Thursday, August 25, 2011

Bend Art Festival - Don't Quit

From Ashland, Oregon, we traveled to Sunriver, Oregon near Bend. We had a few days on the river before the weekend art festival in Bend, so we took advantage of the free time and went fishing on the Deschutes River which flowed right outside the cabin. Steve was in heaven, he could fish all day and into the night which he did. Sometimes, you have to leave the jewelry making behind and just relax in nature. It is Shirley and Pat's cabin and they came up to the river on Thursday with our Mother Jane in tow. Two of Shirley's kids came over to the cabin too and we all had a fun dinner laughing and talking to family - a big part of what Sisters Jewelry Design is all about. I've mentioned in earlier posts that Shirley and I started our company as way to spend more time together doing something we love - collecting sea glass and making jewelry.

On Friday afternoon, July 8th, we headed into Bend, a half hour drive from Sunriver, to set up our booth. If festival organizers give you an afternoon before the festival to set up, do it as it will save you time and aggravation on the day of the festival. And we got there right on time, as we'd just had the experience of being late to set up in Ashland (see earlier post). We got to the street, found our spot and pulled the SUV into the lane to unload. It was tricky as the there were booths running down both sides of the road and in the middle. We had a middle space. Needless to say, there was a lot of careful driving between the booths already set up and anxious vendors yelling "don't get to close to my table, etc."

Here is a shot of a bench sculpture that is at the corner where we'd turn in to set up our booth.

And here is a picure of the street where we set up our booth. Our booth is the fourth one down in the middle. This picture gives you and idea how close the booths were. Because, we were in the middle of the street, we set up using only the two sides of the tent that connected with the other tents, so customers could walk through the tent. The walk through idea is good in that no matter which side people walk they can enter from either side. The bad or downside of this type of set up is that often people just cut through your space to get to the other walkway. In the future, if posssible, I'd prefer to have a space on either side and not in the middle. There are pros and cons for either placement.

Here is a shot of Steve looking down the street from our tent.

It was a bright sunny day and it got hotter as the day progressed, which is another reason to worry about where your booth is placed. Sometimes, you don't get to choose where your booth is situated, but if you have the choice take into account - weather, foot traffic, light If you are indoors, you'll notice that people enter and usually turn right so a good spot for your tables would be to the right of the door. We watch the flow of traffic and are still trying to figure this all out. There is psychology behind how people move through a room or down a street. Think long and hard about product placement.

Here is a shot looking through our tent.

As you looked through our tent to the other side you could see a vendor playing a long guitar and selling cd's. I don't know what it is but we can't seem to get away from these music men. This man was nicer, but after two days of listening to his music all day long it got old. The first time, he took a break, I thought great, a little quiet, but then he loaded his cd into a player and we got more music. I don't want to ever hear "Greensleeves," again or "Free Bird." Also crowds would gather in front of his booth blocking the walkway which did little to let traffic into our booth. Here is a picture of my mother Jane and Shirley's husband Pat - in the background you can see the music vendor. Bend was a two day art festival that covered four blocks of art, crafts, stores and food. And the days were long, going until 7 at night. After the first long day and without many sales, we thought about not coming back for Sunday's sale. It had been really hot and really discouraging. As we drove back to the cabin at Sunriver, we talked for ten minutes about quitting , then for the next twenty minutes we talked about why we should go back on Sunday - we were there, we'd paid for two days and sales might get better.

Sunday dawned bright and early. We were out the door by 6:15 and heading into Bend. It was going to be another hot day. After setting up our displays again, we took turns going to Starbucks for coffee. We talked to other vendors and looked at other people's wares. There were some really fine artists at the festival. I wanted to buy a copper salmon sculpture, but Steve pointed out that we hadn't sold enough to cover the cost. I ended up buying a photograph of a river scene in Oregon from the vendor across from us. Then we got down to business. Again, the sun started to beat down without mercy. There were lots of people, but mostly lookey-loos. By lunchtime, we were discouraged again, having made only one sale. Shirley was still smiling, but she was no longer standing. The day trudged on with a few people saying they'd come back. You hear that a lot, but don't count on it. Our boredom was high. We talked Steve into watching the booth and Shirley and I walked the blocks then stopped for an icy blended drink. We ate cookies, we talked on the phone - anything to make the time go faster. Finally, around 4:30 a young woman came into our booth, she'd visited earlier. Well, now she was ready to buy. She bought a sea glass pendant and then her mother arrived and she bought one too. They had barely left the booth when another woman with her daughter came into the booth and started buying and buying and buying. She wanted gifts to give all of her girls and some friends too. She bought pendants and necklaces. She bought more in that last hour than we'd sold Saturday and all of Sunday. She made our day which is why I've titled this piece "Don't Quit." Sometimes, you have to wait to the very end to make sales. And sometimes, those lookey-loos do come back after seeing everything else at the festival. So don't quit when the going gets tough. Sea glass pendants - one in sterling, one in gold filled wire. On top a sea glass necklace with sterling wire wrapped pendant. You can find us on Etsy at ttp://