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What is your take on this? The One of a Kind Show NYC will be held November 11-14 and November 18-21 at the Merchandise Mart Building at 7 West 34th Street. The booth fee is $2500 per weekend or $4500 for both weekends.

This is the second year for the OOAK show in NYC. Last year it was held at Pier 94. It seems that the low attendance and the location have caused the Merchandise Mart organization to move the show to what is a more central location. The organization owns the building in which the event will be held. The show will be on the 11th floor. How are 75-100 artists going to get their booths and inventory up and down in the elevator, especially during the week when the elevator will also be accessing the show rooms on the other floors? Now, I'm thinking about everyone trying to leave at once on Sunday night! Not a pretty picture.

Last fall's show didn't get the best of reviews:
  • The quality of exhibitors' work was very uneven. I felt quite discouraged setting up on Wednesday & discovering this much hyped show had so much shlock work in it. My NYC artist friends who came to the show to see me & check if they would want to do this show in 2010 were also quite dismayed.
  • I had high hopes for this OOAKNY show, put together an eye catching booth, & exhibited top quality work at reasonable price points. In spite of my best efforts, this show was a big disappointment.
  • The venue was of a very shabby quality for the hype of the show, and somehow the word did not get out to the people who should have been there. NY is a world unto itself, I am glad I participated in the show so I could get an experience of the NY buyer, but am unsure, until I hear what changes will be made in the production, to commit to a second year at this show.
  • It was a lovely city and a wonderful time personally but very difficult to accept more than $10,000 being spent along with a lot of logistics planned as well as personal time utilized for a return of under $2000 in sales. Being a smaller company it is really difficult to absorb this or take those sorts of risks again next year. I feel I understand and accept responsibility for taking the risk of being part of a new show and in a new market.
  • I heard from some customers that they were disappointed in the exhibits and said that my work, original paintings were one of the few "one of a kind" items exhibited, which was true. There were mass produced items galore.There was the feeling that NYC OOAK was accepting any exhibitors to fill the Pier. That was very evident.
  • Because of their excellent reputation in Chicago and Toronto, I expected it to be a grand show. Probably not enough advertising to the RIGHT, art savvy, potential customers, because those who did come were not fine art and fine craft buyers... in fact, their only interest was in items under $100...My corner booth cost $2,800 + $800 for electricity and during the four-day show, I made 3 sales totalling $345. I generally make a minimum of 2K per show. I am reeling from the loss.
The above quotes are from Larry Hornung's Craft Show News.

This year the event will be held in their own building. You do the math $2500 times 75 = $187,500, times two weekends, $300,000 to $400,000. Is this organization going to be able to bring in the customers the artists need to this commercial building? There is no doubt that NYC is the place where people go to buy art -- New York can support a strong art show. Is this the one? I'd love your feedback.

Views: 847

Comment by Michelle Sholund on April 28, 2010 at 7:26am
I am stunned reading this. First of all the sticker shock of $2,500 + for a booth is way beyond my comfort spending zone for a booth. I only know of 2 artists in New York City and I can't see them doing the show too. However after reading that people would have to say, even though the fee is not good, setup on the 11th floor is another thing that boggles my mind! A big no no. The issue it seems is they are NOT accessible - having the show at one location, then move it to another and hmmm - let's have it on the 11th floor. I see exhibitors having huge frustrations with this and not to mention the patrons - imagine buying something then having to carry it to your car- where ever that might be... If it was a first time show last year, I do expect low attendance, however if the money is designated to the right places - i.e. advertising - it shouldn't have been that poor of a turn out that all reported. All in all, I don't see where this could show could be a good idea.

Comment by Oscar Matos Linares on April 28, 2010 at 10:13am
2500 booth fee is bit high but it is New York. One of a Kind Chicago is 2000.00 and 1800.00 if you was part of 2009. If you have never done the show you will find out that the set up and break down are the easy and you just sit wait for them to pick up and load or unload your vehicle.

The move should help the traffic and sales. It is November and way before Xmas. I will give another year before this show start showing up.

Me I do not know if I will do the show yet. I know the girls that help the artist Kim, Hanana etc they really do a great job and always try do better. They understand that the show depends on us.
Comment by sandhi schimmel gold on April 28, 2010 at 10:56am
Art Expo is even more! I have heard from artists showing in Chicago that lower priced items sell well.
Comment by Barry Bernstein on April 28, 2010 at 8:21pm
"Because of their excellent reputation in Chicago and Toronto, I expected it to be a grand show. Probably not enough advertising to the RIGHT, art savvy, potential customers, because those who did come were not fine art and fine craft buyers... in fact, their only interest was in items under $100...My corner booth cost $2,800 + $800 for electricity and during the four-day show, I made 3 sales totalling $345. I generally make a minimum of 2K per show. I am reeling from the loss."

