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Boise Art Museum's Art in the Park 2013 , Boise, ID

My last show of the season is in the bag. This was another new show for me, running Fri-Sun Sept 6-8. I woke up late on Monday morning after the show and felt totally fried. I’m not sure why. Sure, the show had long hours, 10-8 Friday and Saturday, 10-5 on Sunday, but Edmonds was just as long. It wasn’t that hot and I was in the shade. They had men with golf carts to help haul your gear so set-up was relatively easy. It was a 430 mile drive which probably took its toll, but I don’t think that was it... I think it was because I was in a major dead area of the show. This show claims to get 200k people and although I knew that was surely an exaggeration, I expected at least 60-100k. I’ve had more people walk by and into my booth at small shows this year. I certainly had more activity in Edmonds this year. If it had been hotter, the shade in my area might have helped attract some people. I made most of my sales on Saturday but Sunday had the most people. Others around me had differing results.

I was watching traffic flow in my general area all weekend and here’s what I noticed. Some of the isles were WAY too wide, as was mine. There were only 7 booths on my side of this HUGE isle with intervening trees and about 25 on the other side offset from ours (not directly across). There were always more people on the other side of the isle than on my side. They just didn’t bother to come over to my side. Not enough booths to matter maybe? Even the other side didn’t get the traffic that other parts of the show got. One jeweler was smart and asked to be moved after the first day. This was not the area I requested and there were many other first timers around me. The picture below was taken around the busiest time. Notice how wide the isle is and how there are many more people on the left than the right. I was on the right.

I had heard there was B/S at this show, and there was. I had heard there were some low end work at this show, and there was. But many artists say it’s their best show of the season so I decided to give it a try. I came prepared to sell a lot, a lot of small items. I was stocked up on prints, cards and other reproduction items. But they didn’t sell like at other shows this season. I think buyers were very price sensitive. I did however sell 2 originals which saved the show for me. In the end I made money. It was my highest grossing show of the season, by a small margin, but it was also the most costly with its 20% commission. In the end, I'm glad I did this show and I will try it again if I can get a better booth location. Also I will check the Boise State football schedule. This year there was a home game on Saturday which may have affected attendance. I know there was a 4G outage during the game that affected square sales. I didn’t have a problem with it but many others did.

Some specifics

Setting-- In a very nice partially treed park between the art museum and the zoo and across from the Boise River. I could hear elephants during the show! Layout--260 artists in a very confusing and spread out configuration. For the first 2 days I got lost trying to find my own booth!

Food-- 36 food vendors!!! Mostly stuff like hamburgers and hotdogs. On the expensive side.

Setup-- all day Thursday starting at 9am. Although you can’t drive on the field they have men in carts to help you load in and out. Artists trickle in throughout the day to set up.

Booth size-- aprox. 15 ft wide by 12 ft deep.

Booth fee-- $100 (more for a corner, I think) plus 20%. There is a very long line at load out to pay your fee. They also collect the sales tax. Some people waited over 2 hours in line! I tore down and loaded up first. The line wasn’t that bad by the time I was done.

Weather-- A storm came through on Thursday afternoon. We lucked out and only caught a portion of it. Other artists that came in late said they drove through torrential rain, high wind and 3 inches of hail. Even so, a few artists lost their tents to the wind. They don’t allow staking so bring plenty of weight. It wasn’t very hot this year but I heard it often is.

Amenities-- artist breakfast on Saturday, evening drinks and jazz with free drink coupon. Coffee and snacks in the morning. They take coffee away at 10am and tended to run out. I only got some at the breakfast.

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Comment by Annette Piper on September 17, 2013 at 4:56pm

Thanks for the review Lisa, and glad to hear the show was a success despite some shortcomings.

Comment by Lisa Foster on September 16, 2013 at 11:53am

Chris, they told the woman that was checking out next to me that there was only one artist that had higher sales than her. I checked out near the end. So, are you going to buy some weights now? I had about 75 lbs/corner (happifeet and sandbags).

Comment by Lisa Foster on September 11, 2013 at 12:11pm

Steph, the wind scared me. I had left to get groceries and when I got out of the store the trees were blowing sideways. By the time I got back to the site most of it had passed other than some rain. I helped my neighbors move boxes into their tent.

The woman next to me during checkout was reporting $14k in sales. I wonder what she was selling and where she was located?!? That must have been a hard commission check to write!

Comment by Lisa Foster on September 11, 2013 at 12:06pm

I have to say, I liked the shade, and my work (and I) don't do well in sun, but they need to figure out how to connect that part of the show to the rest. I heard from several artists that they keep on messing with the layout and have made it worse. I think it was in order to fit in more food vendors and sponsor booths. They do have big trees to work around, which is a challenge but it would be better to fit the artist's booths between the trees than to have such a wide isle.



Comment by Steph Mader on September 11, 2013 at 10:40am

Good report, Lisa. Sorry I didn't get more time to chat with you. My experience was similar to yours - a few good sales put me in the black, but just barely for a long-distance show with a large commission. I have just a couple lower-priced things in my booth, but I was surprised to sell mostly higher-end pieces. So, there were art buyers there, but not many of them for me. Someone called it the corn-dog crowd. I had a south-facing booth with no shade, so staying cool was a challenge. My neighbor lost her booth in the crazy but brief storm that rolled through late on setup day, but the wonderful people behind her loaned her a booth for the show and pitched in to get her set up again, so she managed to save the show. Artists are the best, just sayin'.

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