... I've have not done many 4 day shows but that's pretty much a week show when it's all said and done. Traveling back and forth is usually the majority of a day if not more.  It wouldn't be hard to imagine stringing together 4 day shows and just destroying yourself.

I've seen some artists with employees who do their selling and whatnot in the booth, but most of us do everything from driving to selling to teardown to getting home and making.

Honestly, I'd love to hear people that talk positively about a 4 day show... like, what's the benefit to a show patron? I imagine it extends either to a Monday or a Thursday, both of which cater to tourists, who... have nothing imminent to do lol.

Not neccesarily just tourists. What about people who do not work a 9-5 M-F, job? People with more available time and disposable income. This might include seniors, self employed, work from home, non-working spouses, executives and other professionals. Many people have off or do not have to go into the office on Thursdays or Fridays. I know of many nurses and others in the medical profession, who work 4 day shifts. Others who work shifts that give them off 5 days ina row every month.

So much work to do now that we just got back from an out of state show that I'm going to give a general reply that I hope covers all your input.  And I thank everyone who shared their experiences and thoughts.  Of course we've had rain but outside of Reston VA in 2017, we've not had shows where we lost the whole weekend or most of the weekend.  Either we're lucky or this is an advantage of getting older and forgetting stuff.  We make elegant very functional pottery and always have a double booth with an 8 hour set up and 3 hour breakdown.  Except for 2 local shows we always stay at the hotel usually 8-11 hours away from home the night we break down.  Our process is lengthy and  time home is barely enough to make all of our work.  We just came back from a highly rated show and I spoke to other artists who felt that extending a 3 day show to 4 days just meant that the city benefits more from hotel and restaurant attendance but it wasn't as beneficial to the artists.  There are so many ways to look at this.  As far as going to shows with bad weather, I decided this year that we will not go to shows that make me crazy with worry because of the seasonal risks of high wind in the mid west even though we've gotten into some prestigious shows there.  The angst is not worth it.  We did Ohio and Missouri last year - good shows, terrible wind even in the good locations.  Too many heart pounding moments.  Won't go back.  Wish we could do more local shows here in GA but not too many great ones.   

There is a formula one uses to determine whether to do a show, or run any business, that adds on hours. In this case it is a whole day. This comes straight from a 200 level college econ class. It's MC=MR. Or, marginal (additional) cost equals marginal (additional) revenue. Determine what the cost of that additional day and if you believe you will sell that amount, then you do the show.Your booth fee, gas, etc. is not a consideration because you would pay that even if the show was 3 days instead of 4. So, it would be the cost of another night in a hotel and food for the day. If you want to get picky, you could consider doubling that figure, meaning if it costs you another $150 dollars to stay another day, you need to do $300 in sales to do the show, assuming that your cost of production is half what you sell your work for. This is the simple way of looking at it.

The reason why you only use this break even point, is because the possibility of grossing more revenue makes it worth it. You have no control over your sales, in a sense, because you could get rained out, people may not show up, etc. It's about the upside. Now, if you did the show and zeroed on that extra day, you at least know what your loss will be. $150-$200 is not much of a loss considering what your upside could be.

Btw, I've always been curious as to what functional potters sell besides mugs and bowl. What do you sell? How many different items do you display?

If you are a potter that sells, I can vouch that every minute of studio time does matter. We work by the kiln load.
I fired my kiln Monday starting at 5 am. This is Tues and it won't be ready to open until after 2 a.m. Wed morning. I plan to be in my studio unloading at so that I can keep things going, as it was a bisque fire, so everything needs to be glazed, reloaded, and fired again, 11-12 hours, with another 36-40 hours for the kiln to cool.
This is typical. Even with working every day, there is a lot to do to restock.
If the show is thinking about adding another day, it seems like they may be searching for new ideas? 
 I would suggest to the promoter that "before they commit to 4 days, consider a half day. Some of the 3 day shows do it that way. Set up is in the morning/afternoon, then the show opens Fri. afternoon or evening. Some examples of shows that have this working for them are Cain Park in Cleveland, OH, and Craft Expo, Guildford, CT."

Setting up on downtown streets has to happen in the evening so the morning set up and half day won't work in this situation but it's an interesting option if it comes up again.  I know other shows that do the 1/2 day with a 2 and 1/2 day show.

Hi Barry,

I thought I answered you before but it's not showing up so I'll try again.  Thank you for your comments; they're really factual and easy. MC=MR.  Love it.  It is interesting to hear it from an economics class.  One other factor to consider besides this formula is where the show falls relative to a show before or after and if we need that extra day to travel 8-11 hours home, refire a kiln or something real  that doesn't necessarily fit into the formula.   As functional potters, we make about 26 items including platters, baking dishes, Olive oil bottles, yarn bowls, serving bowls, vases small & large, casseroles, Dip chiller/warmers and many others.  For the fun of it, you can see our website  Thanks again for responding.


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