Nothing to drink (hate facing the restroom at the Philadelphia Convention Center on crutches), the sounds of the beeping forklifts and bustling artists packing their wares for music. So how was it? Interesting. For sheer number crunching, I have 34% the sales ($) I had last summer, but 255% the number of orders. Really. Not a typo: 255%. Of the orders, 79% are from new galleries, and only 18% of all of them are from locations outside the Philadelphia regional area. The final show of the year, and it turned out to be every bit as regional as the Atlanta and Dallas January market shows were.
Other continuing trends: shrinking artist and buyer numbers, and tighter and pickier union rules and people enforcing them at the convention centers. I am glad I missed set-up at this show as I truly might have disemboweled someone. On the first day as Bill, Elaine, Todd, John and Daniel were starting to put up the booth, the union steward came by and said our booth was over 300 square feet so we weren't allowed to put it up ourselves (I'm using the royal "we" as I wasn't[obviously] there)--we had to have two union carpenters set it up for $185 an hour... Bill agreeably informed him that we have two separate booths, two separate contracts, two separate exhibitors, and we just help each other set-up and intermingle our work. The union steward said no, we were one booth, we had to pay for the union labor and we could do nothing ourselves except hang the work--they had to do the walls, the lights and the carpet.
Well we couldn't afford the extra almost $3,000 bill so Bill said he was going t talk to the show management and if they insisted on charging us the fee, we'd have to pack up and go home. The Rosen Group and Hargrove Exhibition Services both upheld our two-contract status so Hargrove ended up paying the union vig. I wonder if it worked like a hospital billing an insurance company and they asked for one amount and took (the much smaller) what they could get. Thankfully, I don't have to worry about it.
However that was the nail in the coffin of doing one big booth together for us. First the electricians in Vegas wanted to put up the track lighting (and said they will be enforcing that "rule" next year), now the carpenters at the BMAC had to go for the squeeze. The convention center workers must really be getting hit with a decrease in shows to look so hungrily to the poor artists...
Other big news from the show: The Rosen Group will be launching a Las Vegas Show to run at the same time as the JCK and ACRE. Marvin Gaye told me that the Rosen show is targeted to be for glass and jewelry, exhibitors by invitation only, and located at the Sands (the same location as the JCK). For me, I'm doing ACRE again. Won't be the same booth layout--not even close (thank God--I don't have enough hours left in my life to spare any more for that hideous set-up), but we'll be there together again (Siyeh Studio, Black Cat ArtWorks and Bentwell Metals). We're finally shipping our whole display home from Philly and designing a whole new layout from scratch-which we'll then ship to Vegas.
And now we're about finished with break-down (I spent all of it in a chair--the first part packing glass and metal into boxes, the second part working on this review). Dee has cold white wine waiting for me back in the room. Tomorrow sees a flight home, a flurry of of appointments (doctor, leg wax, etc.) and then packing for Montana. Wednesday we are vacation bound... and I can't wait.