Tuesday, October 11, 2011
This Saturday was my second time as a vendor at the Ballston Arts & Craft Market. It was a gorgeous fall day (thank goodness - rain and printmaking don't mix!) - perfect for sitting outside. Unfortunately, traffic and sales at this market were pretty slow. I'm not sure why - maybe everyone was out of town for the holiday weekend? Maybe they were all at Taste of DC? Maybe the weather was too nice to waste on an art market and people were out hiking and picking apples and doing outdoorsy things?
It was still a good time though, and I did make sales, and enjoyed chatting with my booth neighbor, potter Amy Manson. Some highlights: We saw Washington Capitals center Mathieu Perreault walk through the market. I thought he looked really familiar, but couldn't place him. I even made eye contact with him while I was trying to figure out who he was. Once he walked by, Larry confirmed his identity. Too bad I wasn't wearing my Caps shirt!
The second highlight was meeting fellow printmaker and blogger Katharine Watson. I had just discovered her blog the week before and was excited to find a local printmaker who was also working full-time as a self-employed artist. It was serendipitous that she happened to be a vendor at Ballston the same day that my shop was there, so that I could meet her in person. I stopped by her booth to chat and admire her beautiful work. Hope to bump into her again soon!
Only one major bummer of the day: My iPhone glitched during my biggest sale and couldn't process the customer's credit card with my Square. D'oh. Luckily, she was really understanding about it and went to the ATM.
My tent set-up and display were really similar to last time. I had four new illustrations for sale this time - I was hoping for more new work, but a couple other projects kept me busy this summer. Based on some lessons learned from the June market, I was able to make some minor changes to make set-up run smoother this time, though I was still grateful for help from the boys in getting everything ready. (It seems no matter how early I get there ahead of time, I'm still not quite set up at the 10am start time.)
I used ratcheting moving straps to hang my tent weights from the tent - this worked so much better than the mess of ropes I used last time. I also purchased fitted tablecloths made specifically for art fair tables. These looked...wrinkly. I also think my tent could use some more color and visual interest. I tend to keep things simple and neutral so that my artwork is the star, but maybe adding a colorful hem to the gray tablecloths and decorating with a few more garlands would spruce the whole thing up.
I was also able to accept credit cards using the Square for iPhone. It worked great (except if your phone craps out - but that was an iPhone issue not a Square issue), it's easy to use, and the fees are minimal - I highly recommend this app and the free card swiper. (Thanks to those of you who suggested it!) And I started using a pretty money belt, which was so much more convenient than dealing with the cash box.
So, I leave this market with mixed feelings. Part of me feels Ugghh, these things are so much work, I'm not sure if I want to do any more and the other part of me now wants to apply to every market in the area. It's just such a gamble as to which markets will be successful and how my work will be received. I'm clearly more successful selling online, but I have to remind myself that I'm still very new at selling in person. Things get easier with each market that I do and I'm definitely planning to do more. Perhaps a holiday show in December and definitely a market or two in 2012. (Check out my Upcoming Shows page for more info.)
Big thanks again to all the friends and family who stopped by to chat and support me and of course to all the lovely customers who came out to the market on Saturday!