Monday, April 26, 2010

My First Street Fair Experience

I made it through my first street fair experience and I am happy that I did something new yet excited that it's over.  I did the street fair for a number of reasons - to sell art, to get my name out there, and to get experience with setting up and manning a booth.  While I didn't sell as much art as I'd like, I didn't bomb AND I definitely got great exposure and experience.
Here's the breakdown of the experience:

This street fair was a 2 day event in Encinitas, CA.  It is a HUGE fair with about 10 blocks of booths on both sides of the street.  I think the attendance was great - there was constant traffic and a lot of people stopped to talk about my artwork.  I got a great response.

I was hoping there would be more arts and crafts booths but this fair was mainly gifts, gadgets and (sorry) junk.  (SEE PICTURE BELOW) I called the booth next to me "The Dollar Store".  There was a non-stop, mad frenzy for plastic jewelry going on next door!  I mean really, how can I compete with $1???   People were not at this street fair to buy one piece of art for $40 - $150.  They were there to spend $5 on a doggie visor, $5 on jewelry, $5 on Kettle Korn and the rest at the beer garden.   I'm not trying to sound bitter - this was the reality and it's OK because I learned a lot!
My sales were ok.  I ended up making more $ than what I paid to be at the event, so that felt good.  I took notes and here is what I would do differently next time:
  • Frame more canvas paintings and make more framed prints - It seemed that people could imagine hanging the framed pieces in their home.  My big framed print was the first thing to sell. 
  • Take better care of my paintings in transit.  I noticed that some of the paintings had marks on them the second day.  Luckily I brought some baby wipes and got the marks off.  Baby wipes were a life saver!
  • More variety in themes - I had a lot of my food paintings out and they attracted a lot of attention but people either loved them or said things like "that's just going to make me eat more!".  In fact, a lot of women made that comment!  I never thought of that and I bet they wouldn't say that if I had some fruit and veggie paintings.
  • Send out more personalized notes to people who have told me they like a specific painting.  People who already have a vested interest in a painting will be more likely to make a large $ purchase than an impulse buyer.
  • Another thing I would do differently would be to try a strictly ART fair.  My next door neighbor vendor told me that he had better luck selling art at art fairs where people knew they were coming to see and purchase art.  He said that people don't go to typical street fairs to make large purchases.  
On a side note, I owe a lot to my husband, Brad, who turned out to be a lot more than just a treasurer.  He basically set up and broke down the entire booth,  (the neighbors FOR SURE thought I was a prima donna) he got me food and kept me company the whole time!  That is love.  Thanks B!

In addition, it was AWESOME to see so many friends come by the booth.  Seeing friends really got me through the long days.  I am lucky to have so many nice people in my life!

So I'm on to my next art business adventure.  I can't wait.  There is something invigorating and amazing about doing something you've NEVER done before and getting your art OUT THERE.  It's scary but it's so worth it.


Kari said...

I LOVE my truck painting!! I'm so glad you thought of me before it sold! Great seeing you show your INCREDIBLE talent. Kari

Kathy said...

Your work looked great! I wished that they had grouped all the art together. You were right. There was a lot of trinket stuff, and less arts and crafts. The trinket crap really devalued all the nice art.... I wish there was just an arts and crafts faire...

Elisabeth said...

Thanks both of you for coming by! The best part was seeing people I know and getting feedback.

Laura Bray said...

I love your artwork-I'm a huge fan of painted sweets (and real ones too!). I have quite a few cupcake paintings myself.

Good job of really thinking about the event-that's always helpful when planning for next time. Be sure to go back to this post BEFORE you decide to do a show again. We tend to forget these things and then make the same mistakes over & over. (At least I do! LOL!)

Beverly Gurganus said...

I'm glad that you were able to have that experience, and that you were able to assess the fair and make notes of things to do differently. It is definately worth it for the experience. Good Job!

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