Mercato: Naples, FL March 2014 Review

When Staci and I decided to try a Naples show this year I first talked to Florida West Coaster Geoff Coe.  

We’ve run into Geoff at a number of shows and he has seen the bright colors that permeate Staci’s work.  While cautioning that of course there were no guarantees, he suggested that Mercato might be the best fit.  The crowd is just as moneyed as the other Naples venues but it is younger (relatively speaking) and probably more interested in bright contemporary and abstract work that at the other Naples locations.

Geoff was absolutely right.  Unfortunately, the attendance at the show was way, way down (according to a number of repeat exhibitors that I spoke to.  Of those who did attend on Saturday (the best day), there was real buying interest but sadly even with some enthusiastic buyers, there weren’t enough to go around.

If the crowd had been of normal size, I think most would have had a great show.  As it was, while the painter on one side of us probably did $4K, the painter on the other side had to rely on a previous customer’s repeat purchase to make expenses.   Most of the bags we saw were from the high-end retailers that make-up the Mercato shopping plaza.

What went wrong?  At least 10 locals we spoke to said they had no idea there was a show this weekend.  They had seen no signs, billboards, or TV ads.  When the crowd is small and what I would call “coincidental”, there is not enough to go around even if they are the “right” people.  Where did our booth fee go???

Repeat exhibitors described wistfully the elbow-to-elbow throngs that have characterized Mercato in the recent past.  We could have had a great show if they were there.  As it was, we didn’t make mediocre.  Geoff had it right – this was our crowd; sadly, “crowd” is a misnomer.



Weather - Perfect!

Venue – upscale shopping plaza with many restaurants, movie theaters, shops

Easy set-up starting at 3AM.  We showed up at 5AM and parked in our space to unload.

Teardown was easy too.  We parked fairly near the booth and rolled it out over flat terrain.

Good storage behind the tent. 

Artist parking was in a big field behind the venue and a fairly short walk.

Artist amenities were okay. – Coffee/muffins in the morning and access to the volunteer center bathroom.  (There were also clean public restrooms throughout the venue.)

Booth sitters aplenty and very friendly volunteer group.

Quality of the art was excellent – a lot of work that we would love to have on our walls (if we had walls that is).  Very contemporary with just a touch of the traditional Florida beachy stuff


Looking West - Midday Sunday


Looking East - Midday Sunday


Our Space





Votes: 0
E-mail me when people leave their comments –

You need to be a member of Art Fair Insiders to add comments!

Join Art Fair Insiders


  • UPDATE FOR 2015:

    "Dear Artist,

    The Naples Art Association (NAA) will not continue hosting Mercato Fine Arts Festival. Although the festival has been successful for Mercato and participating artists alike,  Mercato Lifestyle Center has shifted policy and will not host any events that require that they close their street."

    email from the Naples Art Associatino

  • Good review of an under-promoted show.  Sounds like it could be great with good location and amenities, too bad they didn't do any advertising and yes, where did the money go?

  • The real shame of it is that the promoters (von Liebig) missed a TREMENDOUS opportunity to gain new patrons.  Measured by demographics and geography, this show captures the same market as the Bonita Springs National did at its old location at The Promenade: it is a bit closer to that than it is to downtown Naples, in fact. 

  • Barry - The happy hour(s) in the bars at Mercato were very, very generous.  At least we could drown our sorrows at 5PM.

  • I got invited to a cigar thing at Burn, which is in the Mercato Mall. Since then I hung out there because I was going to do Naples Nat and Bonita. It would normally be way too expensive for me but happy hour is half priced so I spent time there. The people that frequent Mercato have more money than all of us put together. I was thinking THIS is where the Naples show should be. Then I found out that there is a show there, run by the same people who run Naples Nat. I'm sorry to hear that they did such a bad job of promoting this event. If I ran it, it would be the best show in Florida. It has a lot of potential.

  • Bill:  Sure.  That works!  =:-O

  • Sorry I missed saying "Hi" R.C.  There was certainly plenty of time to walk around!

    Geoff - One artist speculated that since the advertising had work so well in the past, there was no reason to repeat it.  The theory being that everyone would remember the show.

  • I was at this show for the first time too.  I was disappointed by the attendance and most of my customers had heard nothing about the show; just stumbled upon it.  My Saturday produced sales of $800 while Sunday was better at $1500.  Don't know if I'd do it again.

  • I live locally and for the first time in years I didn't see any ads for this show. Maybe I'm glad I didn't get in this year. Venice wasn't that bad!

  • Geez Louise!! That is just pathetic, and I wish I had an explanation.  My GUESS is that that the museum put most of their time and dollars into Naples National the week before. This was such a promising show its first two years.  I'm sorry it tanked.  And I'm sorry you were a victim. 

This reply was deleted.