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Naples New Years Show-- A Big Letdown, horrible way to start the year

Well, I started my 44th year in the biz with a lot of hope.
I was loaded with lots of work, ten new images and I expected big results. This is usually a $3k-$4k show.
Ellen and I left Ybor early Friday morn under warm, clear skies. It was frigid everywhere else in the USA except Florida.
We knew the weather forecast, 90% rain due for Saturday with a clear but chilly Sunday.
We knew it would impact sales, but it was Naples. They always buy our work there.
I have done shows there since the 80-ies. I remember when Fifth Avenue in Naples only had one restaurant--an old steakhouse.
Now the place is bursting with posh eateries everywhere, inhabited by expensively clad patrons.
It is an expensive town, there are few deals here--for anything.
Real estate is thru the roof here. So are hotel prices.
We headed to the show knowing we were already $900 in the hole. $505 booth and jury fee. $50 for nearby parking. $145 a night for hotel. Then there is gas, food and booze.
This is not a show for the shy. You have to have the goods to sell here.
That means mostly conservative, traditional work with lots of Florida imagery and Tropical colors.
The patrons are elderly and rich. Young people are a rarity here.
That said, I was loaded with lots of tropical architectural imagery, plus a new portfolio of Florida mammals and birds.
Ellen was loaded with fish shacks, marsh vistas, old barns and, of course her cows.
We did the dreaded three thirty wake up and get to the show to setup.
They put us back to back down Fifth in quad-style layout. Everybody has an open side to display. Rear storage space is very tight.
Ellen pulled right into her booth to do a quick unload and get out.
I parked one block off and did the magline cart track to my booth. Six loads later I had it all there.
We were dripping wet from the humidity. Sweat ran off us in steaming torrents.
We got setup by eight and hurried back to the hotel for a quick snooze and a shower.
About then we heard the first thunder, followed by many others. Then the fricking rain.
When we got back, it was lightly raining with no sunlight showing, and of course, there were no patrons on the street to sell to.
It pretty much stayed that way til about noon.
I made one $300 sale in the pouring rain. It would turn out to be the high point of the whole show as I was later to discover.
The rain finally stopped midday only to be followed by scarey gusts of wind that rattled our displays.
Some artists lost work to the winds. The sounds of tumbling ceramics were not pleasant to hear.
Finally, small groups of people started walking the show. Trouble was most were more interested in looking at their cellphones, or gazing at the shop windows, or showing off their dogs. Most did not even look at the art or come into the booths.
It was very discouraging.
Also, the temp started dropping quickly. We went from sweat to near chilly, those of us who had vests were happy we had them.
Sales were pretty much non-existent. Nobody was buying much. As usual, there were exceptions. But very few. I saw maybe eight framed pieces go by me that day, and I was near the middle of the show.
We were happy to wrap it up at five. I did not make another sale the whole day. Ellen zeroed just like almost every other artist I talked to.
Well, I figured, the bad shit is over with now. Tomorrow will be cool and sunny, people will be out, and buying.
Boy, was I wrong.
We woke up Subday morn to 41 degree weather in Napkes. That really sucks. The locals do not like it, the tourists feel robbed and the artists feel like they have been hosed.
I walked the show before opening, getting the feel for how sales went on Saturday. At least one lucky pair of gifted artists I know made a $2K sale. Other than that, most I talked to did between zero and three hundred dollars.
I started spreading the rumor up and down Fifth Avenue, "hold onto your booth spaces tonight because this was probably going to be a Monday show."
"Not!"
It was fun to spread it. Couple of people almost bought into it until I told them the show would be collecting an Extra Day Booth Fee from them.
Oh yeah. Listen to this.
The Wizards at the Naples Art Association decided to really stick it to the artists in a new way.
If you wanted a booth space in the prime center area of the show it would cost you an extra $100.
They already stick it to you with an unrealistic booth fee for a two day show. You have to park a million miles away unless you want to pay $50 for a parking lot nearby.
This year there were no nicely printed pamphlets showing the exhibitors and their spaces. Just a mimeographed two paper list in our packets.
Times must be tough at the Art Center.
Oh, there was a free food and drink affair at 6:30 Friday night.
Anyways, I will get off my soapbox now.
Please Nels, tell us what the hell went on at the show on Sunday?
I thought you would never ask.

SUNDAY
Sunny. Cold. Wearing six layers of clothing. Waiting for a good sale. Waiting for people to show up.
11AM. Still waiting for people to show up.
Boom! Ellen makes a big sale. Boom! Ellen makes another big sale. Neighbor glass artist Mike makes a big sale. Behind me, neighbor Jean makes a big sale. Noon. Neighbor across from me, abstract painter, makes a really nice sale. Ellen makes another sale.
Me, I just twiddle my thumbs.
1PM. Four couples go by me with many framed pieces in hands, none are mine.
Ellen makes another big sale. She continues that way all day. Ellen buys fish tonight.
I had the worst show I have ever had in 30 years at Naples. I do not even break $1K for the show.
Guess what! I am not the only one.
There were a number of artists who did well this year. But, there many more who did not.
Go figure.
People were out and about. But it was hard to get them to pull the trigger.
I am a good salesman, I know how to close, how to shut up at the right time. None of this worked for me this year.
Ellen had a killer show. We ate lots of fish at the Anna Maria Oyster Bar in Ellenton on Sunday night. That was the high point of the day for me.
This was not the way I wanted to start off 2017.
Hopefully, Bonita this weekend will change all that.
Aloha, Nels.

Views: 1118

Comment by Cindy Welch on January 11, 2017 at 9:20am

Nels, thanks for your vivid description of this show.  I love reading your writings about shows you've done.

Comment by Jim Parker on January 11, 2017 at 9:44am

Well that sucks. I hate the rain. More than I hate the snow up north. We had 5" yesterday, then the weather turned warmer, and it rained all day. 60mph winds blew down power lines everywhere. I made no money sitting at home, but I was warm and dry. Sorry that Naples turned out badly for you, Nels, but at least Ellen bought! There's always a bright shiny spot in the clouds.

Comment by Christina L. Towell on January 11, 2017 at 10:20am

Another fabulously descriptive recap of a less than stellar show.  Sorry you had such a miserable week-end...how did Ellen end up doing?  Sounds like she may have been the winner this time out. Thanks for keeping us in the loop, Nels...

Comment by Nels Johnson on January 11, 2017 at 10:24pm
Ellen had a fabulous show, it shocked her, she did so well. She is one hell of a woman, gorgeous, and a great artist. She is the berries.
Comment by Christina L. Towell on January 13, 2017 at 9:12am

Well, good for her...sounds like you're a lucky man on many levels, very sweet.

Comment by Kim Goins Kosek on January 13, 2017 at 12:00pm
Should be a beautiful weekend in Bonita Springs Nels . Let us know please how it goes. We were in Las Olas , pretty somber crowd understandably after the shooting . Rain on saturday to boot . Fortunately , crowd hung out in the shops and restaurants and reappeared on the streets. Things we cant control. Overall , Slow sales for most with a few exceptions I am told. Oh , and we got two parking tickets one for the car and one for the trailer . Fantastic ! Next please !

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