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Winter Holiday Market - The Saga (Read 1,107 times)
 
Vaughn McMillan
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Winter Holiday Market - The Saga
Dec 18th, 2009 at 2:38am
 
Iíve been showing my wares at an indoor market the past few weekends. Although it was a great venue with some excellent values for Christmas shoppers, sales-wise it was a bust. I figured it was time to tell the sordid tale. Sorry for the long post. Thatís just how it is. Wink

This show, dubbed the Winter Holiday Market, was held in a vacant Linens Ďn Things store in Northridge, CA, about 30 minutes from my house. This store is in a strip shopping center across the street from the Northridge Fashion Center, one of the bigger malls in the LA area. The show was (or is being) held every weekend from November 28 through this coming Sunday, December 20. I originally signed up to do just the first two weekends, but ended up doing three. More about that in a minute.

Since I was figuring on people doing gift-buying, I stocked up on lower-end items like pens, bottle stoppers, vases, night lights, and potpourri bowls. I really didnít figure any of the higher end pieces would be likely Christmas gifts in this economy. Ironically, the smaller things cost me the most to produce. I can easily spend $15 on a pen kit, blank, and box whereas a bowl or hollow form costs me nothing more than chainsaw time and sweat. (OK, Iím not including consumables like sandpaper and finishing materials.)

One of the appeals of the Linens Ďn Things building was the fact that most of the store fixtures and shelving were available for the vendors to use. Also, the floor plan has lots of alcoves which make perfect display spaces for typical art and craft vendors. There were only about 20 vendors the first weekend, and a number of empty spaces. As a result, although I paid for a 10í x 10í space, the show organizer told me to feel free to spread out my display. I ended up using more like 15í x 30í when all was said and done. Nicest display Iíve ever had, and the only thing I had to bring in was one table. (Instead of three tables, two shelves, floor mats, a canopy, etc.) Another bonus was that we could leave our merchandise in the building during the week while the market was closed. No schlepping my stuff in and out every night or weekend.

The first weekend, right after Black Friday and all the shopping madness that brings, was dead. One of my fellow vendors counted 58 people past her booth on the first Saturday. I sold a potpourri bowl to one of LOMLís friends and a pen to a neighboring vendor. Sunday was about as slow, and I sold another pen to the vendor neighbor. Without exception, all of the vendors had very weak sales, if any at all.

The second weekend was a bit busier. The head count Saturday was 125, with Sunday about comparable. Still, thatís a virtual ghost town, and only about half the vendors sold anything. Nobody was even approaching making back their $200 per weekend entry fees. I sold a couple more pens to the vendor neighbor.

At the end of the day Sunday, just as I was getting ready to take my losses and pack up my stuff, the show promoter came by and offered me a free weekend if I wanted to stay. (She was scrambling to keep booth spaces filled so the place didnít look like a vacant store. By then, the show was down to about 13 vendors.) I took her up on her offer, figuring I had nothing better to do the next weekend, and the stuff wasnít gonna sell itself sitting in my living room.

The third weekend was no better than the previous two. I was completely skunked Saturday. Sunday I sold a pen and a bottle stopper. Big woop. At the end of the day on the third Sunday, I figured Iíd had enough fun, so I packed up and brought it all home. Iím pretty certain the promoter would have let me stay another weekend for free, but I decided I wanted the last weekend before Christmas to do some other things. Needless to say, I came out in the red on this show. As a consolation, the promoter did tell me that I can have a free space in another show theyíre doing this summer at the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica. The Promenade is a great pedestrian mall with lots of good tourist and local foot traffic. It should be a much more profitable location for trying to sell my kinds of things.

I took a few pics of my display, but they didnít come out worth a darn since the display was pretty spread out. I did shoot some video, but mostly of the individual pieces, not the entire display. Hereís a link to my attempt at edited video. Cecil B. DeMille I'm not. Sorry for the relatively low quality...I was unable to get the higher-resolution version to upload.

