Monday, January 26, 2015

The American Made Show 2015

Front of the Booth
And now the promised post on the American Made Show! Statistics out of the way first. We didn't do the show last year as I had to take care of my mother who was post-surgery (and had a major infection). So my comparison will be with the year before which was our best Buyer's Market show ever (we missed the boom times in the 90's and started just as the recession hit). We were down from 2013 by about 10 orders, but our average sale size was up a bit.

32 orders
15 new customers
$636 average sale

Hello DC! (After a night on the train)
New customer distribution:

  • 2 California
  • 1 Connecticut
  • 1 Delaware
  • 1 Florida
  • 1 Massachusetts
  • 1 Maryland
  • 1 Maine
  • 2 North Carolina
  • 2 New York
  • 1 Pennsylvania
  • 2 Virginia

Existing customer distribution:

  • 1 Arkansas
  • 1 California
  • 3 Florida
  • 2 Indiana
  • 2 Massachusetts
  • 1 Maryland
  • 1 Michigan
  • 2 North Carolina
  • 1 New Jersey
  • 2 Pennsylvania
  • 1 Wisconsin

Back of the Booth (Look Ma, no dead side!)
Two existing customers (on from California and one from Hawaii) contacted me with orders prior to the show and said they would not be at any of the east coast shows this winter. Now it's up to me to contact everyone else I didn't see and send them images of the new work. I will also let them know how the show went and encourage them to attend next year. I did not see my buyers from Uncommon Goods, but I did meet the buyers from the Museum Fine Arts San Francisco. Mostly who I didn't see were the little shop buyers from Pennsylvania and Maryland who were so prevalent at the last Buyer's Market I attended. I have a feeling they are going to go to the ACRE show in Philly in February instead. Regardless, I will get in touch with them before that show to let them know about our new work, and to check their stock on what they have ordered from us previously. I did ask the Rosen Group for specific numbers of buyers for this show and was told that registration was higher that it has been in 4-5 years with 70% of those registered checking in at the show.

Set-up went quickly once we decided what to do about our extra space.
Crowns for all!
Those were the facts of the show, now here are the impressions: It felt dead. Dead, dead, dead. The aisles were empty, we rarely had anyone waiting for us to take their order, and time crawled by. Despair was thick in the air. I talked to several artists who thought they were having a terrible show because of the feel--only to find out when they totaled up their sales after the second day that they were even or ahead of the previous year! As will always happen, there were also those who had a horrible show, and those who had a great show. No one was saying their numbers were anywhere close to what they had been in the 90's, but I doubt they will ever be there again (more on that tomorrow). The people who were there were placing orders, and the orders were good. Unfortunately they were also efficient which meant we artists had a lot of time on our hands to worry, and gossip, and--in some cases--gripe and foment. More on THAT tomorrow too.

The traditional One Nice Night Out For Dinner photo
In our booth we spent the time getting to know our neighbors better, mentoring new exhibitors, and Todd made lots and lots of crowns. He made crowns for everyone around us with each artist's own work as the centerpiece of her (or his!) crown. We also took lots of pictures. In all, it was a very, very good show.

For a personal experience, it was great. Todd, John, Dee and I took the train in from Atlanta--a sleeper and an adventure all on its own. Set-up was the quickest ever--in spite of a change in the floorplan that left our booth exposed on all sides and with five extra feet of width. Breakdown was also quicker than ever and we were back in the hotel room before 6:30 pm on Monday. It was very nice that the show ended at 2:00 instead of 3:00 or 4:00--though to be honest, it really doesn't need to be four days long. I can see the argument for having it run Friday through Monday so some buyers can attend Friday through Sunday while others can grab the other end of the long weekend Saturday through Monday. But it is very long--and boring--for the artists when there aren't a ton of buyers.

Bottom line: I WILL do this show again next year, and I will do everything I can to promote it and keep it a vibrant, exciting place where artists can connect in person with buyers. Thank you Rebecca, Jen, Maria and all of the rest of the staff from the Rosen Group and Hargrove who worked tirelessly to fix problems and address concerns throughout the show. I was very impressed with the level of professionalism and personal commitment shown by all. And now, more pictures than I could comfortably share in the text.

My goody bag for the train from Todd
Todd on a train.
Trying to get Todd and John's viewliner roomette.
The dining car on the train was very cool.
Narrow train aisle
The hall in the hotel was as wide as the entire train car--both cabins and the aisle!
Booth: Back Right
Booth: Front Left
Booth: Front Right
Booth: Back Left inside
Booth: Left Outside (Our kite wall)
Hanging with the neighbors.


Bill said...

I'm confused. Was it good, or was it bad?

Wendy Rosen said...

Too shy to mention that you won a NICHE Award... Huh? btw- Uncommon Goods was there and purchased from some newbies. I think the traffic problem was made worse by putting all of the newbies at the far end of the show... at the end of aisles the traffic stays integrated and better distributed. Glass and jewelry have always been the big winners at the show. The marketplace seems to have flipped... or flipped out. This was the first year that wearables, pottery and new people came out on top. Scratching head.

Wendy Rosen said...

Was it a good show, was it a bad show.... depends on your perspective. If you are used to writing 250,000 in one show and only write 150,000... then it's a bad show. If it's your first wholesale show and you pick up 5 accounts you are ecstatic. If you have been at the show for 20 years and steadily wrote 30,000... but they were all reorders... and this year you wrote 20,000 but they were all new accounts... you ave a big smile on your face. It's all so relative. And... the prize more often goes to those who plan, prepare, make personal calls and promote. Brenda does her homework.

Brenda Griffith said...

Ahh, Wendy I posted that already--can't keep bragging! :-)

Bill said...

Sure you can, and you should. At least for this year...