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Wells and Hinsdale, contrast shows this past weekend. Who buys better, sober or drunk?

I just visited these two shows in Chicago this weekend as a spectator.

Wells was really crowded, loud music, beer and food stands everywhere, outdoor bars, people partying on their decks ,on the street, kind of fun if you are visiting, I actually enjoyed having a flashback of my single years but I don't know how fun it could be if you are exhibiting. I noticed a huge amount of prints and giclees at the Wells Street show, way too many, kind of flooded, some of them I wondered if that was their own work or they got it somewhere else?

I'm not talking about the real photographers, because I also saw real quality job, just wondering what was the percentage of originals VS giclees and prints...mmm

There was also beautiful jewelry, wood work and sculptures, and the artists showing original paintings had impressive work. I saw people buying a little of everything. I had to skip couple booths because crowds wouldn't let you go in, way too much people walking around. By 3:00 pm you were bumping against intoxicated fellows  and good thing I was wearing sweat pants because I got beer all over my clothes and I wasn't even drinking.

Then the contrast...Hinsdale. What a great place, set right by the train station, you feel you are in an old town with stunning homes . I loved the assortment of art. It was a calm show with beautiful work, nice families browsing the show, you could really focus on the art, no distractions, you could go in every booth and admire everything slowly. I got there kind of late so I don't even remember if there was food or beer vendors. Fewer people than Wells of course but you could see they were appreciating every booth. I don't remember seeing too many giclees or prints. Maybe couple photographers with great quality work but not flooded of prints. I saw people buying also, one person walked out with a huge piece of an original painting. I wonder if they buy more or less after having a few, who knows right? Could be a good thing, could be a bad thing or could be both. Who buys more from you? Sober or drunk? Do you have a better show in party ambiance shows or family oriented town shows?

Hope the artist that did these shows had great sales :)


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Years ago when I just created earrings, I sold very well. But, when the crowds were drunk, OMG, I couldn't run the cash register fast enough. Now that I am more well rounded in my jewelry, I sell better to sober crowds. About 3 or 4 years ago was my last 'party' show (the Neptune Festival in VA Bch), I had 7 customers lined up with necklaces in hand to buy--one of the volunteers at the show, came into my booth, told the customers that the show was closed, and that they had to leave (he said that it was time to go party). They put down the necklaces, and, all left the booth. Needless to say, I have never been back. That incident cost me $1323!! I do shows that offer wine & cheese, but not the beer fests anymore. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted.
One of the differences is the size of the crowds. I'd guess in one afternoon at Wells St. you'd see more people, at least walking by, than you'd see all weekend at Hinsdale, and the more you see, the more you would sell, but that may have something to with who is coming to look. Even if there was drinking at Hinsdale it still wouldn't translate into a beer drinking crowd. Then there is that other thing, Hinsdale, really easy to do, Wells St., a real challenge to get in, set up, and get out again, having nothing to do with the drinking. But, yes, I've found it easier to sell to a person who is drinking.

Wow Carla, your impression and mine were totally different about Wells Street.  After seeing the work at Old Town,  I was not impressed by what I saw at Wells Street.  We did skip the last two groups of booths because after walking Old Town and then walking to Wells and fighting our way through the crowds, we decided to leave.  

You are bringing up an interesting point.  We used to go to a fundraiser with a silent auction.  The bar was right as you entered and being the light drinker I am, I might have been slightly influenced by my gin and tonic to bid on the more esoteric items offered.  But, I do love my Juan Pierre autographed bat because I admire the way he plays baseball so it was a good purchase.  

I think if you are trying to build a clientele in a certain geographic area, you would want your buyers sober so they don't have any regrets the next day wondering what the heck it was that they bought and why.

 Geri! I couldn't even get to Old Town because it was way too crowded and I left my car parked at Dominicks. Another problem for the show! No parking. It took me 40 minutes to find a parking spot and I didn't so I had to park 4 blocks away at the grocery store parking lot. I am lucky they didn't tow my car.

I did that show 8 years ago. I had a great show but I had my best sales in the morning. I used to sell hand painted furniture and couple paintings. One woman bought a painting for me for 850.00. She made me go to her loft right on Wells, 2 blocks from my booth and looked at her walls during the show, then she made my husband carry the painting to her house and hang it. No problem...The problem was that she called me 2 weeks after and told me she wanted to return the painting. I don't remember what story she gave me. I told her I will bring the paiting to my next show and if it sold I will give her her money back. It sold for 950.00 so I actually made more. She was a very insecure lady so probably one of her friends told her she didn't like the painting and she called me to return it. Or maybe she was drunk when she bought it?? 

Thank you all for your comments :)

I did Wells Street a few years ago.  It was the only show I ever did that didn't need any artists to draw the crowds.  They could get by with just beer tents and the admission fee.  I will never go there again. My work and drinkers do not mix. I must remember Hinsdale for next year.  I did Old Town for about 10 years and got booted out for some reason.  I guess I'm not good enough.  Someone who does it regularly told me that the beer thing from Wells street has crept over to Old Town, too.
I haven't done any 'party' shows but have done some where there has been alcohol available - and yes, it loosens the purse strings a little more!
Regarding the "party shows", I've found that if it's a show primarily catering to wine drinkers, our sales are higher than average.  Beer drinkers, just the opposite.

Carla, Sorry I missed you! For many of the artists I was near, it was not a good show. Most of the guys around me did make their booth fee, but I didn't even come close. Had a great time hanging out with the other artists---but ultimately that's NOT what I'm there for. The heat was off-putting. Most folks were just out for a pleasant afternoon stroll-not to buy art. There were no beer tents, or drunks that I came in contact with at Hinsdale. Just wish more folks were serious about buying real art. Nice reviews from a non-participant point of view, thanks for writing it up!

I use to do Hinsdale ideally you want both> the problem with Hindsdale it was very hard to get in and when you get in nobody is at the show. I think in the three or four years that I did the show my guess was 1000 people walk the show but honest true it feels like 500 people walk the show. Then you start depending in that big sale. One sale even if 10,000 does not make worth coming back to show. What happen next time if that big does not happen.

You need to go where the odds are in favor. Even if is pain to do the show. If you ask me Old Town is first choice and then Wells, Hinsdale I really need to think about it.

What is with so many posts on last year's blogs?  I keep thinking I am experiencing deja vu and then I look at the dates and it last year's post.

From what I understand, Hinsdale does not draw a crowd so your chances of making a profit are slim.  This is a classic case of having all the right demographics and still having a show not worth doing.  

Based on what Oscar said, seems like these shows don't learn and as social media becomes even more prominent, these shows will have to step it up because more and more artists are learning which shows are worth doing.

I did Well Street a few years ago. NEVER AGAIN!! I was next to the kettle corn booth (food and art should NEVER be mixed together). Every time they poured oil in the hot kettle, the oil was atomized .... becoming airborn. My booth was coated with a film of oil after that weekend. When I returned home, I had to set up the tent and wash it with Spic 'n Span. I demanded a refund; they returned half of my booth fee. 

Additionally, beer was spilled on my tent after the show closed. Being positioned beside a restaurant/bar was not good. During the show, people congregated outside the bar, blocking entry to my booth. Live and learn as the saying goes. I LEARNED FAST THAT WEEKEND!!

By comparison, I LOVE the Old Town show. I've done it for the past two years. Sales were slow last year due to the cold, drizzly weather. But this year was great.

Wells Street is nothing more than a huge pick-up place. The girls all decked out, wearing stilettos on the sidewalks, a beer in one hand....a phone in the other..... I will never go back.Our sales were 25 % of last year.


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