Trade show wrap-up: The business side of thing

Okay, once we put aside the social aspect of trade shows, there’s business to be done. And being in this kind of trade show means that for several days of the year, hundreds of creative people are all of a sudden having to be jacks-of-all-trades. We who are used to spending our days sewing, painting, drawing, moulding, and generally working with our hands to create something beautiful, now have to be all things at once: savvy entrenpreneurs, persuasive salespeople, lighting technicians, booth designers, trailer drivers, and economists. Yes, economists.

This spring’s show was slower than last year’s, for many of us. We noticed that attendance seemed down on many days (due to the unusually warm weather, or something else?). While most of us can still make a profit after expenses, some don’t do so well, which is heartbreaking, considering all the long hours and the energy that have to go into these shows. After talking to many of my fellow exhibitors, we’ve determined what we believe to be the main reason behind this year’s lower sales, compared to 2009, when we were supposedly still in a recession.

By late spring of last year, some people were saying to themselves, “Well, the recession is still on, but we’re not doing too badly, not as badly as we thought we would. Maybe we can reward ourselves with a few gifts.” But by spring of this year, with the recession having passed and the economy not necessarily that much brighter, some people may be saying to themselves, “The recession is over, but this is how we ended up? We didn’t squeak through with as much as we had hoped. Maybe now is not the time to reward ourselves.” Good theory? Good enough for a bunch of sewing, drawing, painting, pottery-making non-economists.