Trade Fair 2

Posted by Lidya Endzo Kun iLLa
I have finally done the trade fair, and have left it until today to do my blog, as I needed a rest afterwards – the weeks leading up to it were busy what with getting the displays ready. Everything looked much better this time, even if I say so myself. I produced some information leaflets about the website and took along some of the art group’s leaflets for the forthcoming Easter exhibition, plus some business cards specially redesigned for the event. I even had a better looking browser to put our paintings for sale in – a birthday present last year.

I had already had a “dress rehearsal” with the displays. I have not used Picasa before, so hope you will be able to view the photo taken at home. If so, you will see from left to right: my husband’s continually changing display of the artists’ paintings on the computer screen; a small stand with some greetings cards of my work. I had two price signs for the cards, a £2.00 one for the morning, and then if nothing had sold (it didn’t), a £1.50 one for the afternoon. There is also a large board in the shape of an artist’s palette, onto which I’d painted wood grain effect, and a framed painting – I took along several and interchanged them through the day. I had also put together an arty yet professional looking outfit for the event, and it looked good on me, but unfortunately it was so cold I had to wear my coat all day, so you couldn’t see it.

This time we had to bring our own tables. I’d had to buy one as our patio table wouldn’t fit in the car. Compared to the previous time, when we had to lug tables from Dobbies outdoor café indoors to use, set up was quick and easy. By 9 am, I was ready for opening to the public, and my husband and son left for a look around Dobbies - and bought my mother’s day presents, which turned out to be a willow tree and cuddly owl!

I noticed that many of the other exhibitors had made more effort with their stalls too. I was pleased that my stall was next to Geoff and Beth Winchcombe (Beth is a poet). They were good company, and I chatted to Geoff as the other exhibitors continued to potter around. After a while I glanced at my watch and realised it was already 10 am and we hadn’t started yet. Our main organiser was unable to attend, so the other organisers and exhibitors shared the task of giving out “goody bags” and encouraging people to go into the disused shop unit where the fair was being held. This was not easy as we were some way from the main entrance. Previously, in November, we had been in a unit by the entrance – much better placed to attract customers. As we were so far off the beaten track, I felt something should have been done to draw attention to the event – anything from some balloons (my idea) to a town crier (Beth’s). There were signs in the window, but the doors were closed as it was so cold and it didn’t look welcoming.

I spent about half an hour handing bags out at the beginning, and stayed about 8 hours altogether. From the outset it was noticeable how much quieter it was this time.

At around 1 pm Maggie and Sue arrived – as for the November event, I hadn’t told them where I would be, as a sort of test to see how easy the event was to find. I watched them arrive and – yes – go straight into the main entrance. Eventually a slightly frazzle duo arrived.

The two massage experts, Tony and Amanda gave treatments, mainly to the other exhibitors, and the man selling pickles seemed to do well. We had a steady stream of visitors through the afternoon, and my hopes were briefly raised when one of the exhibitors expressed an interest in one of my paintings, only to change her mind again. At one point a small child (with good taste) grabbed one my cards and declared she wanted it, only for her dad to determinedly wrestle it from her and put it back on the stand. Sadly, this was the nearest I got to selling anything. Beth sold a book mid afternoon, but became annoyed as it then occurred to her that she’d only sold one and left soon afterwards, and once Tony had left at about 3 pm, everyone else started to do so as well. I myself therefore packed up and left about an hour early, because there didn’t seem much point in staying with only one other exhibitor there (the pickles man).
Unlike the November event, when I’d arrived home feeling excited to see whether any orders had arrived, this time because it had been so quiet, I hadn’t got my hopes up and just did my usual daily check of my e-mails. Yesterday, my web statistics showed that I’d had an extra nine visitors on the day, and two the day after. There were no orders. I can still “spam” people who entered the free draw, but last time only 25 gave permission to be contacted, which I did, and as a result, 5 people looked at the site. I’d recently read a book on website marketing, which told me that you need 500-1000 visits to achieve an order. I therefore suspect that even with better marketing of this event, and better signposting, I would not have achieved anything. This is a pity after I’d put so much into it, but sometimes that’s just the way life goes. I’ve done the best I can with this event now, so it is time to move on and try other things, and of course I am grateful to the organisers for giving me the opportunity.
On the plus side, I will be able to use some of the display material at the art group’s forthcoming exhibition. I also have another card up my sleeve because I have so far held off from advertising, whilst waiting for the recession to go away, and it now has, and I am poised for this next phase.

And perhaps my next posting will be a happier one.

Bye for now

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