Nov 12, 2012


Wait!  Stop!  Before you continue reading, make yourself a cup of coffee or tea, pour yourself a glass of ice tea, or mix up a fruit smoothie, and get comfortable.  This is going to be a long one.


I’ve been debating over writing this blog post, since my show this past Saturday.  I’ve started it, deleted it and started over again, more than once.

I really don’t want to be negative here.  I try to focus on the positive, especially concerning my business and this blog.  At the same time, I try to be real and honest.  And, to be honest, sometimes running one’s own business can be difficult and discouraging.

Every year, for the last 3 years, I’ve participate in a certain show. I had been to the show a few times, as a customer, so when I signed up as a vendor, I felt very certain that I would do well at this show, and for the first two years I did.

This year, however, this particular show was one of the worst shows I have ever participated in.  I’m feeling a little discouraged and very disappointed, right now.  I spent so much time, effort and money preparing for this show.

So, why was the show so bad?  I think it was a combination of factors.  I surmise that there were different organizers this year, and some changed policies.  It was no longer an Art and Craft show, even though it was still advertised as such.  Most shows that I have participated in, the last 4 or 5 years, have had vendors selling Scentsy, Tupperware, Pampered Chef, and so on, which I’m generally okay with.  I still do well at shows where these items are sold.  Of course, I don’t know if I would be okay with it, if I hand made candles. Not only were these type of vendors at this show, but there was more than one of each kind, which I’ve never participated in a show where this was allowed. But, the difference this year were all of the vendors selling cheap, imported items, much like you would expect to find at a flea market.

The most detrimental part of the show, for me, was the vendor across the isle who sold cheap, imported jewelry for $5.  There were big, hot pink, “Everything for $5” signs all over her booth.  The least expensive thing in my booth was $6, and that was for little bezel charms.  So, you can imagine most people's reaction, when they were in my booth, looking at a necklace for $38, and then seeing her signs. I have set up booths at flea markets before and expect this kind of thing there.  I know what I am getting into and I prepare for it. I was blindsided Saturday.  I have never had to deal with this at an Art and Craft show, and I was not prepared for it.  

If I had to guess, I would say there were between 125 and 150 booths at this show.  Maybe, 20 of them were actually handmade, art and craft booths.  The rest were cheap imports or branded, mass produced products.  Most of the customers who attended this show were not buying, and those that were, bought from the import booths.  This is such a drastic change from years past.

On a more positive note, I did sell a few items.  The ones who bought from me, seemed to really appreciate that my items were artisan made, and seemed very frustrated with the decline of the show.

So where does this leave me now?  I don’t have any more shows scheduled for the rest of the year.  In fact, I’ve decided to stop doing shows for the next two or three years.  I let myself get so crazed and stressed the two weeks before a show, that I neglect my home and my family.  My husband is wonderful and pitches in when he can, but between work and school, his schedule is pretty full.  I have my hands full with my Etsy Shop and my Web Shop, and I have the most wonderful customers in the world.  So, although I will miss meeting customers face to face and getting to sell my creations in person, I believe this is the right decision for me, right now.

Now, my focus will be on loading all of my new jewelry and Patchwork Clay Designs into my Web Shop, over the next couple of weeks.  I also have some new charms that I will be listing in my Etsy Shop.

Here is a little preview of what will be available.  Please forgive the pictures.  I’m still working on the best way to photograph the Patchwork Clay Designs.

Have a great week.

Love and Peace,


  1. So sorry to hear about this awfully disappointing experience - I can see why you were so let down. Your work is beautiful and deserves to be showcased in a context where people can appreciate it.
    I am quite new to this whole thing, and earlier this year embarked on a series of fairs at the same venue. We were led to believe it was 'handcrafted' goods only, and it's in a great little town with a lot of indie shops and people. However, the last couple I did, I was in exactly the same position as you - I had a stall right opposite me, twice the size (he was the organiser, go figure!), where he was selling imported tat at really cheap prices, making my jewellery look very expensive. Needless to say, I didn't sell very much.
    I am now very cautious and have held off from doing any more these past 6 months. I think you are probably making a good decision, until you can maybe find somewhere more fitting for your lovely work. Thanks for sharing, I'm sure this will resonate with a lot of folk!

  2. I too had a show like this in October...neon $5 signs all around me. I knew it might be a long day. I agree, some shows just are not meant to be. I am all for trying them once, but it gives me a good feel which ones to avoid next year. I won't give up completely on them, but I am finding art shows and well-establised craft shows with only hand made products are the way I will go in the future. I also like boutique shopping events where it may be a fundraising or guild event. I also have found local galleries to carry my work too.

    Don't get too discouraged! I had a show today where people were ohhh and ahh over the necklaces I had with your items. They loved the double side look of the pendants!

    Your charms are truly one of a kind!

  3. I love your patchwork clay designs!

    I've been having the same issues with shows. This past weekend I attended an art/craft show and sold nothing. But it wasn't just me, there were several that were selling handmade that had no sales. The ones that were making sales were mass made jewelry such as Premier etc, and crocheted items, food, board games, wood turned stuff, Party Lite, and cheaper items. I came home defeated and wondering if I'm in the wrong business.

    I took a break from shows for a year for the same reason. All I can say is to keep trying. Every show I have attended has changed in some way and I think the organizers are trying to keep attendance up by letting in the mass made stuff. Hopefully when the economy rebounds there will be more shows that cater to handmade.

  4. I am so sorry this happened to you. I know how you feel because I have had it happen to me too! They think of their bottom line and forget that we are the ones that make the show special and get people coming back year after year. I always send feedback about what I think of the way things were run and sometimes it helps. I had one show last year that I was invited to and I was the only artisan there, the rest of the stuff was like a garage sale! I dis not do well there. Not even worth the sign up fee. I am getting a tad better at judging which shows I will do well at, but it's still hit and miss. I have signed up for three shows already for next year and am hoping for the best, since that is where I make the most money, never online for me. We love you Martha, and will stay faithful to your treasures!! Good luck taking a break <3

  5. So sorry you had this bad experience...your work is beautiful and you know how silly I am over your charms! and that peace symbol above...will it be for sale? *hint* ;)

    I hope taking a break gives you renewed vigor and in the meantime...keep doing what you are doing here...we are happy to support your beautiful work that inspires us to do beautiful work!