Two weeks ago I took my family to Lake Tahoe where I was a vendor at the South Lake Tahoe Fine Art Festival. The weekend was full of firsts for me.
- My fist time in Tahoe
- My first out of state show
- My first time doing an “art festival”
I was pretty nervous about the whole thing, hauling my whole display and my whole family on a 10 hour drive to do a show I hadn’t done before not knowing if I would make any money or anything was a risk. But, mostly I just hoped I would make enough to at least off set the cost of the trip and we would have a fun family vacation.
So, because I like to do the “what did I learn?” exercise, here it is:
- Dirt is dirty, even if there is a shower included. Unfortunately, I didn’t know I was accepted into the show with enough notice to take advantage of our resort community membership and the accommodations that were still available were not exactly affordable. My husband suggested we camp and in a moment of weakness I agreed because the campground he found had showers and was across the street from the lake. I like camping when that is the activity. But camping when you are in another state and need to be presentable is complicated. It lends itself to questions like these: How do you charge your phone, which you need to accept credit cards at the show without power? How do you stay clean even if the showers are nice when your floor is made of dirt and your stove is a fire pit? How do you have energy to sit in a booth all day when you are sleeping (or not sleeping) on the ground?
- Art Festivals are my kind of show. In the past I have typically sold at craft fairs and trade shows. Trade shows are difficult for me because there are people there selling jewelry mass produced in China. I can’t compete price-wise with those booths, nor do I want to. The big difference between art fests and craft fairs in my limited experience, is the price for goods being sold. At art fests many vendors have nothing in their booth less than $500. That price point and the clientele that it brings puts my jewelry in a better light.
- Art festivals located on the street of a tourist spot are a bonus. Now, I told you this is my first Art Fest so my experience is limited, but it was nice to have tourists with money burning a hole in their pocket constantly walking by my booth.
- It isn’t over till the fat lady sings. Ten minutes before the end of the last day of the show I jokingly said to my 14 year old daughter, “Ok, you have 10 minutes, make us another hundred dollars.” Ten minutes later when I suggested we pack it up, she said, “No, we have to sell $100!” One minute later we were swarmed with people, while I was working with one woman who wanted to get her first toe ring (it took me about 15 minutes to make that $15 sale) my daughter made $85. Then as quickly as they had come, they were all gone. She was beside herself with excitement that we had actually done it. Actually every few days she brings it up again. And I have to agree with her, it was cool.
- We need to get the kids to the beach…. any beach…. more often. My children loved the lake The first day while I was at my show the two kids and my husband went in up to their necks. These beach deprived kids will take whatever they can get. The second day of the show was cold and stormy. They stayed at the show with me the whole day because they thought it would be too depressing to be at the beach in the cold. When I got done we all went to the beach to barbecue and they found the water to be warm and went in up to their knees in their jeans.
- If you are going to plan a vacation around selling at a festival, give yourself one extra day just to relax. We had the evenings but it wasn’t enough, I would have liked to have one more day to just enjoy the vacation. My 14yr old loves working my booth and even sells stuff when I leave her in charge. There was a trailhead 2 blocks from the show, so my husband and I left her in charge and did a lovely one hour hike in the middle of the day. At least we had that.
- Why drive when you can fly? Even a 10 hour drive is too long. Then you get home more tired than when you left. Next time I would fly.
- If you sell enough to pay for the vacation, you get a vacation for free. Overall it was a great weekend. The kids got to swim. My husband got away from work for a few days. We got to try out our new tent. And we got to see Tahoe, which is magnificent. My daughter is already planning our next art fest vacation.