Just finished the Allied Arts show in Richland, WA. Richland is in SE Washington, one of 3 cities referred to as the "Tri-Cities", Richland, Pasco, Kennewick. It's an area that hasn't been hit real hard with the recession, the Hanford Nuclear Reactor is located here and provides steady jobs/incomes. However, layoffs had just been announced the week before the show and we were wondering how that might impact the show, I don't think it made a bit of difference in the buying habits. For us this was our best show of 2011 thus far, a great way to start our summer road trip with 4 shows in Eastern WA/ Northern ID.
This was our second year here and our sales were up 40% over last year, with many repeat customers from last year. We also had several that said they didn't remember us from last year, but were looking forward to seeing us again next year and we do hope to be back to this show. Most of the artists we know said they were having good to great shows, one painter said he was way down from prior years, a potter said it wasn't that great for him this year, but several other artists were indicating they were doing well, so once again, a bit mixed on sales, but definitely more positive reports from the artists I know than negative reports including a couple of artists who like us, were having their best show of the year so far. We saw a lot of packages being carried and the finance folks mentioned that they thought the overall commissions for the entire show were trending higher than last year when they came around Saturday to collect our tally sheet. Booth fee is $100 with a 16% commission with about 220 booths spread throughout the park.
The show takes place in Howard Amon park, on the Columbia River. It's a Friday/Saturday show with long hours. Friday was 9-9, Saturday 9-7. The show starts early due to the heat, this area of the state is notorious for being about the hottest area of the state in late July. This year we caught a break, like the rest of Washington State, temperatures have been cooler than usual and we did not have a triple digit day this year, YEAH!! I think that made a real difference in our sales on Saturday which were more than double the sales on Saturday for us last year. Temperatures on Friday hit the low 90’s, I think the high on Saturday was 95. The park has a lot of trees and most of the booths are arranged to take advantage of the shade. Each booth spot is 10x15 so for most of us setting up a 10x10 booth allowed plenty of room for storage and airflow between the booths. They layout is quite spreadout and one part of it was a little confusing to navigate. Due to all the trees, many of the booth do have issues with tree roots, so be prepared with shims, etc. Friday afternoon / evening we had a great breeze coming right off the river, we were all wishing for that breeze on Saturday.
Load in is easy, staggered throughout the day on Thursday, you can drive right to your spot and unload, etc. Saturday night is a little more challenging since everyone is getting their cars in at the same time, there's no control, the first truck we saw come in arrived 15 minutes before the show was officially over. No artist amenities other than booth sitters and RV parking available at the Marina in the park for $10/night, about a 10 minute walk to the art show.
Friday morning sales started off fast, we made our booth fee before we were officially open at 9, while we were still getting the jewelry out. By 10 we made all expenses and were well into the black on this show. Sales were great until about 1:00, slow between 1 - 3, non-existent in the hottest part of the day between 3-5. Picked up again about 6 until it got too dark to see our jewelry. This was our first 12 hour day with our new battery / LED light set up, we found out the entire set up will run 11 hours, 15 minutes. Since we have a spot at this show under a huge maple tree we were in shade, but that also meant it was dark when the battery ran out of juice at 8:15. That pretty much ended our Friday sales, no one could see what we were selling.
Saturday sales started a little slower but were relatively consistent throughout the morning / early afternoon. Things died at about 4 when the heat was feeling more intense with no breeze and a little more humidity on Saturday. I don’t think we had any sales after 4 PM, but overall we were very happy with our sales. End of show checkout for commission payment was pretty well organized, long line when my husband arrived, but moved fairly quickly.
Enjoyed a Sunday off with a bike ride along the river, a visit to a winery and then set up our trailer at our campground along the Snake River until it’s time to leave for next weekend’s show in Coeur d’Alene ID.