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« Last Edit: Dec 18th, 2009 at 3:17am by Vaughn McMillan »  
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Frank Van Atta
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Re: Winter Holiday Market - The Saga
Reply #1 - Dec 18th, 2009 at 11:04am
 
Very impressive display - certainly one of the best I have seen - with a nice variety of beautiful pieces.† Only three reasons I can think of why it ended up so poorly: Bad location; bad timing; or your prices are too high for the clientele.† That doesn't necessarily mean your prices are too high for the pieces, just that they may be more than the customers attracted to this particular venue were willing to spend.† I have seen shows where you couldn't sell a $100 piece if your life depended on it and others just a few miles away in a more affluent area where $500 pieces sold like hotcakes.† Sometimes it's just the breaks, sometimes you need to do a little research to find out what $ level of clientele a particular show draws.

Excellent video, by the way.
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Re: Winter Holiday Market - The Saga
Reply #2 - Dec 18th, 2009 at 11:53am
 
Sorry for your lose Vaughn, I think this was one of your worse shows ever from what you've told us before. It may be that time of year for buying and giving but if most folks are like mama and me, we just don't have the cash to spend with the way things are right now, hang in their, it'll get better with more show's coming I'm sure.

Nice video, I like everything about it, mainly the turn tables and photo's of how it's done.  smiley=thumbsup.gif smiley=thumbsup.gif smiley=thumbsup.gif
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Re: Winter Holiday Market - The Saga
Reply #3 - Dec 18th, 2009 at 12:45pm
 
Great Video Vaughn

You should post that in the video section as too.
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Re: Winter Holiday Market - The Saga
Reply #4 - Dec 18th, 2009 at 1:55pm
 
Vaughn,

Lovely work you've got there. If I had the money I would buy it all, but maybe that's the problem, most people are struggling at the moment financialy. The turntables are a great idea, but if I used them, people would be able to see all the bits at the back that I'm covering up.....Good luck with the indoor Mall you've been offered.
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Re: Winter Holiday Market - The Saga
Reply #5 - Dec 18th, 2009 at 2:59pm
 
Great display.  Lack of sales obviously wasn't due to a lack of quality or showmanship.  Sometimes you can't give away ice water in the middle of the summer.

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Re: Winter Holiday Market - The Saga
Reply #6 - Dec 18th, 2009 at 4:18pm
 
Wow Vaughn, that is tough... beautiful work and I like the turn tables as well. The mirrors are a big plus too.

Best of luck on the freebee you were offered.

Brad
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Vaughn McMillan
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Re: Winter Holiday Market - The Saga
Reply #7 - Dec 18th, 2009 at 4:24pm
 
Thanks for the comments guys.

Frank Van Atta wrote on Dec 18th, 2009 at 11:04am:
Very impressive display - certainly one of the best I have seen - with a nice variety of beautiful pieces.† Only three reasons I can think of why it ended up so poorly: Bad location; bad timing; or your prices are too high for the clientele.† That doesn't necessarily mean your prices are too high for the pieces, just that they may be more than the customers attracted to this particular venue were willing to spend.† I have seen shows where you couldn't sell a $100 piece if your life depended on it and others just a few miles away in a more affluent area where $500 pieces sold like hotcakes.† Sometimes it's just the breaks, sometimes you need to do a little research to find out what $ level of clientele a particular show draws.

Excellent video, by the way.


Good points Frank. In this case I don't know if I was overpriced, because there were hardly any people even looking at the prices on the bottoms of the bowls and hollow forms. The smaller stuff (pens and bottle stoppers, etc) were labeled (and priced from $10 to $35), but when only 6 or 8 people stop at the booth all day, it's hard to move any merchandise.

This was the first time this show had been done, so there was no way to research its past performance or demographic.  bang head
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Re: Winter Holiday Market - The Saga
Reply #8 - Dec 18th, 2009 at 6:17pm
 
Vaughn,
Fantastic pieces you showed. I also love the turntables. Just bad luck.
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Re: Winter Holiday Market - The Saga
Reply #9 - Dec 22nd, 2009 at 5:29pm
 
Vaughn,
I think the low customer turnout was your problem, your work is great. I think a clue is that the store (now empty) could not make it in this location, so a first time craft/art  show probably did not have a chance. Sorry for your $ loss. Good luck next time.
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Re: Winter Holiday Market - The Saga
Reply #10 - Dec 24th, 2009 at 3:11am
 
great video, too bad on the show.
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