Water in a Dasani bottle (it is dry and hot under these halogen lights), a slightly-less-muted chatter of buyers for music. Day 2 of the February Buyer's Market of American Craft--historically the biggest wholesale show for my craft demographic, and I have written one order today. Add that to the two from yesterday, and things are not looking good. Yesterday Bill asked in a comment if could say "Economic Downturn", I may have to learn to.
So far the universal consensus (among the artists contributing to the discussion) is that there are fewer buyers, more lookers, and the orders placed are uniformly small. Does it have anything to do with this being an election year? My first year at this show was the last election year so I don't have good sales figures for comparison (I expected not to do well as it was my first time here and I met my expectation). Is it being in Inspired Interiors? Today I am more comfortable about my decision to move as the one order I did get was from a new (for me) gallery in New Hampshire and the owner said how nice it was to find me outside of glass--the glass section is just too overwhelming. If I don't see my regulars here I am going to follow up and offer them the show special for all orders placed by the end of February. However, while on the one hand I feel good about having a post-show sales strategy, on the other I know that most buyers will have used up their spring budget by the time they get my pitiful little bid for their business so I am not likely to get many (any?) takers.
I am beginning to think that making a living in American craft now is going to require a much more diverse strategy than it has in the past. Instead of being able to rely on one or two big marketing pushes (and the visibility garnered from a wholesale show qualifies as a big marketing push), I think I need to focus on a constant, diverse flow of marketing. And I think it will be beneficial to outline marketing goals and target specific buyers--less scattershot and more focused... Good grief, I sound like an MBA candidate. Further proof that it isn't enough anymore (if it ever was) to be just an artist.
The highlight of the day so far was the two visiting community college students who came into my booth and said my work was "righteous". I think their names were Bill and Ted.
PS--The show isn't as gloom and doom as my posts have seemed. There is more to doing a show than orders written at the show... and if I think about it long enough, I'm sure I can tell you what that more is...