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Setting up my booth in the driveway—and making lots of moola

I made almost $1500 selling my photos out of my booth that I setup in my driveway.

Read on.

i live in a historic, almost 100 year old house in Ybor City.  Ybor is a historic district of Tampa. Now known for bars and cigars.

Across the street from us is a vacant 18,000 square foot factory building.

I heard thru the Ybor  grapevine that a Christmas craft show was scheduled to be there on December 2&3.

by coincidence, I had no show planned for that weekend.This event was charging admission, was gated, complete with food trucks and beer and wine sales. Crafters were being charged $200 per day to sell there.  They claimed they already had over 1000 online paid ticket admissions.  They expected to have more than 2000 people come.

i liked the prospects, but I was a little skeptical about those numbers.

In years past, Ellen and I have had an open studio sale in our house for two days.  Both times we did it we were lucky to get about 100 people to attend and we barely would sell $500. Not a great return.

so I salivated about the prospects of several thousand people mingling across the street from us.

can you say “scab?” 

OK, let us just call me a savvy opportunist.

So, last Thursday, after golf I got my Lightdome tent setup in the driveway complete with my walls.

I then attached a tall panel adjacent to the booth. I attached it to the corner pillar of the porch.

I hung two 30x40 framed images there. Good curbside appeal.

The booth showed off well.  I had a lot for my handcolored iconic images hung there in 16x20 frames, think PeeWee, Christopher Walken, et al. (Threw a Little Latin in there).

on Friday, after golf (I get to play a lot more in the fall, light show schedule), I added two more tall panels to two more porch pillars that bordered our front stairs. Again, I hung six 16x20 iconic images on them.  More curbside appeal.

on the front walls of our porch I hung four 30x40 framed photos. Yummy curbside appeal.

to cap it off, I planted two pole flags with the words “gallery Open” on the curb in front of the house.I wanted those fish across the street to sniff our bait and run over to us.

We had Ellen’s work hung on the hallway and living room walls.

We also had four tabletops full of flat and blown glass, ceramics and wooden items priced low, to go.

after all that, I zipped up the booth and parked Ellen’s van up against the front so nobody could get in,

We sat on the porch and drank wonderful Manhattens while hoping our efforts would bear fruit.

Early Saturday morn, I rehung frames on the outside panels and walls, unzipped the booth and made it pretty.

Beside the two flags we had a sandwich board sign that also said “Gallery Open”.

I put that in the driveway, close to the street. Ooh, we just oozed with curbside appeal.

Their event was 10am to 6pm both days.

I was ready by 9am.

I sat in my directors chair. With my IPad in lap.  

By 9:30 the crowd was lined up on the sidewalk two blocks away from the ticket gate. My booth was directly across from their gate.

I smelled money.

Mind you, these people were paying $4 to park in the nearby Ybor garage, then they had paid $10 for admission. Some paid $35 for a VIP pass that included food and booze.

these people were coming here to buy $10 candles, custom jellies, designer salsas, Christmas wreaths, lowend pottery and other objects, most priced $20 and under.

my lowest price was $20 for a 8x10 matted photo that I usually sell for $30 at shows. I also had 11x14 matted photos at $40, which I usually sell for $50. I had my 16x20 mats at $60, usually at shows for $85.

my 16x20 framed photos were priced at $125, at shows they are $150. I had 24x30 framed photos marked down to $225, usually sold at $295. Finally, I had 30x40 framed at $375, usually at $500.

my goal was to make $500 or more.

Some people in line spotted me.  They ambled over and I told my stories. By 10am I had made $150.

After that, I knew I had to be patient and wait for them to come out, and then see if many of them would amble over.

Amble over they did.  I drank wine, told stories, and even sold a large framed Fallen Angel for $350.

Many even went inside the house and Ellen worked her magic.

At day’s end, I sold $1100 in the booth, and Ellen sold $300 inside, plus we got to drink a lot of wine, plus the judge awarded me best in show. It was our yard cat and I gave him extra kibble. Plus, I am invited back for next year, no jury fee, no booth fee.

Just kidding, there was no judge. The cat got extra kibble, all six of them, don’t worry, we got all of them fixed.

Sunday dawned, and I yawned.

And that was the tone for the day.  Smaller crowds, way smaller sales.

we still had fun.  I started teardown at 3:30 was done by 5pm and they were still open to 6.

My sister knew the promoters. She said that they blogged on Facebook that they had 1800 paid attendance on Saturday, and another 800 on Sunday.

I estimate I lured about 300 of them my way.

We ended up with total sales inside and outside about $1600.

