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Melbourne Art Festival-New Howard Alan Show, last weekend.

This one was new first show for HAE in downtown Melbourne.
This is one month earlier than the long established festival which had been downtown for years which is now moving to a local park away from downtown.
HAE had 150 booths setup in quads down New Haven, the Main Street downtown.
Everybody had one great outside wall to display on. The other opposite side was not jammed up against your neighbor. You had room to store or hang there,nice.
There was room for rear storage if you worked with your rear neighbor.
Overall,the show had strong exhibitors, not many lightweights here.
Well, now onto the show.
This was my first Howard Alan Art show I have ever done in my 42 years out there. I have been there longer than Howard, but he has made much more money.
I roomed with little brother Stevie Vaughn. He is an old pro at doing HAE shows .
I did exactly the same as he did for setup. We were asleep by 9pm, snores aplenty.
We woke up at the horrid 2:30 am time and drove downtown. We unloaded and were asleep in the vans again by 3:30am.
Love being schronched around the steering wheel in some improbable spinal position that resembles a twisted pretzel on acid.
I awoke at 6am and wandered to my booth, totally attended by the sounds of cascading Trimline parts bouncing on the pavement.
We all should band ourselves together and let conductor Don Nedobeck lead us in an entrancing symphony of synchronized falling Lightdome parts counter balanced by bouncing Trimline parts. The public would flock to it, and we could go on tour and make as much as the Rolling Stones.
Ok. Reality check.
Good things.
It never rained once the whole weekend.
Nobody's dog peed in the corner of my booth.
Nobody tried to show me their photos.
The people were very nice, what few of them there were.
Saturday I made $245 and I was the high man in my quad. I even beat Vaughn.
A few did $1K or better for the day.
Very few.
Sunday morn, did my early bird routine. Got eggs and hash, got the NY Tines, got positions "A".
The place across from me, a Wonderful Parisian cafe, let me in an hour earlier than advertised. Had great coffee, killed two hours reading NY about the Donald. Sad!
The show opened to a thunderous lull, and stayed that way most of the day.
I judge patronage at art shows by how many cinder blocks I could roll out of my booth and hit nobody. For example at Fort Worth I would not even try to roll a pebble. At Melbourne, I could have easily rolled three cinders and hit nobody. I made $520 more on Sunday. At tear down
The train charged thru at 5:57 and I was in and out by 6:27'. Ellen saved supper for me, it was the highlight of my day, besides the bike maneuvers.
Now, let me talk seriously about why this show did not work this year.
First off, Howard did his professional advertising. They were in the papers, on posters in shop windows, TV, and the Internet.
Still, the turnout was disappointing.
Very few Good Shoes Patrons.
There was a big event in the same place as us last weekend on Saint Paddys day. Beer and food,no art.
When I drove around the area I saw lots of out of biz retail and restaurants and bars.
This area has still not rebounded from the 2008 recession.
This is still a serious Bible-belt down. They ain't all surfers and smoking pot.
They like beachy dreck art and it better be related to there, not Cocoa Beach or anywhere else.
You still have the other longer established show going on, although in a new remote location, I wish them well, but I see a similar scenario to what has happened with the Cocoa Beach Spacecoast show. Not good. The area cannot support two shows this short in time. Something will give.
Howard long timers who have done his shows for years, do not forget I am a newbie, tell me a lot of times a new, first time show, like this, fail. Takes time to build.
So next year, if you got $400 to spend, and hang out on the beach, give it a try. I cannot guarantee you will succeed.
Me, I might give it another try.
Three in the morning setups go against my inherent religion.
Later, Gators.

Views: 968

Comment by Melanie Rolfes on March 27, 2017 at 7:17pm
Always fun to read your reviews. Heleyne is awesome. Slay the next show.
Comment by Nels Johnson on March 27, 2017 at 7:59pm
Thanks, Melanie
Comment by Brenda Flynn on March 28, 2017 at 8:51am

You are hilarious. Loved the review. I haven't had the best experience with Hell-ayne. But, then, my hubby is my art sherpa, and he hates rules. So, he follows what Mike and Micky do at the shows. They start packing, so does he. They jockey for position in the que for loading up, so does he. But, he gets caught. Howard Alan Shows have generally been good for me. I try not to do too many of them. But, they have that EARLY morning set-up, which is necessary for me cause I don't get too many Fridays that I feel is necessary to pay for a hotel, adding to my expense. 

Comment by Debbie Smith on March 28, 2017 at 8:52am
Sad to see you did not do well. There was a gun show and another show just south of Melbourne the same weekend. If you applied to Melbourne in Wickham Park, I wish you well. Moving the show, I fear was a mistake. All the best. Debbie
Comment by Shaari Horowitz on March 28, 2017 at 9:04am

Nailed it, Nels. This was our first HA show in 17 years on the circuit. We REALLY wanted it to work for us. Logistics were a breeze, our fastest set-up and tear-down ever. HA people certainly run a tight, well organized ship. But we eeked out expenses by a thread, with one sale all weekend. Our goal was reasonable- to pay for our modest escape down here between two great shows. Many of the locals we've spoken with were interested in art under $60. Would love for this show to work out, especially now that we've conquered the early morning set-up, for better or worse. Just not sure our buyers are there. But, it wouldn't take many to reach our goal, so you never know...
Thanks for the honest review, Nels. (And I'm sure Heleyne would love it)

Comment by Cheryl Parsons on March 28, 2017 at 9:24am

Perfect description of the weekend. I do want to thank the HAE staff once again...they are the best.  I live in the area and was concerned that the show may not live up to the usual HAE locations. I did get the information on why the local art organization is moving their show to Wickham Park.  It had to do with the food trucks.  The food trucks were at the show on New Haven last year and they provided income to the organization; possibly the local restaurants were not so happy?! So the food trucks and show are moving to Wickham Park. Personally, I think park exhibits are less successful. Anyway, not having the usual travel expenses, I was optimistic that I would make enough sales to cover the expenses.  Just barely made it and spent some it on a great dinner at Meg O'Malley's!!! Looking forward to City Place!!!

Comment by Loret Gomez on March 28, 2017 at 9:27am

Wow, I had a totally different show experience. I had a great show and sold quite a bit. The foot traffic was non-stop. I would not hesitate to apply again next year. The people were sweet and very friendly. Heleyne was super nice. Setting up and tear down was a breeze. I did not feel stressed at all. There was a lot of great artist. I really loved the location!!!

Comment by Jean Houndsome on March 28, 2017 at 5:28pm
Lol, great post, funnyyyyy!
Comment by Christina L. Towell on March 29, 2017 at 8:59am

Hilarious and insightful as usual, no food descriptions though, dang.  Sorry it wasn't a better show for you, Nels, but I always enjoy the read.


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