Well, this show was last weekend. Usually it is in mid-May but because of COVID it was moved to August. It was cancelled last year.
They made it a smaller show, 85 booths instead of 150-plus. Also the competing craft show, on campus, was not moved to August, which would had made it another 300 booths.
That said, it is early August in the height of summer season in Michigan, and all the “Good Shoes People” are up north in their summer cottages.
Which means it was a Lowend selling show.
But, they were buying.
Itwas a nice setup. They had one block of 20 artists facing each other with the road in the middle. The other 65 booths were on a straight line down a perpendicular street. Only problem was, we were all crammed in side to side. I guess they forgot about COVID. This is only the second show this year that has no spacing. The other one was the Bonita Springs shows.
That said, the show is held right in the heart of the business district with retail and food biz everywhere.
Normally, this show is held in mid May, the college is happening and professionals biz people are out buying. It is the only show there for the year.
I have done it since the 90’s, and it always been a $3-4K show, mostly Lowend sales. When I found out it was only 85 booths, I was licking my chops. Unfortunately, the serious buyers never showed up. But, a lot of artists had not done a show for a year,and they were hungry. They were happy to be out again. If they only made $1K, so what, it was money in the account.
I was fortunate to clear $3K, that is still a great amount for a two day small time show. We are not talking Saint Louis here.
My neighbor was a great painter who did a underlay map of Michigan with local scenes over painted, like the Mackinaw Bridge. Her fiancé was busy going back to the van for more stock all weekend.
I never saw any real big pieces go by me, and my booth was dead center, number 44. Maybe they got picked up later or went out at either end. The crowd was young and energetic, and valued our art. Lots of good comments. “That is seriously sick man!” I think the May time is better and hopefully next year it will be there.
Now, how about a Lansing Tequila Report.
The fourth time is the charm—finding a good sushi bar, with booze, in East Lansing.
I shared a room with Barry Bernstein for the show. He is more renowned than me, and that is not easy to do. He has been out on the circuit for centurys. They are thinking of putting his face on Mount Rushmore in place of Crazyhourse—is that sick! Barry does great ceramic pottery and gets into the best of shows, ahem, Cherry Creek next. I was hoping rooming with him, some of that would rub off on me, besides his snoring.
I know, WTF, does this have to do with Tequila Report?
I am slowly getting there, I am using the Hemingway experience. Live, breathe, read, stay with me, if necessary drink a margarita. So, Friday, after we setup, I said, “Let us go find a good sushi restaurant.” Barry has eaten with me many times and usually likes my choices. So, I used Google Maps and found four good sushi choices, none that I had been to before.
The first one we went to was four blocks from the show. I got there first. When I walked in I saw a small counter with chairs. Saw two people munching on a sushi roll. Saw no sushi refrigerated cabinet with fresh fish. Perflexed, I looked at this small Asian man who pointed to the ceiling. ”What!” I exclaimed. “Menu on the ceiling, all rolls” he said.
I asked if he did Uzusukuri (a dish of sashimi grade whitefish sliced razor thin), he looked at me like I was a crazy man. ”We only do rolls, mostly for takeout.” Oh, and they did not do any alcohol. Wham,bam! I was out of there.
Barry had just pulled into the lot. He drives real slowly like most of the old farts that I grew up with in Saint Petersburg. God! Do not let me end up like this. He is a safe driver, just slow…and very…steady. So back to Google Maps and I find a promising choice—Korean Sushi Bar. Let’s go.
I let him lead on this one. He had his GPS map on it, and you know how that can go. We drove by the place twice before we found it. We walked in, place looked promising. Saw a sushi chef slicing at the bar, thank God, she missed her fingers. Waitress came and led us to a nice sunlit booth. My mouth was watering with anticipation. I asked, “Do you sell alcohol here, like sake and beer.” She solemnly nodded, “No!” I was ready to leave but Barry was hungry and ready to eat. So, I was all in.
The waiter brought us two bottles of water with iced cups. Then, we waited, and waited,and waited, and she never returned. We were out of there. Barry was hungry, but I was hungrier and wanted booze too. I have never eaten sushi in my life without a hot sake and Sappharro beer.
We spotted a Thai restaurant around the corner. ”Let us do Thai, they always have booze,” says Barry. I was all in. At that point I would have eaten grilled Phad Thai off a heated sidewalk if I had sake too. The place was around the corner from the Korean place. It had a large takeout counter with menu boards hanging from the ceiling. No alcohol served.
We said,”Loggone” and fled the place.
So Barry got on his phone and found a promising choice. It was billed as San Su, a sushi restaurant with Cocktails. I was all in. I followed Barry in his aging Ford-Michigan-encrusted-rusted-Upper Peninsula van. We got lost again, fricking GPS. But we got there. It is about 7:45 pm now. We have spent almost a good hour trying for sushi..with booze.
I loved the look of the place. From the outside it was sleek charcoal building with large windows that went floor to ceiling. You could hear people chattering while munching,the place waxed energy. We walked in, and we saw about 25 people waiting in the lobby. The place was fantastic, sleek tables, slim razor chairs,modern bowls and utensils. The sushi bar was as long as a runway in Daytona with 16 empty chairs. Oops! Sleek alcohol bar with slim high back chairs, nobody in them.
Hopefully, because I know at most sushi bars people want to eat at the table, not the sushi bar, Iasked, “Can we eat at the sushi bar?” ”We are short of staff, only seating at tables, it is a 30 minute wait.” The greeter said. We were hungry, we’re not leaving here, this was our Alamo sushi moment, I would have traded my Jim Bowie knife for a set of chopsticks in a Mexican moment.
The lobby was jammed and I spied the empty chairs at the more empty bar. I figured Barry and I could tell old Art fair war stories for 30 minutes. And we did. About 40 minutes later, our friendly host spotted us. ”I did not forget about you guys, but…I forgot there are three groups ahead of you. ”How much longer?” My head, inches off the bar, I was sake-driven with no prospect of salvation.
Then Barry made the best quote of the night which led to our salvation. He said,”Well, maybe you should comp us a few beers for being so compliment rather then belligerent.” The guy looked at Barry like he was talking Greek and walked away. Soon, maybe five minutes later, this well groomed, and well built, guy shows up behind the bar-bar where we were sitting. He was tiny, with a pencil thin mustache and he radiated confidence. ”So, do you guys want to eat appetizers here with drinks.” Music to my ears.
Barry, mused for a minute, and asked can we do entrees too? I shushed him and told tiny Mike (we found out he was the manager of the place) “please get me a large hot sake and a 16 oz Kirin beer." Barry did the same, without sake.
(Stay tuned for the rest of the story. CM)