Tuesday, April 29, 2008

ACRE in Review

Just finished a grande Starbucks with lots of half n half, the clacking of flip-flops and the chatter of travelers at the airport for my music--interrupted by the PA system with the message, "Attention please, would the passenger who left his hearing aid and false teeth in the men's room please return to claim them... if he can hear this message. Thank you." There you are. That sums up Las Vegas.

I always plan to do a big review of a show when it's over, but when the time comes to write I end up at a loss. I could gripe about economy and the scarcity of buyers, I could note the increasing sense of desperation and fear I see in many of the artists as they see their orders shrinking and scramble to figure out what they could do differently, but instead, I'm going to focus on the positives. There is no doubt that it is harder to make a living in the fine craft sector than it has been in previous decades, but as I can't do anything to change that difficulty, I'm going to write about those things I see making a difference in the level of success an artist has at a show.

I wrote on day 2 or 3 about the long set-up time we had. We had a commensurate break-down at six and a half hours. However I think it was my best booth ever, and your booth set-up is the first thing that differentiates you from the artists. We went for a clean white canvas and relied on the work to provide the color and interest pop. Buyers are there to see your work and if it doesn't grab them in the 18 seconds (or whatever) that they give you in a scan as they walk by, then you've lost them.

We're lucky in that a lot of our work is big and is, or can be, displayed on the walls, but for artists who make smaller more detailed items, a big, beautiful poster of the work in a prominent place in the booth is essential. I still would like to see us shave a lot of time off the set-up, but after this show and the tangible results in sales, I'm not going to skimp on the display. Why spend all the time and money to do a show and then do a lesser display because it's faster and easier to set-up? If you *can* put up the best booth you can design in a short time, great! But in the current market every edge helps and better is more important than quicker.

Another factor for sales success is having new product for every show. We had four new glass colors and nine new glass and metal pieces for this show--and that's just since the Buyer's Market in February. I'm not sure how much new we'll have for August for the Buyer's Market, but the 13 pieces and four colorways we have already added this year (including the new work for the Buyer's Market) is probably enough.

Now to post. More musings tomorrow.

1 comment:

Bill said...

I'm getting a hint that you did fairly well?