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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.

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Comment by Robert Wallis on May 29, 2017 at 12:26pm

"I just love your work!", and I always think "Then buy the damned thing!". I had a bunch of those this past weekend :-(

Comment by Melanie Rolfes on May 29, 2017 at 6:33pm
Great review. I am so happy you wrote it. I have reviewed twice in the past, Marge did one last year and now your input. I think it is best when a review can be done from many points of view. It was wonderful to meet the two of you. We love your work and so disappointed you didn't do well. Sales for us were much better this year. Not our best Decatur but we are very happy. Most of the show is not on a slope but you and I were in that section. We have a 20 ft tent so the angle is even worse. We solved that problem by buying the leg extensions from flourish. We used the 1 ft extensions on half our booth. It worked perfectly. Now we are covered for Madison set up too. I highly suggest getting a couple extensions to folks.

Volunteers were amazing at this show. We usually don't except help, it slows us down but these last two shows we figured out how to use the volunteers to our advantage. I hate putting the tent parts in the bags and zipping them up. This is a pretty essay job for a volunteer. We had a gentleman help us with that. Once the truck got in, we were second into the show, they sent over 5 volunteers. We had pre arrange the work and bags in order as we waited for load out pass. The volunteers grabbed everything in order and handed us everything as we placed them in the truck. We even got one in the truck organizing everything. They were awesome!!! Great job Decatur volunteers. The show closed at 5pm and we were driving out at 5:45 and weren't exhausted since we had so much help.

Love the staff and the way this show is run.
Comment by Craig Roderick and Sara Beck on May 30, 2017 at 7:16am

It was great to meet you two as well.  It is always nice to put a face with a name.  Thanks for all of the advice...much appreciated.

Comment by Donald Golden on May 31, 2017 at 9:56am

"We just love your work" is followed closely by "we bought from you last year" and is preceeded by "I just don't have any wall space left" on my list of jaw clenching, teeth gritting things to hear at a show!  Keep fighting the good fight and writing these excellent reviews Craig and Sara!!!

Comment by Jacki Bilsborrow on June 2, 2017 at 1:41am

We ate at Truman's once when we were in Atlanta.  Great place, that is for sure.  

That area seems like it would be a great spot for an art show.  Sorry the show didn't work for you guys.  It is hard to watch others making sales all weekend.  

Atlanta does have a lot of nice art shows.  One of my kids is moving back there this year.  I hope to catch a few more when we go to visit him.

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