As I look back, I notice that the significant changes that I have made in my approach to marketing and selling my pottery have occurred about every 10 years. These changes were often precipitated by changes in the economy. Usually it was tied to an economic downturn that happened at the end of the decade.
There was a downturn at the end of the 1970’s that caused me to look for a more economical way to show my wares to shop owners. Another downturn in Texas at the end of the 1980’s caused me to look at wholesale shows outside of Texas.
Considering other shows:
My first excursion outside of Texas was to look at the Atlanta Gift Show. I have a long history with Georgia and Atlanta. My father was born and raised in southeast Georgia and he hitchhiked to Texas when he was 19 or 20. We traveled to Georgia to visit every other summer when I was growing up. This included visiting relatives in Atlanta and Gainesville, so Atlanta was familiar to me. It also didn’t have some of the draw backs of the shows in the northeast like the Philly handmade show or the New York Gift show.
Atlanta was easier to do than New York or Philadelphia:
Atlanta was a long day’s drive from San Antonio, whereas the booth would need to be shipped to New York and Philly. Also, I had heard about problems dealing with the Unions in both of those cities. The Unions wouldn’t let you set up your own booth unless you paid a union carpenter to “assist”. I didn’t need someone to setup my booth for me and I certainly was not interested in hiring a carpenter to stand and watch as I assembled my display. It was and is my tendency to resist that type of corruption. Sometime later the show management in those cities paid the carpenters union a flat fee which satisfied the obligation.
After flying to Atlanta to investigate, I decided to do the show which, like all the other shows, was held twice a year February and July. There was an initiation time in which your booth was in a less traveled part of the market center before getting into the preferred area for temporary exhibitors, but this did not seem as draconian as the Dallas show. One problem with the Atlanta show was it seemed more like a rabbits’ warren with all its twist, turns and multiple floors in multiple buildings. This made it hard to find your way around or your way back to a booth and was a particular problem to the directionally challenged buyer.
For many years the Dallas show provided all the business that I need and I at first felt I need to continue to do that show to stay in contact with those customers. Initially, I tried to do both the Dallas show and the Atlanta show. Since they were held at the same time, I had to send a man that worked for me to do the Dallas show. Eventually, I dropped the Dallas show because what used to be a national show became a regional show and many of the smaller shops in towns around Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and New Mexico didn’t make it during the economic downturn at the end if the 1980’s. In the time that I was doing the market shows Dallas never returned to size it was when I first did the show.
Atlanta Paid Off:
The Atlanta show brought in buyers from all over the southeast with many new shops in North Carolina which became second only to Texas in the number of shops that handled my work.