Success at My First Art Festival of the Season.

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Blog entry by alexsutula posted 06-17-2010 05:48 AM 1939 reads 0 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This past weekend I had a booth at the Art by the Falls art festival in Chagrin Falls, OH (a fancy-paints suburb of Cleveland). I busted ass working 14 hour days for the two weeks prior to the art festival making benches, plant stands, boxes, and tying up other business related loose ends with the hopes of getting a good idea whether or not I can get a start traveling the art show circuit.

My application for receiving credit card payments went through at 9:30 AM the first day of the show. And boy am I glade that happened in time for the show.

The weather was extremely hot and humid and it drizzled on and off the first day, needless to say it wasn’t the best environment for furniture.

The people were pleantiful and the compliments flowed, but the business was absent. Until an older woman (60-70) walked in with her daughter and expressed deep interest (like everyone else) in one of my benches. She said that she “would be back the next day if she still wanted it”. They walked out of my booth. About 5 min later they came back and said “we made it 3 booths down and decided we really wanted it”. BOOM! $591.47 (tax included) in my newly opened business bank account. That paid for the booth fee, application fee, tent, some materials, and travel. I am in the black!

Nothing happened the rest of the day other than more nice compliments and pleasant conversations with patrons. Until right before the festival was closing down for the night, a volunteer came up and gave me a check for $75 and 3rd place ribbon for 3-D sculpture. That really got my spirits up and ended the day on a high note.

The next day was more pleasant, weather wise, even though it had thunder stormed the night before and all my furniture was left there over night (not much of an option). Sunday started out pretty much the same way Saturday did, not much in the ways of business. Then a Husband of another exhibitor stopped by and dropped off a security deposit to commission a custom designed bench. 1 hour later a woman who was there the day before must have slept on it, came back and bought a plant stand ($215 please), thank you.

Shortly after another woman who said she would be back the next day actually came back and bought a bench. It took a little selling on my part to seal the deal. She wanted to put in in front of her window but was unsure if she liked the height of the armrests. This could have been a complete deal breaker. I came up with the solution for her “to go ahead and buy this bench now, put in where you want it and let it sit for a week. If you still feel like you want a custom dimensioned bench, I will take this one back and build you another one”. That was the first time I really felt like I sold a product and closed a customer.

I sold another small “stash” box for $10 and that was it in terms of money generated that weekend. But, I feel confident I will have at least 1 or 2 custom orders from the festival. And that is where I believe the money will be.

I realize I am not exactly making the big bucks, but it is not a bad spot to grow from. I have to remember that I can have shows where I don’t make a dime and others can make my month. I guess it only mattes where I am at the end of the year.

With all money aside, I met half a dozen amazing artists exhibiting their work that weekend. These people were kind, talented, and eager to share their experiences and wisdom with me to help a young artist succeed in his craft. I know I will be keeping in close contact with these individuals over the course of my career and I am excited to see what the future holds for me.

My next art show will be at Boston Mills in Ohio June 25th -27th if anyone will be in the area stop by my both and buy something, JK.

It is nice to be able to buy materials with money generated from woodworking.

Thanks for reading,

-- You can't stand apart unless you're prepared to stand alone. Alex, Cleveland

11 comments so far

View scrappy's profile


3507 posts in 4927 days

#1 posted 06-17-2010 08:25 AM

Congrats on a successful weekend!


-- Scrap Wood's the best...the projects are smaller, and so is the mess!

View ellen35's profile


2750 posts in 4929 days

#2 posted 06-17-2010 12:39 PM

I love stories like this… they encourage us all.
I sell at about 3-4 artisan’s fairs a year (just started last year) and the contacts I made netted me some wood money. My boards and boxes are much less $$ than your items but it is really nice to be paying for the wood and some of the tools out of my proceeds and not my day job paycheck!
People who exhibit at these things are great .. I got 2 additional venues to display/sell at from 2 people I met there.
Good luck on this… it is great fun!

-- "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." Voltaire

View blockhead's profile


1475 posts in 4805 days

#3 posted 06-17-2010 01:03 PM

That’s a very encouraging start indeed. To cover your your expenses with a little extra leftover in the first day is a wonderful way to start the festival. Congrats and much luck with future fairs.

-- Brad, Oregon- The things that come to those who wait, may be the things left by those who got there first.

View Mary Anne's profile

Mary Anne

1058 posts in 4705 days

#4 posted 06-17-2010 01:55 PM

Congratulations on on your successful start. Thanks for sharing it with us. It is nice to read LJ success stories.

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


24948 posts in 5172 days

#5 posted 06-17-2010 03:22 PM

Glad to hear a success story these days! :-))

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View tyskkvinna's profile


1310 posts in 4482 days

#6 posted 06-17-2010 03:53 PM

you have to start somewhere – this is great! :)

Custom orders is also about 80% of my income. People like looking at the “stock” inventory, but then always want something made just for them. I don’t mind.

-- Lis - Michigan - -

View mtnwild's profile


4865 posts in 5024 days

#7 posted 06-17-2010 04:25 PM

Congratulations, sounds fun.

You did not mention the response you received from your boxes. Maybe you did not sell any or maybe you did. Would like to hear how everyone liked the boxes. Thanks….............

-- mtnwild (Jack), It's not what you see, it's how you see it.

View majeagle1's profile


1429 posts in 4993 days

#8 posted 06-17-2010 05:24 PM

Congratulations as well….......... this is a fantastic start for you.
My best wishes for continued success with your shows!

Like Jack, how about your boxes? Did you have any of those up for sale?

-- Gene, Majestic Eagle Woodworks,,

View alexsutula's profile


96 posts in 4550 days

#9 posted 06-17-2010 06:11 PM

everyone loved the boxes, unfortunately no one bought one. I had them priced at $200 the first day and $150 the second day. I will have to play around with the price I feel like and I will be carrying them around with me for a little while. I did have a gentleman who owns a jewelry store ask if I was interested in selling them through his store, hell yeah I would. He took my information and I am awaiting his call, I hope he remembers. In heinz sight I should have taken his information as well.

-- You can't stand apart unless you're prepared to stand alone. Alex, Cleveland

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6883 posts in 5476 days

#10 posted 01-07-2011 06:50 PM

Hi Alex,

That’s great!

I know this is very late, but I’m glad to hear you had a successful weekend.


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View BarbS's profile


2434 posts in 5582 days

#11 posted 01-07-2011 09:26 PM

I would call that a very successful weekend, and for your first one, it must be quite encouraging. Good luck with future venues. in today’s economy, I think you’re doing Wonderfully to make even a small profit at such a show. That’s good news!


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