Every year after a big show (Tucson, Bead and Button, BeadFest, etc.) there is talk about how sales went and whether to do the show again, the promoter, location, marketing, etc. So I thought I’d give my take on it. Remember, this is only my experience and I am very new to the bead show game. Everyone’s experience is different, but I will tell you what worked for me, what didn’t, what I might do differently, etc. So here goes, in no particular order…
First, know your show promoter. This is especially important if you’re new to the game. (I use the word ‘game’ lightly…it’s not a game at all…it’s serious business). I watched shows and listened to feedback for years before I started doing shows. One thing I heard people talk about is the show promoter. Would you believe that there are promoters out there that just want to make a buck so they scrimp on advertising, cram in as many vendors as possible, regardless of what they’re selling and how it effects exhibitors? Gasp. A good promoter, in my opinion looks out for his exhibitors. After all, we’re the one that pays their paycheck, not the buyers. While we do need to have paying customers there, if the exhibitors aren’t happy, they won’t come back and the show will fail in the long run.
Anyway, research your promoter. How much adertising do they do? When and where do they do it? What kind of signage do they have? Do they care what the mix of vendors are? Do they allowed imported items? Do they jury? What is parking like at the venue? Are they artists or previous show vendors themselves? Talk to other past vendors about their experience. Most people probably won’t tell you a dollar amount of what they brought in but they will give you an overall experience report. See how many return exhibitors there are.
As you’ve read in my posts before, Lewis Wilson of Crystal Myths (and his wife Cathy and daugher Jennifer) are top notch. Their primary focus is the exhibitor and even when something can be related as a complaint, they practically have it taken care of it before they even walk away from you. There is a reason why their shows are full with waiting lists.
Do not underestimate the power of a good (or bad) promoter. It doesn’t matter how good your art is…if customers can’t find you or are put off by parking, dirty bathrooms, etc, it won’t matter. If you have cranky people around you because they’re not being treated right or are unhappy about something the show promoter should have taken care of, customers will not come back next year.