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Naperville Woman's Club 37th Annual Art Fair .....just meh

Just a short review of the last show I did in Naperville, Illinois. It was the only show I had scheduled for this month and since I had done well at Old Town I thought that heading back to the Chicago area would be more of the same. That's the thing about this business.....it takes you high and then it BAM...slaps you right in the face. Ha! 

Naperville Woman's Club Art Fair is located in Naperville Settlement, a re-enactment of a early mid-west village with all the "feels".  Located in a very high end part of Chicago, it is a beautiful town with very expensive homes....and a great downtown with lots of unique restaurants and shops. It is truly a beautiful place to show. It is very well organized, having been around for 37 years and the booths have plenty of room with most having space on either side and lots of back space. You could drive up right behind your booth to unload and load up. It is laid out on the path you take to see the actual settlement, so you can't be missed by buyers. Plus, the weather was beautiful with both days in the 70's and a light breeze. There were about 140 of us showing that weekend.

So what happened? Both days had plenty of buyers walking through. "Walking through" is the optimal word here. Talking to other artist's... I kept noticing that there were a lot of us that were doing the show for the first time...I also noticed that none of us were doing much business. Was it the highest quality show I have ever done?...to be honest, not really, but it was nicely interspersed with those of us that were regulars and also some local artists. Judging was fine and it seemed like a lot of locals got awards...the big award however went to a fabulous photographer ( I am never good with remembering names) and it seemed to be as fair as could be expected. Judging is always somewhat subjective and I try to keep it off my radar. The dinner reception that accompanied it was so good we didn't have to go out to dinner that night.

I luckily sold one big piece that paid for expenses and left me with a little profit on Saturday. Sunday I did a whopping 175 dollars. Unfortunately, I wasn't the only one, jewelers, photographers and most everyone I talked to had a rough weekend. If I am wrong, please correct me in the comments because I would love to hear of someone having a great weekend there.

I have to say for two beautiful days sitting in a lovely location listening to a great band was really nice. The ambiance was great, the show was also very well organized with cold water being delivered every couple of hours. I loved doing it- but i have to say I doubt I'll be back. Sometimes I think these older shows just need a new demographic. I felt like the people that came were true supporters of this lovely show and probably had all the art they ever wanted to buy. But honestly, that is not my call to say since I really don't know the in's and out's of what goes into delivering a show. I just know that personally, with a 9 hour drive there and back, it just was not worth it for me. 

Views: 952

Comment by Robert Wallis on July 14, 2016 at 10:23am
Sorry to hear you didn't do well there. I did the show once, maybe three years ago, and that was enough. Wonderful setting, very nice people, an outstanding artist's party, but just no sales.

The year we did it, all of the artists around me were all first timers at the show and clustered around the section adjacent to the building where the party was held. No shade around and hot as the blazes is how I remember it. The heat did take it's toll on attendance that year. I extended my back tarp out as far as it would go to make some shade and eventually the adjacent artists and the ones behind me hooked on to make a shade pavilion behind us. One guy declined to attach on to the rest of us and the poor guy looked like Humphrey Bogart stepping off the African Queen. We were worried the guy was going to get heat stroke it was so hot. No one in our section, veteran or newbie, made booth fee and none said they would come back.

Being in a high income area is not a guarantee of good sales. The Naperville Women's Club do a good job for the most part on putting together a nice show, but bless their hearts, just don't seem to know how to promote their show to bring in buying patrons. Without that crucial part, a show is going to fail for the artists.
Comment by margaret luttrell on July 14, 2016 at 10:44am

you said it all Robert....Bless their hearts!!!! nice to know I wasn't the only one.

Comment by Barry Bernstein on July 14, 2016 at 11:25am

There were a lot of us who got in only to find out that the good Naperville show is the one in September. I cancelled and I know at least 2 others that cancelled when they found out that they applied to the wrong show. The past reviews, and comments from others is that it usually is extremely hot and that nobody comes or buys at this one. I believe the reason for all the first year people is because they do the show thinking it is the other one. For most of us it is a one and done show.

Comment by Barrie Lynn Bryant on July 14, 2016 at 1:02pm
Very good review. It would be outstanding if the show dates and booth fees had been included.
Comment by Barrie Lynn Bryant on July 14, 2016 at 1:03pm
The other show is Naperville Riverwalk.
Comment by margaret luttrell on July 14, 2016 at 1:37pm

wow...ok....July 9&10 and $350

Comment by Roxanne Coffelt on July 14, 2016 at 6:09pm

I applied for this 2 or 3 times in a row and never got in.  Then I heard that Riverwalk was the better show, so I quit trying.  Applied for Riverwalk once or twice and didn't get in there either, and this year I just plain blew it off.  I'm staying close to home.  Not making a lot of money, but practically zero in expenses, so at least I am making money.

Comment by Slobodan Blagojevic on July 15, 2016 at 9:29am
Correction: booth fee $280 and jury fee $30
Comment by Slobodan Blagojevic on July 15, 2016 at 9:37am
A point about promoting: I live there and get weekly emails from local newspapers, listing events in the town for the week. In "what's happening this weekend" section, this show wasn't even mentioned. I also didn't make the fee (photography), as well as two other photographers I know. On the other hand, I did $1,600 there last year. Go figure.
Comment by Elizabeth Kline on July 15, 2016 at 12:55pm

I was there too. The people who were there seemed very enthusiastic and appreciative of the art - but like you, I barely made expenses. They just weren't buying. I breathed a sigh of relief that I broke even, basically - didn't happen until Sunday afternoon. The weather was perfect, the set up easy...I really wanted this show to work but it just didn't. And I did notice a lot of first time artists there. Super nice people too. It's too bad it didn't translate to sales for us. I am pretty sure I won't return either. :(

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