Monday, May 24, 2010

Art Shows - Are We Making Money Yet?

As I've written in earlier posts we started doing some arts and crafts shows. Mainly, in our neck of the woods - meaning Palm Springs and out to San Diego. As total novices we didn't know how to get connected to the shows so I subscribed to the "Craftmaster News," - yes, you have to buy a subscription, nothing is free, but I digress. I'd read the shows listed by month and of course, noted the price of shows which has so far determined whether we go or not as we don't want to put out the big bucks for shows until we know what we are doing. One of the art shows that caught my attention was "Recycled Treasure," in Paso Robles, California. Reasons for applying to this particular show: 1. entry fee $40 (price is right), 2. sea glass is definitely recycled treasure and 3. the clincher - my sister Julia, who doesn't do jewelry lives in Solvang so we can stay with her, get in a visit, then do the show. Perfect. Well, not quite.

I applied to the show, sent in pictures of our sea glass jewelry. Got accepted, then learned that sister Julia and her husband were going to be in Key West, Florida that weekend. So we'd get in a dinner and stay at her place alone on the way back. Disappointing, but hey, I'd committed to do the show. We left Palm Springs in the morning drove to Los Angeles and left our black poodle, Dylan Thomas, with Steve's parents then headed up to Solvang. We had a great dinner with my sister, then drove another two hours up to Paso Robles. I'd booked us into Motel 6 - hey, I have to save money where I can. It was late when we arrived. We got lost and then finally found the motel. Now it was really late in the evening and we were exhausted. First lesson of the road trip - don't save money on a motel if you don't know where the motel is located. And you know of course, that Motel 6 is no longer $6 if it ever was - "They leave the light On," but that is about it for amenities. This particular motel was $79 a night with tax. Once in the room, I noticed that there was no coffee pot, so much for bringing tea and apple cider drinks, and no shampoo. I hadn't brought any as I'm used to hotels having shampoo. Anyway, I went up to the desk and asked for shampoo - nope, they don't provide it nor do they have any to buy. So bring your own shampoo if you stay in a Motel 6, (must be one of their cost cutting schemes). My husband suggested we go out and find an all night drug store, but we'd gotten lost once and I didn't want to get in the truck again. The room was clean and the shower hot so that was good. The bad was that the Paso Robles Motel 6 is situated right next to the freeway about two feet away. I could swear that if a semi-truck pulled over to rest it would be in our room. The freeway noise was loud and all night long. So be careful of where you book your stay before a show.

We got up early, found out how to get to the Paso Robles park, then headed off to Starbucks for coffee (remember there was not pot in the room). The Recycled Treasure Show was held in the downtown park. We found our allotted space, unpacked, then Steve went to park the pickup. Now, you'd think I'd be setting up while he is parking. No. I wait for him to return because our tent/gazebo is like stiff and hard to erect. I see other people putting up their tents and it looks easy. Believe me, for me it's not. I could maybe do it if I had all day - I'm not mechanical and I hate contraptions that can pinch fingers and crash on my head. I couldn't put up the tables either because instead of buying light weight folding tables at say WalMart, we were using our old banquet tables that weight about 500 pounds (a little exaggeration) and they too have folding legs that pinch fingers. Finally, Steve gets back and we start setting up our space. First, we erect the tent and I have to drag the sand bags over to secure to the legs so the darn thing doesn't fly away, then we do the tables, then the table cloths, then the display boards, then we have to take all the jewelry out of plastic bags and display it prettily on the tables. Oh and the earrings, hundreds of them, it seems like hundreds, have to all come out of tiny plastic bags and be placed on earring boards (something we've just designed and are trying out for the first time. These boards are all heavy too - made out of plywood and not the thin plywood.)

(Here is a picture of one of the earring boards. The board works, but I'm not in love with the way it looks so we're still on the hunt for an attractive way to display the earrings. ) When we are finally set up it is about 8:00 and the show doesn't start until 9, but people were walking in the park and started to stop by the booths so it worked out fine.

Angles of booth. Sorry, didn't get a straight on shot.

While we waited for customers, Steve started leaving the booth to get food. He was hungry. He started with a hot dog and then went back for tamales and sodas. Then later, he made a run to a nearby coffee shop for frozen coffee drinks and scones. This is another expense, you have to consider when doing shows. Either bring your lunch or plan on spending your profits at the food vendors who always seem to have the most customers of all. Hmmm, what does that tell you?

We made a few sales and that always makes me happy. One of the biggest sales was my sister Shirley's gray sea glass pendant necklace, but that money would go in her pocket not mine. She had split the $40 entry fee and I was in charge of selling at this event. Anyway, when I started to add up my expenses in my head, I knew we were in the red big time. First, we had gas expense, not cheap when your husband owns a 1 ton pickup truck, 2. dinner in Solvang with my sister at restaurant, 3. Motel 6 at $79 for the night, 4. Food vendors, - and I knew there were more expenses to come for the trip home. On the bright side, I saw my sister Julia which was a treat, we got to see a little bit of Paso Robles which is a really lovely little town with old time square and shops and we got a little more show experience.