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Azalea Trails show ~ Tyler, Texas

March 23, 2009

We did the Azalea Trails show in Tyler, Texas over the weekend, and enjoyed it tremendously..  Didn’t do well sales-wise, but we’re okay about that.  We only sold one painting, but if it hadn’t been for the hotel cost, we would have had a small profit for the show.  As it was, we lost money.  But, in spite of that, we both felt it was a very good, positive experience.  The visitors were wonderful, all very nice, all very complimentary.  We got a ton of traffic in the booth.  People came in, stayed and looked a lot, and asked a lot of questions.  One lady told Nell my prices were too low, but she didn’t buy anything, so I guess she meant for everybody but her.


Aside from lack of sales, there were only two real negatives for us.  There were kids’ activities set up in the center of the park, one of which was a rock climbing thing.  When a climber reached the top, they hit a button that made a loud whistle sound.  We learned to ignore that, but by Sunday afternoon, they discovered that if they held the button down, they got car alarm sounds, which continued as long as they held down the button.  It got a bit obnoxious, and made it difficult to carry on a conversation with potential buyers.  The other negative was the two ladies behind us who, by Sunday afternoon, were shouting “30 percent off!  Everything’s discounted!”, like hawkers in a circus midway.  Sadly, during breakdown, I actually saw one of them toss some of the “crafts” that didn’t sell into a trash barrel.  So much for pride of workmanship.


Regarding my own work, it appears that one of my roles in life now will be to single-handedly educate the world about gouache.  I need to make a couple of small signs that say “It’s pronounced GWASH”, because that was the most asked question  The second question was “What is it?”.


Tyler people made us feel very welcome.  In fact, one of the things that struck us was how many people thanked US as they left the booth.


I need to give credit to my friend, Mary Grace, a photographer and photoshop whiz, who printed some beautiful postcard handouts for me.


I met the mom of one of my former co-workers.  She’s very active in the Tyler art community, and we knew of each other, but had never met.  Aside from being so sweet, she introduced me to a few people, and we had quite a number of art league members who came in to say hello, all of them saying that Jo had told them I was there, and by the end of the day Saturday, they all seemed to already know about the demo.  (I got invited to do a demonstration for the Tyler local art club on May 21st.)


After the show in Austin a couple of weeks ago, we discovered that everything does fit into the Trailblazer, so we’ll probably forego getting a trailer until it makes sense economically.  It’s a bit of a jigsaw puzzle, but it does work.  Setup wasn’t bad… we learned a bit more this trip.  We got the tent set up on Friday night, mostly in the dark, and then did the rest on Saturday morning.  It did take us two hours, but we put up the last item exactly at show time.  We think we can trim the setup time a lot with experience.  We’ve already found a few shortcuts for next time.  Break down took us about an hour and a half, but we moved slowly because another exhibitor was supposed to come buy a painting, and then changed her mind, but didn’t let us know.  We decided that we won’t wait for someone like that again.


In addition to the sandbag weights that came with the tent, I had made some concrete weights with big coffee cans.  We didn’t use them on Saturday, but attached them before shutting down Saturday evening.  Good thing.  We got some pretty good wind Sunday afternoon, which probably slowed the breakdown a bit as well.  But the tent stood firm.


Nell and I have been discussing framing.  Even though we got a couple of nice comments about the framing, Nell’s about got me convinced that it would make more sense to use only one or two frame styles for everything.  I also read an article this morning with that recommendation on  When I look at the photos, I can see where it might give a more cohesive appearance.  If we can find some nice, simple frames that we can buy in bulk at a reasonable price, it would sure simplify things.  I’d be interested in comments anyone has on the subject.


It’s been eighteen years since we did these shows, and we’ve discovered some muscles today that we forgot we had.  But we both agreed on the way home that we would do this one again.






8 Comments leave one →
  1. March 25, 2009 12:32 pm

    Sounds like you had fun despite not making any money. That is typical among my artist friend’s (one of the reasons I haven’t participated in such a venue). I love your work. If you didn’t sell enough to make it worth it financially then I am sure my decision not to go to the time, trouble, and expense was sound. I hope one day to be near as good as you are.

    • March 25, 2009 1:22 pm

      Lisa, thanks for the very nice compliment. There is no question the arts & crafts shows are not for everyone. Nell and I happen to enjoy the atmosphere and meeting the people who pass through. We’re in this for the long haul, so we don’t expect to make much for awhile. But it’s a starting point for us, and over time, we’ll find the shows that are profitable for us. The economy plays a large role as well right now, but we’re optimistic, and believe that will eventually turn around. Doing the less expensive shows (booth fee was $50) is a financial decision for us at the moment, but if we can do okay, we’ll continue to do them because they’re fun for us. The larger, strictly art shows will come with time. Of course it is a business, and we ultimately have to show a profit. But we had a lot of potential buyers visit the booth, so I believe this show in Tyler was a good door opener for us in that part of the state. In that respect, we see it as a good marketing tool. That’s something to think about.

  2. March 26, 2009 12:40 am

    That’s quite a setup you got there, Ralph. Glad you’re getting into the spirit of things at least and enjoying it all.

    Tyler’s a fun place. They’ve got a nice little museum there too.

    Along with your “GWASH” card, maybe you could add “CAY-SEEN” for me too? 🙂

    • March 26, 2009 3:41 am

      Thanks David. It’s a lot of work, but we are enjoying it tremendously. We’ve got another one like this at the Granbury, TX convention center in a couple of weeks, and then what appears to be a mostly art show down in Houston the first Saturday in May. We’re looking forward to going back to Tyler. We got a really good reception there. Hadn’t thought about “CAY-SEEN”. I wonder if the “egg tempura” folks have to explain it’s not a food?

  3. March 30, 2009 3:33 am

    Ralph it strikes me you have to many paintings available… they are crowded to close and my over all feeling is that makes them harder to see. Less is more it will take you less time to set up and give you more room in the car. No matter where you go you could never sell more than a dozen anyway. You can keep some in reserve in the truck if you need to fill spots, but take half that many next time. It will make the ones you have more special.

    • March 30, 2009 6:21 pm

      Bill, I’ve been looking at the photos, and thinking about that. One never knows how much to put up at a show, but I kind of felt the same way. It’s just too much, a bit overwhelming. We’re going to follow your advice and put less up at a show we’re doing this coming weekend. We’ll take some pics and post them next week. As always, I really appreciate your advice.

  4. April 17, 2009 3:49 pm

    Hi Ralph,
    I think your frames look very good with the images inside them. The entire display look just great. I agree with Bill that it has a crowded look. Linda and I did the same thing when we started showing with our canopy. Now I don’t take as much which makes setup & takedown much easier…also gives the eye some room to breath.
    Your panels are super nice. Really presents the art well…so many familiar pieces! You guys are making a great showing with your work Ralph. Once the economy picks up a bit we’ll all see sales happen again. I’d say Good Luck here but you are not in need of that. Take care buddy!

    • April 17, 2009 9:25 pm

      Hey Ron, thanks for looking in. We cut the number displayed way back for the last show in Granbury. That show was a dud. Low traffic, no sales, lots of jewelry… but again, we learned a lot. Thanks, my friend.

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