Q. I sell handmade crafts in my shop. I thought it might be a good business practice in 2015 to have a weekend “meet and greet” with some of the local artisans and the store’s patrons and curious customers who drop by. If I do this, do I have to pay the craftsperson for his or her time at the store? Do I have to pay them a salary or a daily-expense stipend? How should I handle?
You’re right—this would be good for all involved: your business, the businesses of the makers you bring in, and an educational gift to the folks who come in to watch the demonstrations.
Here’s how I’d set this up. I wouldn’t do it all on the same day. I’d start with a calendar and identify a series of dates over a three-month period. Let’s say five. I’d then plan an artist feature and demonstration to coincide with each of those dates. Then I’d make a list of all the possible invitees. I can’t tell if you mean to include just artists you show or if you mean to include others from the community. I would include some makers whose work I don’t already sell in addition to those already on board. I’d make a short list of five based on what they make; being sure they represent a variety of media.
Each person would be asked to provide a broad selection of his or her work to be sold in the shop for a week or so before and after the demonstration day. These sales are the maker’s payment for participation. The work should arrive a week or so before the actual show date so you can process it and get it displayed. The maker would then show up on the chosen day to demonstrate and talk about the creative process.
I’d then begin to announce this series of in-store events through the media outlets I use. I’d be sure to print a card with all the information and have it in the shop in advance. I’d put them in customers’ bags or hands. A big sign in the window could also promote the events. I would certainly use social media sites to get the word out and would contact the local TV station. This kind of event has appeal and nothing would make me happier than to have the event on TV.
An artist feature is a great way to generate new interest about your shop and the artists you show. Enjoy.
Donald Clark is the author of Making a Living in Crafts and was a partner in Ferrin Gallery for 25 years. In addition to writing, he is currently a consultant to artists, a personal property appraiser, and a collection manager. He also continues to create his constructions that have been shown extensively and collected internationally.