Question from a Reader: Can I Make Money in Michigan?

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Jewelry at the State Street Art FairDear Connie:

I am looking for some more recent information on the Flint Art Fair: since you are right in Michigan and not far away from there maybe you would know more. I am hoping you will be able to tell me something personally (you have all sorts of inside information, right??) without having to put it in your newsletter. If the newsletter is the best option I would appreciate it if you did not use my name…

I am from northern Illinois so it’s a 6 hour drive for me. I did the show several times (last in 2001 and 2002) and did fairly well, not spectacularly. This was before the Michigan economy went downhill. With current gas prices (hotels are up by ~ 20% too) I need to be better informed before doing this show, or opting for a very small local one.

I researched recent shows in my usual way (using Sunshine Artist and AFSB). The show was held off-site for a few years while the art center was being renovated, but I believe it’s back on site now. I could not come up with any real current information (reviews were mostly about the issues of being off-site), and posted a question on the AFSB forum with no luck there either. I ran out of research time and sent in my application. I have been accepted but have a while before the booth fee is due and now I really need to know about how sales have been there.

It’s a given that sales at all shows are down, across the board, not just in Michigan. I had 6 shows in Michigan last year and the repeats (3) were down from 10% to 34%. Weather was good both years, actually better the second year, so that was not a factor. The new ones obviously I have no personal record to use for predictions. So it’s not a question so much of WILL sales be down, just how MUCH down. The 34 % percent drop in _____ _____, for example (on top of a 20% decine from the year before), means it is no longer worth the 6+ hour drive (please do not publicize that – keep it private: as I don’t want to hurt what is really a very nice show, run by very kind people. If I were local I would certainly do it again. )….

I appreciate your help.

Name withheld

I have held off on answering this question for some time trying to come up with a good answer for you. Michigan has been hard hit. That is hardly news. You are wise to seek more information. My take on it: the people who are succeeding financially at the shows are those who have something so wonderful, or so fabulously priced that people cannot resist it. This marketplace is more competitive than ever. Cutting costs, in order to bolster your profit, is smart.

Traveling six hours to a show that has been marginal for you would not be a good idea, better to put that time and money into something that is not so much a gamble. I know your work. There are many marketplaces where I think you would do well, or at least increase the odds of doing better than making this trip.

I do not have personal information on this show. Maybe some of my readers do. Can anyone address the questions entered here? Please comment below.

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7 Responses to “Question from a Reader: Can I Make Money in Michigan?”

  1. cborrie Says:

    Connie, I have participated in the Flint Art Show for many years as a student of the FIA. When the show was held off site it was only moved a few blocks away but still in the cultural center area. They moved it to accomodat constructural improvements of the FIA building. It is now back on the front lawn of the FIA. As with every thing else it seemed like sales were down a little. However, this is a well established show that many look forward to. Traffic is huge. The show in general is very fun – – Great Food- – Great Music – – Great Art. What more can you ask for?

  2. dmf32835 Says:

    Sounds fun.

  3. ronald colvin Says:

    I wanted to know the same question, too. I just moved up here from Fla. I,am a disable vet. that turn art into my life. I,am now seeking to promote my work. I became a member of e-bay. Its the best way to sell if you keep your starting price at about 10% more than you feel it,s worth. Happy sale,s Ron.

  4. JAN ROTH Says:

    I have two friend that have done the Flint Art show, they haven’t done very well. They both do very superb work, but in Michigan it’s getting harder for sales.

  5. Delilah Says:

    I have done the show but will not be doing it anymore. Just not enough buyers in the higher $ range. If you do jewlery,pottery, or something very different I think you will do well. Wall art is a hard sell.

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