Marketing and Selling: Part 2
For several years, I continued to do art shows and do what could be called drive- by-selling. That is driving around looking for shops to sell my work. It took a great deal of time and energy to do both and going out of town to do an art show was hard on my family even though we could turn it into family leisure time if we added an extra day. For example, if we did a show in Corpus Christi, we could then stay an extra day at the beach. This was the lifestyle of many artist and craftsmen during that time, working during the week and going out to do shows on the weekend. Some that had workshops that could be packed in a trailer, such as jewelers or painters would line up shows around the country and travel for weeks at a time working in campgrounds during the week. But as my children started school this became more complicated, plus being out of town on the weekend detracted from our involvement in church and other social activities.
As the business grew, I needed to find other ways to locate shops to sell to. This seemed the best avenue since it was easier than going out to do shows every weekend. There were a couple of options: one was to find a sales rep that covered a territory and had intimate knowledge of the shop in that area. The problem with sales reps was the commission they charged typically was 15% to 20%. The other option and the one I chose was to lease space at the Dallas Gift Show. The gift show had its own problems. First, it was hard to get space. The minimum amount of space you could lease was 100 square feet, which was what most companies leased. It was a great time for the Dallas Gift Show, they had more people with product they wanted to sell than they had space to rent. Plus, buyers came from all 50 states to shop the Dallas Gift Market.
I never found a sales rep that I felt understood my product or was willing to spend the time and energy that it would take to sell my work so I proceeded to try to lease booth space at the Dallas Gift Market. This, unfortunately, was easier said than done. Demand was so high for booth space you had to put your name on a list and wait for someone to drop out.
A Way In
It was not long until the people that ran the show came up with an alternative. They had unused space on the upper floors of the World Trade Center, so they arranged to have booths set up in that space. It got you into the show, but you were displaying out of the traffic flow.