To market, to market..

I know that markets are not art shows. I combined work and vacation once (never again) and did the Saturday markets in Portland and Eugene, Oregon. The woman who runs Eugene reminded us that markets are different and were dependent on a recurring customer base instead of a rush of festival goers.  Fair enough. I think I made 80 bucks. Chalked it up to market research.   Oh quit yer groanin'

Anyway, when a friend of mine wanted to start a market here in Buffalo, on our newly fabulous waterfront, she asked me for info on how it was done and I was able to give her the nuts and bolts info on how the sellers are organized and chosen etc. She ran with it and, in partnership with another artist, has established a really lovely market. 

I hadn't been able to participate because of conflicts, but this year I signed up for 3. I live a few blocks away and probably would have spent a few hours down there anyway. The tents are lined up along the boardwalk with the grassy yard behind you and the water in front of you. It is a popular destination for locals, so you are guaranteed an audience. There is music, a food truck in addition to the restaurant options already there.

We had a great time. The weather was perfect, people came out in droves and there was an Urban Planning convention in town so we had those folks checking it  (and us)  out. A wedding party showed up to take pictures and wound up dancing to the band. I made a few hundred bucks which felt like more because the event was easy and so much fun to do. 

An unexpected benefit of doing a small show before the festivals start is that you learn just how unprepared you are for the season to come. We're out of bags? Seriously? Where are those business cards? That browse bin is too short for how you want to use it.  And so on. It's like when the Bills play scrimmage games in Rochester before the real season starts. Well, sorta like that except for the paycheck.

The only sour note came when a 50ish guy with a gray buzz cut and jeans belted just under what would have been pecs picked up a matted print and asked if I would sell it for 5 dollars less. Uh. No. I directed him to the bagged prints that were cheaper and he went for that. (I don't need no mat) Then he asked if he had to pay tax. I pointed to my tax certificate and said that yes, I had to collect it, and they did spot check us. (we're talking a buck here) I'm just gonna give you this, he said, holding out the money sans tax. I looked at it, assessed how important it was to take this guy on and took the money without a thank you. As he left the booth he said, condescendingly,  that he was a business person. I answered that so was I.( And that I must be doing better than he since I has just paid his sales tax for him. ) OK, so he was out of the booth by that last bit, but it made me feel better.

Bottom line is that if you live in the area and have no big show on a market weekend, it is a pleasant "grocery money" show run by high energy, awesome women who are also artists and know what we need. They had everything nailed, from load in to artist parking. (Parking down there is a nightmare. They got us our own little lot) Plenty of advance info. Ready to help with any thing you need.

I am looking forward to my next one on July 5th. Just hope Mr Buzzcut doesn't come back but if he does, I'm ready  for him.

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  • Our market runs on the 1st and 3rd Saturday from Memorial Day to mid-October. If you know Buffalo, you know those early dates and later dates are "iffy" They do cancel for bad weather, storms that come in off the Lake can be tough. There are some regulars, but there is also a lot of turnover as some market sellers do the big shows, also. I doubt that this market will ever affect our 2 biggies: Allentown Art Festival and Elmwood Ave Festival of the Arts. People around here love them a good art festival :)  Right now, the market isn't a destination as much as it is an added attraction to the booming waterfront. I've been to the Ann Arbor market, this is bigger and set up more as an attraction of its own. And it really is a market, not an art show although I did sell "art" that day. framed and prints. Who knew? It is more jewelry and photography and Buffalo themed shirts and stuff. Nice work, no crap, it is juried. But, no, it will not satisfy anyone's art fair needs around here. I think what's great about it is that it is set up on the boardwalk, so people are naturally strolling by and drawn in.

  • Pat, is this market happening every weekend? Do the exhibitors come and go so there are always new people selling their work? That would keep people coming back. There is an ongoing market in downtown Ann Arbor, adjacent to and mixed in with the farmers market.

    There was a discussion here a month or so ago about the 4 Bridges Festival in Chattanooga, which seems to be losing steam and the hypothesis is that the nearby very cool ongoing "market" is satisfying people's needs for art fair shopping.

    What do you think?

  • Pat, I agree with you about doing a small show before the regular season begins. My church has a one-day, indoor show in May (reviewed here as Hilltop Art Fair, 2013, 2014). It gives me the chance to get inventory out of winter storage and tells me what else I have to do which might have been forgotten since the last show of the season in September. Plus, they can be money makers ($700, $560) to help out with those pesky prepaid booth fees for summer shows. 

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