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Recap of First Saturday Arts Market October show

October 13, 2009

Note for newbies to the art festival business:  find a way for the tent to come out first and go in last.  This show on October 3rd ended up as a wet one.  Most of the day was just overcast and threatening.  Just enough to keep the crowd home.  And it ended with rain.  It was slow enough to allow me to spend some time listening to Kenneth Scott do some guitar work.  The guy has magic fingers.  Of course, I would rather have been trapped in the booth by throngs of people eager to buy art.

We did have sales, enough to make it a profitable trip to Houston again, and keep us in the black for the 2009 shows.  Not making a living at this yet, but we are having just enough success to make it worthwhile for us personally.  I have mentioned that, with kids living in Houston, we do save the cost of accomodations, right?

When I did a few snow scenes earlier in the year, I wasn’t sure whether they would sell.  As it has turned out, almost all of them have sold.  Some sold in Ohio, but some have also sold in Houston.  A very nice lady who lives not far from the First Saturday venue has visited us at the show before, and she spent some time at this one studying one of the snow scenes.  As we were packing up after closing time, she returned, and wanted that picture.  Since all the artwork was packed, she was willing to wait until next month.  But we like to think of ourselves as professionals, so we took the time to dig that painting out from the bottom, so she could take it home with her right then.  One of the things we’re trying to be mindful of is that the act of painting is about us and the art.  The act of selling is about the buyer.  When in business mode, our focus should be on the buyer’s convenience, not ours.

Now, about the rain… and the tent.  I’m always a bit nervous on potential rain days, worried that we will have to set up in the rain.  The first thing that has to go up at any show is the tent, of course, but it’s vital on a rain day to get that tent out first without unpacking everything else and having it exposed to the weather.  The tent is the heaviest part of our show equipment.  It’s too heavy to put on top of anything else, and as a result, it has to go on the bottom.  Teardown at this show was the first time we’ve torn down in actual rain.

You can get everything in tubs, wrap things that won’t fit in tubs (very large trash bags work for this), and break down the walls, all the while keeping everything under the tent.  But eventually, the tent has to come down.  And it has to go in before a lot of other things, which means large artwork, carpet-covered panels, etc. have to sit exposed while the tent gets taken down, bagged, and put into the vehicle.  Our solution to this will be a long wood box, just big enough for the tent, that will go into the back of the vehicle when we go to shows.  The box should be sturdy enough to allow anything at all to be stacked on top of it.  This will allow us to pull the tent out before unloading anything else, and more importantly, will allow us to pack everything during teardown while the tent stays up as shelter.  Then, after everything else is loaded, we’ll take down the tent and slide it into the box as the last item of business.  Not only will this help in rainy situations, but will allow us to have shade longer on those hot summer days as well.

Another lesson learned:  always open the tent up the next day after a rainy show and let it air dry.  Trust me, you don’t want the only tent in a show that isn’t pure white.

So.  A good show?  Yep.  We could have done better, and we think we would have if the weather had cooperated, but we’re still on track, doing what we love to do, and selling some paintings.  Nothing to complain about here.  Nell and I have a saying that we toss out when things get interesting or we face a new challenge:  “just another one of life’s little adventures”.  That attitude has served us well.

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