Sunday, April 15, 2012

Big Backyard and Cottage Show - Was it worth it?

Just finished exhibiting at the show. It was my first real show of its kind where I featured my own furniture. I spoke to hundreds of people, literally, and if I ever had any doubts about my own work I guess I can feel at ease now. I would like to thank the many people who stopped to tell me that had visited my web site and loved my furniture.

My 90" dining table seemed to be the biggest hit. The Morris furniture was definitely a close second. The English garden furniture did yield the largest number of leads and commitments to purchase but did not have near the "wow factor".

In my business it is very hard to evaluate the outcome of a marketing event until months after. I am still getting orders from the Ottawa Farmers Market and I have not displayed there since October. That said I gave away more business cards at this one event than I did for the entire Ottawa Farmers Market (where I had a display for most of the summer and fall last year). Time will tell.

The people at Caneast Shows do not fool around! They take great care of the exhibitors and spend a fortune promoting the event. They did have to compete with great weather, the Woman's Show downtown, The Upper-Gatineau Outdoors Show, and the Outdoorsman Show in Carp. Other vendors told me that attendance was literally a fraction of what it was in the past but I have nothing to compare it to. I must say that the CE Center, although a beautiful facility, needs to do something about the parking problem. I had 20 free ticket and could not give away half of them because people were angry about the parking at the CE Center. They hate the system for paying for tickets which involves waiting in line to pay for parking inside the building, and then having to wait in line to have the paid parking token processed on the way out. But worse again, the $7 fee to park is particularly annoying. The feeling is that having the venue in a non-central area like the airport, should mean free parking. Personally I never pretend to understand other people's business models - I am sure that the nice people at the CE Center have phenomenal overhead and need to recover some profit in any way that they can... I often have people challenge me on my prices saying that there is only X dollars of wood in that piece of furniture so why the price? They don't understand that I pay rent, maintain tens of thousands of dollars of tools, and pay a lot for insurance, marketing, and other things besides the wood (not to mention my time). I can only imagine that the CE Center has multiple orders of magnitude more expenses than I do. That said the parking policy is starting to annoy a large enough percentage of the population that they may want to investigate recovering costs some other way.

All in all it was rather pleasant. Not sure if I will do it again next year. We'll see how much business it yields.

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