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Pink Palace Craft Fair, Memphis, Tennessee, Oct 13,14, 15

I haven't written a review in quite a while......Things have been busy and I have been on the road way too all of you know the drill. But I thought I would review a show I did for the first time last weekend in Memphis, a place I haven't seen too many reviews from and this show was not the easiest to get a read on beforehand. I like to try new ones though and I have a pretty good track record with choosing smaller venues that usually are well worth it.

Even though I live in the same state, it's a six hour drive from one end of the state to the other. The show is at Audubon Park, a lovely large outdoor venue near Germantown, which is the high end residential area of Memphis. The booth price varied but I payed 540 dollars to be inside a large tent with electricity. There were outside tents, culinary tents, kids bouncy ball rooms and a petting zoo...I knew none of this until I set up. It's pretty clear to me that if there is a camel and a kangaroo at a show that the artwork is not the priority it needs to be. Rutt-Row......

Set up was non eventful but there wasn't much room behind your space in the indoor tents....there was lots of empty spaces though.... where someone failed to show or they didn't fill. The layout was chaotic at best with some people almost hidden and way too near the porta potties. Some people got zero traffic. I saw an artist who is so popular at Kentuck that she usually sells out, who was so hidden that the sales were pretty nonexistent because nobody knew she was there. The big tent I was under was almost completely filled with new exhibitors and there was so much buy-sell and Sunday afternoon painters that as a friend of mine said. "You probably just had to send in your money and you got in." It felt that way.

I was in front of a potter and the space behind my booth was tight. Usually,it's a give and take where both artist's compromise.... as I have many many times and are happy to do... Even though there was only about two feet the potter in back of me would not share and put his camo fold-out chair in my doorway. I asked politely if we could share the space and he said it was his and I was at the corner of my booth....on closer inspection- he was too and he also had an empty booth space next to him he could have spread out to. He got really obnoxious so I had to put my boxes and bags and chair tightly on the side and close my tent in the back. Sorry, but fair to say-this guy was a big jerk. If you are on AFI and you read this....try to get along with the next artist you are next's not hard- a little compromise goes a long way.

The show was slow on Friday and I did average. I payed my booth fee and hotels and pretty much broke even. The show goes from 10 until 6 on Friday and Saturday and then 10 till 5 on Sunday. The consensus around me was that everyone did ok on Friday and were pretty happy. No big sales for me but I sold a lot  of smaller work. On Saturday morning, the crowd at the gate seemed pretty large ( 9 dollar entry fee) but it didn't really result in many sales for me. It was a lack luster crowd that looked in from the aisle and even with small work seemed to be holding tight to every 20 dollar bill. There was free coffee in the morning but everything else was cash and carry. There also was some Merit Awards designated but the two people that won awards near me ( a metalsmith and a knife maker)  didn't seem to translate into sales much. Sunday was rain and a twenty degree temperature drop( windy and cold) and that killed sales. I made 120 dollars on Sunday. It was humbling to say the least.

We didn't get down to the Rendevue but we ate one night at a restaurant called "Southern Hands" that was authentic soul food and it was great. Our hotel was reasonable and fairly close to the show. But overall.....I have to say that it was a major disappointment. When promoters let everyone doesn't benefit anyone, least of all people with higher end work ( I'm an encaustic painter). Many friends, new and old, said this was a first and last show also. It seems that Memphis, a big city with lots of big companies (think Fed -Ex, International Paper and St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital) could use a high level show but unfortunately, the Pink Palace is not so regal.

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Comment by Linnea Lahlum on November 3, 2017 at 2:21am

I was there too for the first time. It was a 600 mile drive for me. Far outside my usual range but I had never been to Memphis and before and wanted to explore that part of the state.

I had an outside booth. I didn't see any buy-sell, but really couldn't walk around. I did not see any on the rows immediately around me. My neighbors were all veterans of the show.  One local, one from further away than me, the rest somewhere in between. I talked to all of them at length. All said that sales were seriously down this year. They didn't know what happened. On Saturday the local guy said there was a college football game. 

Space was also tight outside: and there was no reason for it. Luckily I got along with my rear neighbors so we shared the space. There was no room on the sides to roll up my sides all weekend. 

I covered expenses but not much more. My hotel was not cheap. I tried to find a cheaper one but trying to choose a safe neighborhood in an unfamiliar town meant I opted for very safe and paid more. 

On one of my tourism days in Memphis after the show  I had the largest window in my van broken: not theft or vandalism. Police said likely a stray golf ball. This put me in the hole an additional $ 400. 

Comment by Tammy O'Connor on November 3, 2017 at 12:04am

I was there, wish we'd met! I experienced the show much as you did. I was outside on the end of an isle. I'm a bit mixed in my emotions about this show - my first in Memphis. On one hand, they did give me a corner booth a luxury I usually can't afford, I do stained glass work and because of this gift I saw the value of having the corner to display my art. I had a blast with my neighbours -Nancy Eaves and Lorri Honeycutt.  I did make my booth/expenses plus some so I'm not so bummed. On the other hand, $9 to get in to the show ?! Were they trying to keep people out?? Hummm I really wondered.  The "crowd" was just not there. I don't think the booth next to me sold anything the entire weekend. There are some shows that really appreciate their artist, and you just feel it...this was not that show - even if they do give you a tshirt. I would really like this show to do well, it is a lovely setting and I met some hard working, dedicated, probably burned out volunteers.

Comment by Christina L. Towell on October 27, 2017 at 9:49am

I would think that a city like Memphis would have a more prestigious show, maybe River Arts is the one.  Let us know if you decide to try it and the outcome...always enjoy your show reviews.

Comment by margaret luttrell on October 27, 2017 at 9:46am

No Christina.....I would absolutely not.....but there is a show in Memphis called "River Arts" that I have heard is really maybe this trip to Memphis won't be my last.....

Comment by Christina L. Towell on October 27, 2017 at 9:26am

Thanks, Margaret, enjoyed your recap of this show.  It's a sad state of affairs that promoters feel the need to include buy/sell to an "art" you think you'd ever try it again?

Comment by Sandra J. Atkins-Moran on October 19, 2017 at 8:45am

I remember doing this show and seeing so much buy-sell/imports.  When a number of us complained to the show chair about a guy selling Peruvian imports, the response was," He won't be invited back next year."  That doesn't help us this year and sets the public expectation for Import trash and cheap goods.  I quit doing the show years ago for that reason--a reluctance to address the problem immediately.  Too hard to compete for dollars with the junk purveyors.

Comment by Melanie Rolfes on October 18, 2017 at 6:54pm
Thanks Marge glad u are back. Nice review
Comment by Bobby Weiss on October 18, 2017 at 6:19pm

Thanks for sharing. I've been wanting to try this area and spread out some.

Comment by Joel Lockridge on October 18, 2017 at 6:18pm

Excellent review. I've been wondering about this show and had heard of it in the past. Mystery solved!

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