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We have just finished settling down after a 2-day craft fair, gear all sorted & packed ready for next week-end, had some food and sorted the money.
Reflecting on the 2 days I've decided its been an odd one.
Day one, numbers were down and takings down even more, the only people that seemed to be doing well were pocket-money small Christmas Gifts and food. Lots of positive chat though and a few pleasant encounters with fellow photographers but really depressing sales-wise
Day 2, numbers down even more but people started buying, except they nearly all wanted to haggle. One bloke even said, "well - its what you see on telly so we're giving it a go."
I was tempted to be strong-willed and resist but realised that a lot of the images were last year's stock in old frames, so money tied up that could be better in my pocket.
The end result was that sales were up even though numbers were down, I still made some profit and reclaimed some money tied up for over a year and made a few more potential leads / commissions to boot.
The other thing I noticed was that I experimented with a range of smaller print sizes (10x8" and 12x18" mounted and framed and mounted in bags to see if there was cost related aspect to what was happening to the market down here and they hardly sold - they mostly still wanted the 16x20" or larger)
The craft-fair scene seem to be changing a lot, hope the Gallery doesn't go the same way - its exhausting!
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I'm fully retired now, but was on the Craft Fair scene for over twenty years selling my range of traditional toys and running s kid's workshops or demonstrating my Craft.....there is nothing more tiring.....the worst part was usually the loading and the driving afterwards, when feeling totally drained for very little reward sometimes........Loved every minute though, I still miss the camaraderie and banter of fellow stallholders and my regular customers.....I always said, if I come back I will do Craft Events as a jeweller.......they walk into a marquee with a single posh briefcase, unroll a little black velvet tiffle with their display and they are set up.....It's the same when they pack up.....roll up the velvet, pop it into the briefcase and off they go, whilst toy makers, potters and picture sellers take at least an hour to clear up then load.......HAPPY DAYS.
Thanks for the memories.
All crafts and craft fairs are finding sales down - it is the economic climate not TV that is doing it.
You can't blame people for wanting to get an item for cheaper if they can get it ..... you would do the same to get your frames. It just comes down to your profit margins.
Hobbo, I'm retired so this is our hobby and allows us to meet up with like minded creative people (and make a few bob to cover the costs of our expensive hobby). Because of the hassles you describe and the cost of the fairs we are beginning to wonder about scrapping most of them and maybe doing a couple of gallery exhibitions a year instead. More concentrated work in some ways but less set-up and break down + travel and we always seem to make more money from the gallery.
Kaybee, maybe I should have made it more obvious that my tongue was somewhat in my cheek with this thread, yes of course the economic climate is hitting us all but this was the first time I have had people trying to use the "Bargain Hunt" tactics with us so blatantly. (I nearly always offer a discount for more than one item purchased anyway)
As for my frames I confess - I made good a deal on those, one where both I and the seller benefit from an effective long-term sales relationship, but I didn't "Haggle"
We used to make it a point to go to our favorite outdoor market every weekend, then we went about 4 years and only went a couple times. This past summer we went on a more regular basis, but many of my old friends, Hutterites mostly, don't go anymore. I asked an oldtimer if they were working another market, and he told me; no, they stopped bringing in produce because people didn't want to pay the prices, he said it wasn't worth the time and effort for them. It goes the same for us really, we don't sell, but if the prices are higher for the same products, we're not likely to make a trip there. They have new owners, and a consortium of people with little experience. The new owners go around making sure that everyone charges the same prices, no fun in that, and I told them. Some of our old friends still sell there, mostly East Indians who have large farms in British Columbia, and they have the best of produce, and they're willing to bargain. But as you say Brian, big changes, and I agree with Kaybee, economics.
I have given up doing exhibitions etc. I've sold more prints through Facebook this year than I ever did putting them in frames and sticking them on a wall somewhere. People used to want to haggle over the price, "can I buy it without the frame?" was a common one.
I find people don't haggle online, the profit is higher and the hassle less. I don't own a printer, I get a local company to do that, they used to do my frames. I Dropbox the files, they print and post the prints out, I get the bank transfer from the customer and pay for the prints. I don't even have to talk to anyone! Perfect.
I still visit the places I used to exhibit with but now I enjoy looking and not worrying about selling. I am planning an exhibition next summer but I won't be expecting to sell it will just be a showcase of work really.
Some interesting comments coming in, thanks.
I understand what you mean about using the internet for business Focused, a friend of ours went full time as a professional artist a couple of years ago and around 90% of her business is via the net.
For me, being in my '70's and having a decent pension it would go against everything I am looking for (which is not a "business"). Its the pleasure of creating my own work, then the social aspects of sharing that work with the public that gives me the "buzz" I need to get up in the morning. The money I make is part affirmation of the quality of my work and part a way of keeping on paying for the print making and photographic kit.
Quote: I don't even have to talk to anyone! Perfect.
I get the impression that Brian and his wife enjoy doing just the opposite ! !
Getting out and about, being sociable meeting people and having a good old chat and jovial banter.
I spotted a photographer doing a small craft fair in Bakewell last year I got chatting to him and he said he did really well from the fairs. Perhaps location is important too?
Quote: Perhaps location is important too?
I assume Bakewell gets quite a few visitors.... even I have been there ! !
Quote: I spotted a photographer doing a small craft fair in Bakewell last year I got chatting to him and he said he did really well from the fairs. Perhaps location is important too?
Too true Pete, we have been to some real horrors in the past, in a "Posh" area, expensive to attend, expensive for the punters to get in and mostly brought-in tat on the stalls.
Time of year is important too around here as we have a distinct pattern of tourism,early Spring then mid-September to end October are best for Gallery sales as that's when the "more mature" tourists with money turn up likewise for the fairs
We have a more or less fixed group of fairs we attend as we like the organisers, the stall-holders and are getting a faithful group of purchasers who come back year after year.
Jeff, spot on mate!
I think what you are seeing is a "haggling culture" and I think you are dead right - this is very heavily promoted by TV shows like Bargain Hunt.
The difference, I guess, is that the "traders" at those fairs quite deliberately set their marked prices to allow for haggling as it is - and always has been - standard practice in their trade. They expect to sell items at around 60% of their marked prices and look upon it as a bonus if some naive punter comes along and pays the marked price.
But it applies in "normal" retail as well, especially with secondhand goods. Have you ever met anyone who paid the ticket price for a secondhand camera or lens in a photography shop?
Quote: Have you ever met anyone who paid the ticket price for a secondhand camera or lens in a photography shop?
Is it possible to meet yourself ?
Its poetic justice really as in my last 10 years of work I was Training Manager for my company and one of things I trained was negotiating skills, particularly the skills of haggling to get the best deal (and loved to do it myself)
"Is it possible to meet yourself ?" Jeff, I do it every morning when I look in the mirror to shave, the conversation is usually short , "Oh God, its you again" or "hello Grandad"
Quote: I get the impression that Brian and his wife enjoy doing just the opposite ! !
Absolutely - I wasn't meaning they would prefer online sales - just my preference when dealing with prints.
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