Discouraging Accounting

I’m closing out my accounting on recent in-person events, and it’s honestly a little discouraging — given the booth cost ($125) and that I paid a staffer to work a few hours of the What’s Blooming fair, with sales of $182, I think we actually lost money on that one.

Worse, that’s just counting gross sales, not counting cost of supplies or counting my time for making products or working the fair (which was probably at least 10 hours, between set-up, working, breakdown, put away). To make such an event actually worthwhile, I’d need to do more like $500 – $750 in sales, I think.

The big issue there was attendance — lots of the people who walked past stopped, and most people who stopped actually bought something. So I think people do like what I’m making?

But it was raining for almost the whole event, sadly, and a lot of people are still cautious about doing large events, even outdoors. So foot traffic was VERY low. Would I do it this fair again next year? Maybe, but I’d also plan to tailor what I’m selling to small children and parents of small children, because that’s most of the population of the neighborhood right around there, I think, and most of the people who did walk through.

On the plus side, I bought a nice tent a while back, and it worked beautifully for this, even in the rain, so that’s good to know. I had enough folding tables and display supplies on hand, so I wouldn’t need to invest in much more to do a good job here.

The only big thing that I’m missing is some kind of signage — I need to put it on the to-do list to get done before doing another arts fair, to make a Serendib House sign of some kind, either something to hang at the back of the tent, or a freestanding one (or both).

I’d love to hear more from other local artists about what art fairs you do and recommend! I’m mostly looking to break even on supply and my time costs for these, not turn a huge profit, but I’d prefer not to *lose* money.

WisCon, although also being much lower on attendance than normal, did somewhat better by me — the art show (which takes 5%) did $183.35 gross sales, which is fine. I had a dealer’s table too ($30 fee), $155 in gross sales. I suspect if they’d had full attendance and no COVID concerns, sales would have been double that.

I probably wouldn’t do the dealer’s table again in the same way — the plan was for it to be more of a SLF small press co-op dealer’s table, so we’d be presenting books from multiple authors and none of my non-book items.

But I was running out of time right before Wiscon, and didn’t quite manage to get the small press co-op up and running again; that’s a goal for before next year, because I’d definitely like to have it set up then. We really need to find a volunteer to run the co-op, though, or ideally a few of them, so that’s on the task list. (If you’re interested, let me know.)

Big thanks to Jackie Monkiewicz, Kel Bachus, and Dan Percival, who volunteered to help staff the table; I couldn’t have done it without them, esp. since art show and dealer’s room breakdown are at the same time.

I forgot to pack my big SLF banner which normally goes over the front of the table (I *think* it’s in the basement, need to check), AND I ran out of time for printing membership brochures, so kind of a SLF failure all around, sigh. Oh well; will try to do better next year! I do like the space tablecloth.

And on the plus side, lots of people bought items of mine that they will hopefully really enjoy. The little girl who bought a resin space necklace was THRILLED with it. 🙂

Sometime in the next few weeks, I’ll unpack the remaining stock of scarves and soaps and jewelry and start adding it to our online store. Will post as I do, so keep an eye out if interested.

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