Oaks, PA at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center (near King of Prussia area)
$645 10x10 booth plus extra $ for electricity. - I think my total booth fee came out to $715 when I added electricity., You could also get a double booth, or corner booth (and pay extra) and I think if you do several sugarloaf shows - or apply early - you can get reduced fees. I applied relatively late so paid full price for my space.
Medium: original paintings (contemporary animal art)
My price points: $150 to $3600 (though most works were $1250 and under).
Items sold: lowest price point was $200, highest was $1250
I decided to take a chance on this show as I live half an hour away, and I liked the fact it was indoors as the weather this year has been so dicey for outdoor shows (either brutally hot or super wet and windy). In fact there was a microburst / tornado warnings the friday of the show and some areas were hit with lots of downed trees and housing damage in Chester County (maybe 30 min from the venue) plus a lot of strong / heavy rain. However, the venue was fine, and being indoors, nobody had any issues with anything.
Super Easy! The expo center show was divided up into two sections and there were time load ins depending on which room you were in. If you came during the allotted load in time you could drive INTO the Expo Center and park next to your booth space, unload your car quickly, and then move your car to exhibitor parking (close by) and finish setting up. I had a relatively easy set up - just some panels, two clamp lights and my paintings. I had plenty of storage space behind my booth, though I did notice that I my space was SUPPOSED to be a 10 x 10 but it was narrower than that and I had to leave off one of my 9 panels in order to fit in the space properly., I ended up making my other 8 panels fit in the space but I think someone must have measured my space wrong (my neighbors spaces all seemed to be the correct size). I probably could have said something to somebody (they had an info booth on site with Sugarloaf people there to help with any questions) but I decided to just go with what I had as my wall panels are pretty flexible configuration wise, so I made up for lost wall space on one side but forming a kind of divider wall with one of the panels so I could use both sides.
Now, I noticed after I set up I probably had one of the more simpler / minimalist sets ups, and I also probably had one of the more higher price points at the show. There were a lot of crafters and gourmet food sellers (who seemed to do really well with sales from what I could see) and there were also some painters and sculptors but for the painters I think many of them focused on prints in the booths. I purposely did not do prints and focused on selling originals. SO I was sweating it a little to see if this strategy did well or not. I also marketed the show extensively on social media beforehand (including the shows own facebook event page (where there were only a handful of artists doing this, surprisingly) and also email blasts. In fact, someone from the organization came up to me after the show was over to tell me I had done a great job with marketing online and that I had done everything "right" with my show promotion from what they saw online.
The show itself charges people $10 at the door to come in (or $8 in advance) and they give exhibitors ten free passes to give out to your customers. I gave out seven of mine.
One thing to note was there were no booth sitters so as I was at the show by myself most of the weekend I just had my neighbor watch my booth as I took the occasional quick bathroom break (note to the wise - the bathrooms in exhibit hall A were nicer than in B) but you may want to plan on bringing a helper if you need one. They do have a concession area / food court area at the show if you are hungry, but I packed snacks for myself as I knew I was going to be by myself and didn't want to have to worry about trying to get food. I did do some coffee runs though because I am not a heathen ;)
Friday was a bit lighter (which I expected) and many of the people who showed up were either older / retirement age, with a rush hour around the lunch time from work age people stopping by on their (presumed) lunch break time. A lot of people were looking but had some sticker shock in my booth or else weren't looking at paintings at all. However, one person came by and bought a mid sized painting in the afternoon and so I had a good sale even it if was only one person. Visitors got very light after 3 PM.
Saturday was PACKED. PACKED! Huge streams of people coming by. I can't complain about lack of attendance. Again I sold lightly (two paintings) BUT since my price points were higher, I ended up reaching my minimum sales goal for the weekend with those three sales on Friday and Saturday .
Sunday was not as packed as Saturday but still we had a good amount of people. Things for me were very slow sales wise in the beginning. Some of the visitors were not very well educated and didn't seem to understand the difference between an original painting and a print. (others however did so I guess you deal with that lack of arts education at any show). Had no sales up until around 3 PM or so then sold one artwork (with the couple taking a card as they may want to buy a second painting that also caught their eye and I told them if they bought it before the end of the month I'd give them a little discount). Then about 15 min before the show closed, a lady came back and bought one of the larger artworks in my booth that she said she had seen Friday, and had been thinking about all weekend, and then came back for it as she had to have it. (and then when I got home I got a Facebook request from her and she wants to commission me for a painting). I have a phone meeting with her tomorrow to go over details. So I could very well have some extra sales after the fact from this show too.
All in all I had a great show - my best of the season actually. Some of my neighbors were not happy with sales - one in particular who looked like their booth was swamped all the time, said while they had sales, they were all the lower priced items (Items under $50) so there were not enough of the sales for them to do well. So I think with this show you either have to concentrate on selling A LOT of lower priced items or focus on the few more art educated / more well-heeled customers to buy the more expensive items. And then I guess there is luck too. Who knows. The show itself was well promoted by the Sugarloaf people.
LOAD OUT (controlled chaos)
For breakdown everyone carried or wheeled their stuff out the multiple exit points in the expo center to the parking lot (and some people had parked in the firelane while others (like myself) were parked fairly close by. I had a handtruck and did everything in four trips so I recommend having a hand truck or similar if you don't like having to walk everything to your car, which while not far away, was still not located next to your booth. But overall this was one of the easier set ups and break downs I've had.
Anyway, I would say that the show was well organized, and well attended and it's in a good area (Philly suburbs). It was good for me as I am fairly local to the area so I made a few contacts with local-ish people and I was also able to get people I know to come out as it was convenient to them. Another painter I know also did the show and she's been doing the show for years and says it's one of her favorites (I don't know how she did this particular year as I was located in another area from her). I know the show gives out show stat packages for each of their shows and when I originally researched them they had put down average sales for each category (painter, sculptor, ceramicist etc) and I had fit right in with the average for my category. So that may be something you want to look at if you research the show.
As for me, I will be doing their fall show again.
A couple of examples of my work (this fox and crow piece sold at the show)
yeah I agree. It's a money grab. I should also mention they charge for wifi use for the weekend ($35 for three days or you can pay by the day). Though my neighbor managed to hook onto some free wifi somewhere.
There's no reason to ever buy their wifi plan. You already are paying for a network and the data usage is minimal for taking credit cards. If there is a problem with that, for $5 more, if you are on Verizon, you can have unlimited data.
In an unrelated situation, there is a show that I am doing that charges a fee if you want to have an extra day to set up. I find that to be really petty.
Sometimes, in that expo center the cell signal, for DATA, is vey bad. That is why you might need an alternate WiFi connection. Sometimes that poor, cell phone DATA signal, is a deliberate result of blocking being inplemented. This forces users to pay for a work around.
BTW, if you re using Square, you can still ring up sales, withut a network connection. You will just be doing it in offline mode. Then it will work through "clearance" once you have a network connection again.
You may or maynot incur some extra charges, but it might be worth it.
I just signed up for the Fall Oaks show again and i should mention that they offer payment plans when you apply. You can either pay up front or you can put down a downpayment and then pay in installments with a due by date for the total payments before the show starts. I thought that was a really cool option.