If you jury into this show and are accepted, plan on bringing plenty inventory.
Melanie Rolfes has already written a thorough blog about the nuts and bolts about the show.
I will try to give unique insights:
- I have done this show three times in the last 10 years.
- It is not easy to get into. About spaces for 130 artists and almost 1500 apply.
- Des Moines is a prosperous town, lots of insurance and medical. Lots of young people with disposable income.
- They are mostly traditional and conservative in their purchases.
- Abstract does not do as well.
- Many artists with big prices on their work zeroed.
- I am a photographer and sell in the $30-$500 range. I did extremely well. Best three day show for me since 1999.
- This is a very treed town with great old neighborhoods and solid houses.
- Lots of new condos are going up downtown. Lots of new restaurants going up. I will tell you about them later.
- Patrons wait all year for this show. They show up well dressed and act very polite. They think highly of their show and appreciate your presence here. Here is a little point that illustrates that:
Not once, but twice I had a patron buy a $50 item and hand me $60. When I went t give them change they told me to keep it. They said,"You deserve it." I have never been tipped at a show before.
- I only had one person, the whole show, try to take pics with their smartphone, that is a rarity.
- They have lodging program where artists can stay in a patron's home.
- I have been lucky to stay at Dean and Diann Payton' house all three times. They sometimes house two couples in their upstairs bedroom. They are nicest people ever.
- When I walked the show I saw a lot of fresh new work, especially photographers.
- There were a lot of artists with big prices there, and most of them did not fare well.
- People were buying in the under $1000 range.
- I saw lots of packages in people's hands.
- They had a VIP tent right around the corner from my booth.
- Artists were allowed up to 10:30 am everyday to imbibe all the bloody Mary's they could drink. I imbibed every morn. Did not hurt my sales one bit.
This show is run by director Stephen King. He is on the top of his game. Every detail is taken care of. He is lucky to have a huge volunteer committee to draw on. Overall, this is a very mellow show to do.
Yes, not everybody makes money at Des Moines, but the majority does. Anyone who aspires to big sales should give this show at least one try.
OK here is a little Tequila Report.
Met up with old bud John Stillmunks and he took me to the Flying Mango restaurant. The smell of smoked brisket permeates the air. The taste of Templeton rye goes well with the deviled eggs appetizer. You must eat here at least once. Each morn I ate breakfest at the Waveland Cafe.
When you enter thru the front door, the decorated carpet proudly proclaims "Best home fries in the whole galaxy." They are.
For great southern cuisine (I know, in Des Moines, yes) go to Bubbas in downtown. Try the fried chicken or the ribs. They make a mean Manhatten also.
Well, I think I gave you enough info to try Des Moines.