“It is not going to rain,” said my husband Josh. Clearly, he is not a meteorologist, being so definitive in his weather prediction. I admired his optimism. We have had a very rainy fall open market season, with pouring rain the last three Sundays we pitched our tent.
Needless to say, it did rain. And at times the wind blew so hard Josh had to stand in the middle of the tent and hold it down. Yes, we had at least 25 pounds of weights on each tent post, but at a certain point it doesn’t matter. Incidentally, at our first craft show this year, a two-day affair, we encountered a “microburst” which is similar to a tornado, characterized by a quick burst of high winds. We saw it coming at about 3 pm of the first afternoon and we packed in a hurry, taking all our products with us. Many venders left everything. We arrived the next morning to discover that the tent across from us, which sold knitted hats and accessories, was completely blown away and most of the hats were up in the surrounding trees. Many other tents had been blown into the trees as well.
We started the season with a tornado and ended with a hurricane! When you factor in the time it takes to do a show, the incidental costs such as food, gas, advertising, etc., the cost of the space, and then the potential of loss due to weather or other uncontrollable events (earlier this year we were at a market where a sick dog pooped in the middle of an aisle, impacting four vender booths – it was one stinky mess!) one wonders if it is a viable way to make a living. Posing this question to other craft artists, musing on the revenue one should expect to bring in at a show, I got this response: Back in the 1990’s, if your expenses totaled only 10% of sales, then you’re in good shape (i.e. booth cost $100, sales were $1000). Nowadays, it’s more like 25% (booth cost $100, sales $400). Ofcourse, it depends on the state of the economy, how the work fits with the aesthetic of the show, the price point of the work as well as the size and location of the show. And, I know you can’t forget about post-show sales. People will remember you, even if they aren’t ready to buy at the show. Nonetheless, if you do the math and you gross $400 in one day, subtract for the booth, overhead, cost of materials, etc. – you make roughly $200 for about 10 hours of work at the show, to say nothing of the work it took to create the products. Wow.
A few weeks ago we finally watched the movie Singin In The Rain. We loved it, our kids loved it, and as we stood in the rain and wind, trying to be happy, we channeled Gene Kelly and sang the title song. I think I will put it on right now… (Actually I am going to find Kelly Clarkston so I can listen to What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. After that I might put on Bon Jovi Its My Life.) Integrity ! Always, Integrity !