Let me point something out for you sports fans: Just because it says "One of a Kind," there is no guarantee that the art work will be "OOAK." Plus, it's New York. There are events all the time in the city, and, from my experience, New Yorkers want to see you more than once before they shell out their money. So, even if you are a phenomenal artist, showing for the first time in NY at a first time show is an extremely risky deal.

This artist said he "made" $345. I hate when artists use that term. Actually, this person "grossed" $345. Their booth fee was $2800 + $800 for electricity. Parking was probably $200, hotel $600, gas to get to the show and back $300, $100 for food. I'm sure I am leaving out plenty of other expenses so I will round this out to $5000. If it cost this person $172.50 to create the $345 worth of artwork that they sold, by my estimation, they "made" -$4837.50.

If I lost almost $5000 at a show, I would be looking into becoming a greeter at Walmart.

To be honest, I've never done a Richard Rothbard show. So, I can't specifically speak to any one show. However, I've known Richard for 30 years. He's done shows as an artist, has 4 extremely successful galleries and has promoted his own shows for over 30 years. I believe he has artists welfare in mind. I have sold my pottery to him for his galleries and I've had many conversations with him over the years. If I was going to do a show in NY, I would consider, first and foremost, Richard's American Crafts Show. As a lifelong New Yorker, he knows what he is doing and if anyone in going to attract the high end buyer, it would be this show.
Comment by Walt Bennett on April 30, 2010 at 6:40am
IMHO, anyone wanting to do ANY show at the $1,000 cost level had better be looking more for exposure and resume text than actual sales. Doesn't matter what the booth fee is, there's never any guarantee that the buyers will actually buy and the higher the cost, the higher the risk of not covering it. We've had better net profits from $100 - $300 range shows than anything else in over eight years. We still do higher priced ones, especially if they're well managed or if they make a vacation trip tax deductible.

I'm setting up this afternoon for an outdoor one day, $800 event that only my wife will be selling at, but we're 95 percent certain we'll do very well and it's only about ten miles from our home. If rain were forecast, we'd still be there for the exposure, but probably would loose at least the cost (it's the Virginia Gold Cup and she makes ladies hats). Up until this year, we'd been told they had an exclusive with a factory hat reseller, but their policy has changed, but that's another story.
Comment by Barry Bernstein on April 30, 2010 at 12:55pm
Here's a question for you all: Is it better to do a retail show where you gross $8000, but, your expenses are $3000 or a show where you gross $4000, and your expenses are $1000?

The answer is: It's exactly the same.

Why? Your gross profit(expenses, cost of production, etc. before taxes) is actually the same at both shows.

We've already established that expenses at the more expensive show was $3000 and your gross sales were $8000, leaving $5000. To determine profit you still have to subtract how much it costs to produce the work that was sold. With jewelers, most of the cost is in materials. With potters most of the cost is in labor although you still have clay and glaze costs and firing costs(gas or whatever) plus labor. So, if it costs you $4000 to make $8000 worth of product, your gross profit is $1000 at the "better" show. If your gross sales were $4000 and your expenses were $1000, that leaves you with $3000. At the same rate, it costs you $2000 to produce $4000 worth of product, once again, leaving you with $1000 gross profit.

Considering, that in most cases, the less expensive show is less days, has an easier setup, and has less competition giving you a greater chance of winning an award, it may be a better decision to do the smaller show.

Just a thought!!
Comment by Andy Will on May 1, 2010 at 4:31am
If I were a New York Artist I would be gathering my friends and setting up an informal show between the two shows. New York Courts have held that artist may sell on public sidewalks parks etc , no permits, no fees, very few restrictions as to where they set up.

Maybe I am to much of a rebel , but it's worth a shot if you don't have another show that week
Comment by Connie Mettler on May 1, 2010 at 10:21am
Excellent thinking, Barry. It is readily apparent that you are not a newbie.
Comment by Oscar Matos Linares on May 1, 2010 at 12:17pm
Barry, I think that I still will go with the more expensive one. I always pick up a higher end show because to odds of success are higher. Doing art shows is about the odds and that is what make you decide what show you choose to apply and hope that you get in.
Comment by Andy Will on May 1, 2010 at 12:54pm
I agree Barry, and there is one other factor, return on investment is better on the smaller show in your two hypothetical shows. The money does come from somewhere and there is a cost to money. And the risk factor is higher on the show with the bigger investment.


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