Every year I attend at least one local show as a vendor to sell my glass items. And every year I say, “This is the last time I am doing this.” To those of you who make a living by doing craft and art shows, I tip my hat to you.
Perhaps the more you do shows, the better you get at it. And I suppose if you do several during the holiday season there are some economies of scale to benefit from. It’s the pre-show preparation that can be very time consuming. I spent the weeks before the show ramping up production trying to figure out what will be this year’s best seller. I set up a table in my guest room to arrange all of my items determining the best way to display them. Everything needed to be priced and then packed very carefully. This is glass we are talking about. I had to pack all the necessary ancillary items too; things like, tape, bubble wrap, bags, display items, props, etc. If I did this more than once a year, I probably wouldn’t obsess so much about all these things. As it was, all of my preplanning on how to display things didn’t help. Once my neighbor set up her booth, I had to rearrange things so that my items didn’t disappear in the back drop of all of her items.
The Kingwood Women’s Club Holiday Market is an annual event that benefits many local community charities. They sold tickets for a two hour preview show on Monday evening that included adult beverages and appetizers. It was very well attended, but I had few sales. I was disheartened. The next day, however, there was a steady stream of people, and the sales started to come in. Shows are so much more fun when they are well attended and people are buying. For one brief moment I even thought, “Hmm this is fun. Maybe I’ll do it again.”
But I have to tell you, I am not a sales person. It’s not that I’m shy, but I am definitely an introvert. Anyone who has done the Meyers Briggs personality typing knows that as an introvert being around a lot of people zaps your energy. Not a good thing for this type of work. I also find that I can be clueless about what people do and don’t like. A few of my favorite pieces did sell, which was validation, but then there were items that I thought would fly off the table that didn’t. One of the most interesting revelations was from someone buying one of my wine bottle cheese boards. Wine bottles are unpredictable when you fire them. They always have some bubbles in them where the air gets trapped. I have very high standards for my wine bottles. If they end up with more bubbles than I deem acceptable, I don’t sell them. One customer was digging through my basket of bottles. When I asked if I could help her find a certain color she said, “No, I’m looking for the one with the most bubbles. The bubbles are so interesting.” Well now, there was a paradigm shift for me.
It is those kinds of interactions with customers that I learn the most from and are a valuable part of doing shows. It helps me to broaden my thinking. Another customer bought one of my snowman Christmas ornaments to turn into a pendant. How cute will that look on a turtle neck sweater! Now why didn’t I think of that?