The Springfield Antique Show & Flea Market Extravaganza is a 3-day event larger than any I have attended as a vendor. With over 1,500 vendors outdoors and countless more filling the Arts & Crafts, Annex, Mercantile, and Youth Buildings as well as several of the Clark County Fairgrounds' livestock barns, this is a big, big event. Most of the vendors are indeed antique dealers, with fine antiques located in the Youth Building. About 25 to 30 percent of the vendors were more of the flea market variety selling a diverse array of food and wares. Hen House Publishing was located near the front of the Mercantile Building between a dealer selling Amish-made cheeses, jellies, and pickled vegetables and an antique dealer selling old dolls and vintage clothing and across from a dealer selling pork rinds and sundry snack foods and another dealer selling Tupperware.
I thought the flea market aspect of the event coupled with the large numbers of attendees (reported between 19,000 and 22,000) would make for a likely venue to sell books and paintings. I truly thought the paintings, being original artwork and unusual for such an event, would draw the most attention and sell better than the books. I brought only my four latest titles to sell: Focus, Knight of the Twin Moons, Russian Revival, and Double Cut. As usual, my best friend, Cindra Phillips of CR Ranch Creative, joined me. We set up three tables: two with our paintings and one with my books. As customary, I draped two of the tables in glittering gold tablecloths with easels and one in maroon. Cindra strung blinking Christmas lights to attract attention. I erected my bannerstand. We set up two floor easels to display more paintings. We rearranged the tables a couple of time until we found a configuration that suited us within the 10 X 10 space. The smallest table draped in maroon was at the front and displayed my books.
Cindra and I quickly discovered that the organizers did not fail their promise to bring in the crowds. We had no complaint about event attendance; there were a lot of people, many of whom made it to the Mercantile Building and wandered through more than once. Several attendees brought their dogs which were all quite well behaved. We enjoyed meeting the dogs. Several food concessionaires also joined the throngs of vendors: the usual "fair food" types.
Friday's hours were long: 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday's hours were shorter: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday had the shortest hours of operation: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday's hours were ridiculous, far too long for a weekday when most folks were still working. Saturday's hours worked well. Sunday's hours could have started later and ended an hour earlier. (I would have liked to have been able to go to Mass without a conflict in business hours.)
So ... sales. Sales were, in a word, disappointing. Cindra sold, if I remember correctly, two paintings. I sold two paintings. I sold quite a few books, though. Both Friday and Saturday evenings, I departed with a list of titles to restock from at-home inventory. We couldn't blame a paucity of attendees for poor sales; we accredit the lackluster performance to a mismatch of audience. The Springfield Antique Show & Flea Market Extravaganze is not a good venue for us; the audience isn't a good match for what we sell.
All in all, I did make a small profit over what I call "direct" expenses (mileage, food and beverages, registration fee). If I count in the cost of inventory, I could probably cut the profit by half. If I count in the hours spent (27) working the event—even if I only paid myself state minimum wage ($10.10 per hour for Ohio)—then I lost money.
On the upside, the event was well organized and ran smoothly. We met some really nice people. And a couple of the attendees swore that they'd read and/or purchased my books before and recognized my author name (Holly Bargo). It's gratifying to know that brand awareness of my author name is building. I hope the folks who bought my books enjoy them and, perhaps, will leave positive reviews.
As for the Springfield Antique Show & Flea Market Extravanganza ... we won't return as vendors. It's a great venue for the antiques and snack foods sellers, but not for us.
Until the next event: the Ohio Authors Book Fair on Saturday, May 27, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Jeffersonville Outlets, Jeffersonville, Ohio. Cindra and I hope to see you there!
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