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Holiday Markets, are they worth it?

Tiffany O'Neill

Tis the season where artists all throughout, start getting applications to participate in holiday markets and shows.  The applications slowly start trickling in through your email, facebook, and phone calls.  The dreaded question of YES or NO, always weighs on each and everyone of us. 

I want to start a discussion about these holiday markets because I had a discussion with some friends last night about this topic, and one of the first posts I saw this morning was the application for the Cleveland Flea.  I got really excited about the potential of participating in the show for the first time, and could not wait to read the rules and regulations.  Then I stumbled upon the cost....$350!!! Excuse me? What did I just read?  $350..think about it, $350.  I literally thought it was a typo when I read that, but sadly it was not a typo.  So the discussion begins... 

I have participated in a handful of festivals and show in my day, and I have many mixed emotions about them.  As a business woman, I understand that nothing in life is free, and nothing comes to those that don't bust their butts for it.  Having a fee to a show is a requirement, for reasons of permits, electricity, law enforcement, and marketing, I GET IT.  But $350 per artist?  That better be some fancy marketing.  

The Cleveland Flea is a very large show, and they have over 100 vendors at each show so there is a lot of moving parts, and a good variety.  But I want to know, is it worth it for an artist of my size (small) to shell out that much money.  Lets just break it down in numbers.  

  • Fee: $350
  • Inventory: $300
  • Marketing: $50
  • Total: $700

Let's just make it simple, I am estimating that it would cost me approximately $700 to get my foot in the door to attempt to make a sale.  I didn't factor in the cost of my time because I can work for free... (Don't tell my husband that I said that.)  The average cost of my product is $23.  I would have to make 31 sales in order to break even, before I even starting thinking about a profit.  That is 3 sales an hour, so every 20 minutes I would need to make a sale.  Talk about HUSTLE!  

And that is if the weather cooperates...don't get me started on Cleveland weather.  

I know what you are thinking, I can raise my prices for the show, to try to help those numbers.  Ok, would you pay $35 for a set of coasters?  OR $50 for a bottle opener? It would be an interesting experiment, but I don't know if that is a risk I am willing to take.

So is it worth it?  I don't know, I am personally leaning toward NO.  31 sales is a lot of work at shows like this.  So I think I have come to my conclusion that I unfortunately will not be participating in the Cleveland Flea this year.

I have already begun researching other markets in the area, there are other ones, and maybe I will participate in those.  I know the Cleveland Bazaar  shows only costs $75-$150 to participate, so that helps some what.  

I want to hear your opinions!!!  

What are your opinions on the holiday market scene in Cleveland?  Have you participated in one as an artist?  Do you attend markets in the holiday season, and if so, do you purchase gifts while you are there?  

I think this is a good discussion, about what it takes for an artist to make it in this industry.  I am always learning about this process and I am learning something new every day.  

Feel free to comment below or shoot me an email with your thoughts about this post! I am here to listen! 

Kiss Kiss,

Tiff

 


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