I'm going to be honest with you: today I picked up my check from sales from the last 2 weeks, and it was the LOWEST it's been in over 5 YEARS. I made less in the last 2 weeks than I made TODAY alone. OWIE.
We've all been there—you're on a happy, profitable roll and then sales stop or slow down. Or, you're just chugging along and grind to a halt. We can blame it on the economy, or the venue, but usually it's a combination of the two exacerbated by one unavoidable and shameful realization: I've become lazy.
Well, not lazy per se, but negligent. That's what's happened to me. With my expansion to a second venue—as well as recent travels for family matters and increased accursed-day-job responsibilities—the majority of the fault lies directly with ME. I'll own it. What can you do to turn the tide, however?
1. Bring in new junk—the good junk. Stop "saving" the good junk for the elusive show months from now (unless you know you can command higher prices). I scored 2 of these supadupa chippy green elementary-school art tables up in PA and decided to bring one in. Yeah, I was saving them for a Chartreuse show, and yeah, I wanted to add wheels to them first. BUT, my booth needed a new focal point. Within about 20 minutes, a customer casually told me my booth looked better than ever. Whew.
2. Time for a sale! Knowing that I needed an injection, and that I had more dead stock than I cared to admit (see #3), I marked down a ton of items. For some items, I finally admitted that I was trying to charge a lot to cover for my high rent. I can't be wed to shoulda/coulda/woulda when it comes to prices. If an item has been sitting too long, it's time to shove it OUT. Hopefully to a buyer, but if not ...
3. Yank it from your booth. After a few weeks (ouch!) away from my booth, I saw it with new eyes. Some of my items have been there for far too long. Many of these items can move to online, or another venue. I'll also admit that a few items were things I'd got a good deal on, and wanted to pass along (and make a buck), though they weren't really "me" and I needed to ...
4. Stop diluting the brand. Today afforded another eye-opener: when I first walked into my booth, there was a guy fondling one of my beloved clocks. Another customer was checking out a typewriter. When I walked in holding a box full of cameras, another customer said to her companion, "I TOLD YOU she always has great cameras!" Clearly, that's what I'm known for. Yes, I buy them religiously—in bulk—when I can, so need to bring them in more frequently.
But, it made me realize that many other items in my booth are not in keeping with what I'm KNOWN FOR. Why do I still have remnants of shabby chic painted furniture? Why do I have some random items (that I'm not known for) but that I see selling well elsewhere (online, in other geographical regions, etc.)? Why am I not staying true to my brand? Those items have to GO.
5. Rearrange as often as possible. I spent a lot of time today re-foofing. Normally, I can't even get to my location every week (it's an hour away, and duh: that day job), and when I am there, I don't want to spend hours and hours. But, rearranging is the smartest thing you can do. Yeah, it still looks fundamentally the same to you, but to a buyer, it looks different. Placing something front-and-center that was formally tucked in a corner can make or break that sale.
As you can see from the above photo, I also decided to cluster all my yardlong/group photos. Years ago, I did this, but I fell out of the practice for one stupid reason: if someone buys just one of those yardlongs, there's a giant hole and it doesn't look good any more. It no longer has the same impact. When I can't be there frequently to re-foof ... oh hell, who cares? I'm not one of those "decorator" booths. I can't be there enough to build vignettes. All I can do is show a buyer how items can be used—and how they can have impact.
All 5 of these are my "blind spots"; I know what I need to do, but have been negligent. What else am I missing?