Not bad for zero overhead costs, plus I got to drink wine all day, and I finally tore my Lightdome Monday,after golf.They are planning this for 2018, if we are still in Ybor, I plan on doing it again.

Oh, we are selling the Ybor house—but, that is another story.

The purpose of this blog was not about bragging because I made money in the driveway, it was about seeing unexpected opportunities when they come your way, and then capitalizing on them.

Later gators.

Views: 1376

Comment by Nels johnson on December 7, 2017 at 2:47pm

Sorry about not capitalizing the first word of my sentences, I just kept forgetting.

i did this blog at Berninis while eating lunch, and of course, drinking wine.

Comment by Nels johnson on December 7, 2017 at 2:48pm

Dang, I did it again, oh well, nobody is perfect.

Comment by Greg Little on December 7, 2017 at 4:44pm


It is always a great thing when you can make money sitting at home on your front porch. Sure better than those shows where I felt that "I was in the right place but it must have been the wrong time".

It would be interesting to know how the people across the street did with their sales...I'm sure many would be jealous...

Comment by Nels johnson on December 7, 2017 at 4:51pm

Greg, most of them were lucky to sell $1000 in two days

Comment by Cindy Welch on December 8, 2017 at 9:28am

Nels, sounds like a perfect opportunistic pop up shop!  LOL

I am doing an open house with a friend in a week.  We both paint but she does so on canvas, fence boards and other things, also makes jewelry.  I paint on home decor and furniture, and still do my coasters.  I believe it'll all work well together.  We are offering light refreshments.  All those who bring a friend will get entered into a drawing for a free gift.

I hope we can each have as much success you and your wife.

Comment by Christina L. Towell on December 8, 2017 at 10:58am

Love it!  You're so good at thinking outside the box and yes, taking advantage of an opportunity. Good on ya!, and thanks for sharing with us...we all need to do this more often.

Comment by Connie Mettler on December 8, 2017 at 11:46am

You know, what I am thinking, especially this time of the year, people like to mingle. I think that is one of the good things especially about holiday events, being with others, seeing the cool unexpected things and taking away a treasure. Because I have just moved and everything is still in a turmoil I've not been able to get to any holiday buying places. The Indiana Artisans used to have a holiday show here in Fort Wayne at the Convention Center and it was full of wonderful things and people buying. I was really looking forward to it and then the dummies didn't have the show. Bummed for sure. Now I see in Ann Arbor/Ypsi they are having multiple studios and open houses (Winter Art Tour) over 300 artists participating and I can't get to that either!! So, everyone is going to get in their stockings cards that they have donated to hurricane relief, Hippie Jack's /feed the hungry campaign and Heifer. Me, I need some more goods. Set up in front of my house, Nels!

Comment by Kathleen J. Clausen on December 8, 2017 at 1:17pm

Way to go Nels!  I've done home open houses about 7 years, but this year decided to skip it because people were getting tired. We had a customer from a show in Madison ho invited us to come to her house about 1 1/2 hours away for an open house for her friends.  We didn't expect that much, but to our surprise, we sold as much in 5 hours as we did the last 2 shows put together.  So I agree, make hay when the weather's good!  You had all of the right components in place.  Hope all of you others who are doing home shows are having great ones!  Others of you, maybe this is something you could consider doing in future!

Comment by Jacki Bilsborrow on December 12, 2017 at 11:43pm

How smart of you to recognize the opportunity and seize it.  

If you don't get your house sold by next December rent a few spots on your lawn to a few artists and make even more.

Comment by Larry Sohn on December 13, 2017 at 12:42pm

Nels, in doing this did you have to debate with yourself the fairness of doing the home show in this scenario?

It's fine to do a show at home. However you indicated doing this because of the show across the street.

Many artists complain when we do a show and there are "scabs" (your word, not mine) stealing customers / customer sales, from us.

I am NOT disparaging you, at all. 

I merely ask how you feel about the situation and reasoning thereof.

I have been at shows where "scabs" set up. Multiple artists complained. The promoter did their job and had the scabs, closed down. Artists were happy and felt vindicated.

Do the artists, on this thread, who have complimented you, believe the "scab" scenario, which happens at some shows, is a good thing?

Is promoting a practice of scab setups, conducive to growing and benefiting the Artists and Art fair market?

Is fighting and discouraging a practice of scab setups, conducive to growing and benefiting the Artist and Art fair market?

I have done very well setting up my booth at a home.

No booth fees, no set hours, no competition, no travel ... no other shows, anywhere nearby.

I did not "scab". If a show was in the area, I would not have done so.

Again, I ask for open discussion / debate on support of or discouraging of "scab" setups.


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