Call for Artists, Making Money at Juried Art Fairs, Craft Shows and Festivals
We were excited to be called off the wait list for this show. It is run by the Decatur Arts Alliance with a large dedicated staff of volunteers. Decatur is a city of about 20,000 on the east side of Atlanta within the 285 beltway. The show is situated in the very beautiful downtown on streets surrounding the historic courthouse which is now a history center. There are any number of trendy restaurants, bars and shops in the area. No vacant real estate..always a good sign.
Check in times are assigned based on booth location. We live about 200 miles away which is a relatively short drive for us. We planned to arrive in enough time to pick up some inventory from our supplier nearby, have a leisurely lunch at one of our favorite spots in the area and then check in. Alas, delays encountered along the way caused us to skip the lunch and arrive at our designated time. After check in you are led to your spot and given plenty of time to off load. The sidewalks in our area were very wide with ample room to drop everything off. There was a free parking lot within 4 blocks of the show that accommodated over size vehicles.
We were on West Ponce de Leon St which had a severe downhill slope. We have dealt with sloping streets in the past but nothing this bad. It took us quite a while to re-engineer everything so it would work. We ended up shortening the legs 3 inches on the high side and using 3 inches of shims on the down side and that still was not enough. If you do this show bring plenty of shims. In the middle of set up the lack of food from the skipped lunch became a problem so we got some take out from a great place on the square called Truman's. I had the second best burger I have ever eaten and Sara had a great salad. We ate there three more times during the show.
The show opened at 10:00am on Saturday but we were there by 8:30 to tie up some loose ends and be ready for any early birds. The weather was a little warm but that is to be expected this time of year in the South. We had shade all day with a nice breeze blowing through our tent. The crowd was strong. We had people in our booth all day. The problem was they were not buying much from us. Our sales on Saturday were dismal. We saw art walking by but it was not ours.
The show closed at 6pm. We headed down to a funky area of Atlanta called Little Five Points and had Mexican on an outdoor patio on a beautiful evening and hoped for a better day on Sunday. It stormed overnight. A couple of tents went down but we did not have any damage. As we were having breakfast at a diner down the street from our booth called the Thumbs Up, the weather cleared at it was a beautiful Sunday. By the way, the Thumbs Up is a great place for breakfast with excellent coffee. The place looks like it is right out of the 60s, including their cash only policy.
Sunday sales were worse than Saturday for us. Again we had people all day long. If even a third of the people who "just loved" one of our prints had actually bought one we would have had a good day. My conclusion is that our subject matter did not appeal to the crowd. We saw people who had been in our booth walk by with purchases from elsewhere. As it turned out we just missed breaking even. We though we were going to have a pretty good sale at the end of the show when a guy with a thread bare shirt walked in identifying himself as a psychoanalyst looking for office art. He carefully looked through all of our images commenting on his patient's expected reactions to each one, some were quite funny actually. He finally settled on one that he liked which we had as a matted print and as a face mounted acrylic. At that point he said " you know I cannot spend ANY money without my wife's approval and she is not here". He made an about face and walked out leaving me to wonder who really needed the help...the doctor or the patient. At that point all hope vanished and we were resolved that we were not going to pull it out at the end.
So, while we did not have good sales others did. Three painters we know including our next door neighbor were happy. A jeweler across the aisle from us did well but I am sure as with all shows there were winners and losers. The glass artist next to us was not happy despite the fact that I had to have this vase I looked at all weekend. I have got to quit doing that.
Load out was easy. I could tell getting our trailer in there was going to be hard so we zipped up, went to Truman's, drowned our sorrows with martinis, had some dinner and then started to break down. By that time a lot of people had cleared out. The show closed at 5pm and even with a dinner break we were on the road by 8pm.
We are really disappointed that our sales were not better because we really enjoyed everything else about this show. The volunteers were wonderful. They were there to help during load in and load out and brought ice cold water by a couple of times a day. They were genuinely concerned that the artists had a good experience including good sales. The area is very nice and is a great place to spend sometime on a holiday weekend. Communication before the event was excellent. If you read the material you knew where to be, when to be there, and the whole thing ran like clockwork from our perspective as first timers.
I doubt that we will try this one again unless our body of work changes. For others I would recommend you give it a shot. It is a very well run show, pulling in a big crowd, in a nice area. If your work appeals to the crowd you could have a great weekend.