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A Good Day in Houston

October 3, 2011

The stars were aligned.  A great combination of circumstances, along with a lot of luck, came together this past Saturday, October 1st, to make the First Saturday Arts Market in Houston the best show we’ve ever had.

Vendors do final tweaking before the show opens

Mitch Cohen, the Market’s promoter and organizer, had done his usual great job of marketing and publicizing the market to the City of Houston.  We arrived early, and were able to drive into the almost empty parking lot and unload the trailer in front of our booth site.  That in itself saves a lot of wear on older backs and muscles.  The weather was beautiful.  We set up during the morning under a clear sky with temperature in the 60s, and it stayed clear and comfortable all day long.

A great corner location

We had a wonderful corner location.  People could not only see the booth clearly coming and going, but they could also step away for some distance and still look at a painting while thinking about a purchase.  And in this economy, even though they loved a painting, it was obvious that almost every buyer thought long and hard before making a decision to buy.  That’s what makes every sale so special these days.

Steve and Sonia Sellers

I also believe we benefitted from a lot of good karma generated by Steve Sellers of tic Jewelers.  I met Steve at the Market a couple of years ago, and we’ve mostly just had the usual short “how’s it going?” kind of conversations.  Steve is a great guy, and after spending all day in the next booth, pouring out positive energy and just plain friendly encouragement, he became more than just a Facebook friend.  I’m looking forward to lots more shows with Steve as a neighbor.

I grew up in Houston, so it’s always a treat when old friends from my youth suddenly appear at the booth to say hello.  David and Linda Zaring dropped by, as did Carolyn Hancock and her husband John.  Mary and Forrest Steagall also showed up and added to their collection of original Ralph Parker art.

View into the front of the booth from the aisle

We set up a completely revamped booth, which I think was a major contribution to the day’s success.  After spending considerable time over the past month re-thinking the layout of the booth walls and the arrangement of the art, we had to do some fast last-minute re-tooling.  The change from an in-line booth to a corner called for some quick adjustments to take advantage of the added visibility.

View into the open side of the booth

We were able to retain the small boutique/gallery flavor and the visual interest by creating an L shaped table arrangement, with the collection of 5x7s arranged above one table and four larger paintings above the other table on the adjacent wall.  The outside corner allowed us to have artwork on the outside of the booth that was visible from a distance.  The tables were covered with our “Table Top Gems”, small pieces ranging from tiny mini paintings to 4×6, all in standup frames suitable for display on shelves, credenzas, and other flat surfaces.  The small tabletop work accomplished its mission.  Sitting below the grouping of 5x7s, the smaller work attracted attention, piqued curiosity, and drew people into the booth.  Sales, however, were a bit different from what we had anticipated.

Two 5x7s that sold

As it turns out, the final total was twelve paintings sold.  I really had expected almost all of our sales to be in the smaller work, the minis, the 4x6s, the 5x7s in the simple black frames.  As it turns out, those accounted for two-thirds of the total pieces sold.  We also sent four 8x10s away to good homes as well.  Here are more of the pieces that sold:

Ohio Barn, 8x10, Gouache

Red Roofs and Weeds, 8x10, Gouache

Summer Creek, 10x8, Gouache

Untitled, 5x7, Gouache

(I have to acknowledge the strength and tenacity of my dear wife and partner, Nell.  On Friday, before we hit the road for Houston, she whacked the back of her hand on a door jamb while carrying a basket of laundry.  We’ve all done that, carrying something oversized through a doorway.  She shrugged it off and went on her way.  On Saturday, her hand continued to hurt, and started to swell.  In spite of that, she, as always, did her share of unloading, setting up, selling, tearing down and reloading the trailer.  On Sunday, the pain and swelling were so bad that, after dropping off the trailer and the dog at home, we went to the emergency room at a local hospital.  After x-rays, the doctor said there appeared to be perhaps a tiny fracture of one of the bones in her hand, or at best a contusion.  She came home with a splint on her hand and wrist, which she has to wear for at least a week, and maybe longer.  Is that a dedicated partner, or what?)

To wrap this up, I’ll just say that, in the past, I have had to simply rationalize poor show results by saying “our buyers just didn’t show up”.  This time, our buyers showed up.  And we were happy to see them.

It was a good day.

11 Comments leave one →
  1. October 4, 2011 8:39 am

    Hi Ralph.
    Well done my friend for the sales. Four of the larger paintings sold, were four of my favourites, I loved them and still do. Sorry to hear about Nell`s hand. She is a good worker and partner it seems. All the best Ralph.

  2. October 4, 2011 9:58 am

    It;s wonderful that you had a great show. Well done.

  3. October 4, 2011 10:28 am

    Great day, weather, neighbors, awesome response from great Patrons !!! I love it when a plan comes together !!!! Hope Nell feels better very soon ! Looking for a repeat in November !

    • October 5, 2011 12:26 pm

      Would love a repeat of this one, Steve! Mitch did say he’d put us in the same spots again, right?

  4. October 4, 2011 9:31 pm

    Ralph & Nell,
    So glad your weekend was worth it! I love your paintings, and am pleased for you! Nell, you are really a “Trooper”! Sorry about your hand, & hope it is already feeling better.

    Margaret Quin

    • October 5, 2011 12:28 pm

      Thanks, Margaret! We should probably stop and tell you we’re leaving every time. Maybe that was good luck!

  5. October 5, 2011 11:26 am

    Ralph & Nell,
    I always look froward to your posts….so sorry about Nell’s injury….hope its well on the mend by now. It’s very exciting to hear that you had a successful sales day….your customers are fortunate folks. I look at your work frequently….and always become inspired.
    I live in East Texas….so if you have a show in Dallas/Ft Worth area…..maybe I can make it and meet ya’ll and enjoy your art …up close.

  6. October 9, 2011 9:16 pm

    Ralph, now this I love to read! Glad y’alls day was a success. A speedy recovery to Nell and see ya next month! Cheers! ~ Mitch

  7. February 8, 2012 1:22 pm

    uhh, what a gem of a mate! And successful sales!

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