Call for Artists, Making Money at Juried Art Fairs, Craft Shows and Festivals
Let me start by saying I never really know where to put these reviews because it is not an "art" show. So Connie, if you want to move it elsewhere, please do. I will fill you in on our experience but YMMV.
This past weekend dh and I went Brandon, MS, which is a suburb of Jackson, to attend Vintage Market Days of Mississippi. VMD is not for every artist or crafts person, which is true of any show. There is no show or event that fits everyone, including VMD. VMD is a franchise-based event. Each franchisee has one or more events they run/promote. Many, to my understanding, have more than one event, each in a different locale. Most, if not all, do a 2 season line up. Some shows are in the summer, most in the spring and fall, and a few in the winter. Each show must be applied to separately, even if 2 or more that you're applying to are run by the same promoter.
We had scheduled set up at 1:00 PM on Thursday. We arrived a little early and were told we go ahead and pull in & set up. Dh and I took a few minutes to eat lunch from our ice chest before heading in. Some had already set up or were in the process of setting up but it was not hard at all to pull up to our booth. Set up was uneventful and quick, considering we were short one person. (Our dd chose to stay home for the weekend so we did not have her help.)
We were done setting up by about 4:00 PM. We took a few minutes after set up to walk around and see some friends from the road, if they were available and not too busy setting up. Afterwards we went to Cracker Barrel for a little comfort food. Yum. :D Our hotel of choice, where there is a special rate for VMD vendors, is about 5 minutes from the venue. Yay!
We went back to the VMD venue about 9:00 AM on Friday with a 10:00 AM opening time. We had only a little tweaking to do to the booth. We were left with enough time to walk around and see some friends we had missed the afternoon before. Friday's attendance was typical for a Friday, which is still a work day for most people. We have come to expect not a lot in terms of attendance or sales on Fridays. We keep our expectations low and then if it is gang busters, we consider it lagniappe (a little something extra), as we like to say in south Louisiana. Friday proved to be an average Friday for us.
Saturday had a good bit more foot traffic. As typical, it was our best day of the show. We still were a little disappointed in the amount of foot traffic but considering the economy in south Louisiana and Mississippi, it was okay. There are many people who work in the oilfield who live in south Louisiana and Mississippi. This industry is struggling still, and the economy is still sluggish. We can see signs it's coming back but it's not back yet. This translates into probably an almost equal number of lookers and buyers, at best. Our price range of products in our booth is from $5.00 to over $100.00 (furniture type pieces). Our average sale is around $25.00. Shock. Gasp. No getting rich here on single pieces that sell for several $100 or $1K. I am working on finding furniture pieces that can bring in more and also am trying to build my skill level. However, I know that it's the small pieces that most people can afford and actually purchase, so these will always be in my booth. I know there is a draw for my work as I have good response to what I do and even have had discussion with shop owners about having my products in a mall situation where there are booths (or a brick and mortar store) available for my type work.
Sunday in the south ... typically the attendance is low until church lets out. Some will come straight from church and spend the afternoon eating and shopping at the venue. Others will go eat out, then come walk off lunch. We had slower sales than Saturday but did have some, even at the last minute.
There are 2 arena type buildings at most of the VMD events. These buildings are equestrian type arenas with open sides but a full roof overhead. When I first heard about doing a show in one of these arenas, I was concerned about possible odor from previous functions that involved the live stock. We have not experienced any odor due to livestock. The dirt floor at Brandon is packed very well. It is not loose at all. I was speaking with Don, the husband of the franchisee, and he said he pays a hefty price to have it packed to so well.
There is no climate control in many of the venues, but at this time of year in Mississippi (and Louisiana) the weather is typically mild. If climate control is critical to your work, then the show in Mississippi is not for you. Some of these shows do have climate control. If you want to apply and climate control makes a difference, then ask before applying.
We were in the 2nd building where the food trucks are. There were 4 different food trucks, I think, each serving their own unique line of food. Most of the time we just snack from our ice chest and have a good meal at the end of the day once we leave the venue. Professionally designed and manufactured signage is hung to let shoppers know about more shopping in the 2nd building.
There was live music in the building we were in. The music is a single musician, usually playing the guitar and singing. The same 2 ladies have bee playing at the different VMD events we have done in Mississippi and Amite, LA. They have good voices but are different in style. Most customers enjoy the live music, from what I hear. For those who are there all day long, you realize their set is about 45 minutes long, but is repeated for the duration of their time there, which is about 3 hours each.
As I have stated in previous comments about doing VMD events, this is working for us right now. We will continue to do it as long as it makes sense. If you have any questions but don't want to post them here, you can PM me.