Saturday, August 3, 2013

ART SHOWS 101: Survival Tips for Show Artists and Crafters, Vol. 20 The Hazards of Living in a Groupon Economy

I've written about this in the past, but I'm curious to find out if other people are experiencing it too. I've noticed a definite uptick in bargain-seeking and price haggling at shows this year.

Not that it's anything new. I clearly remember one of the first times it happened to me. I was set up at the Colden Art Festival, a late-September, one-day show in "downtown" Colden at that time. It was a stormy day and my make-shift display was not holding up to the wind, so I had work spread out on the ground. A guy picked up one of my Polaroid transfers, which were quite popular at the time, and asked about the process. I explained how it was made and he replied: "I don't care about the image, but I'm interested in the process, will you take $5 for it?" I was mortified and said "NO!"

20 years later, in a much better tent, with a completely different body of work, I'm hearing echos of that sentiment. "I LOVE this little ($68) painting! It would be PERFECT for my boat! Will you take $50 for it?" 


Now don't get me wrong. I'm not completely opposed to offering discounts. I have a bit of a cushion built into the prices of my higher end work just for that reason. But I'm not going to drop the price of a smaller piece by 30 to 40 percent just to make a sale!

Is the Groupon Economy destroying us?

Is the constant influx of "Save over 60%", "50% OFF!", "Never Pay Retail Again" offers undermining pricing strategy as we know it?

Please share your thoughts and experiences.

Until next time - keep creating!



  1. I hear you on this Alison!!
    I find it frustrating and a little insulting but I noticed if I am having a bad show, unfortunately I give in to the pressure on occasion.
    Some cities I noticed more "haggling" goes on than other cities.
    I always think when it happens, you would never go into walmart or target and ask for $ off your purchase and all that crap is mass produced, so why do people do it to artists? It confuses me.

  2. My very first craft show I actually DISCOUNTED most of my items because I was so excited for them to sell in person. Until I had a little girl walk up to me and start looking at my clips. Her father said "Those are too expensive [$6], see if you can find something for $3."

    No. Goodbye. Please don't ever visit me again.

  3. I am impressed by show sellers' ability to restrain themselves from leaping over a display table and throttling unappreciative passersby! Hopefully they are the exception!

  4. While I still stand by much of what I wrote, and I don't want to give the impression that art shows are, indeed, hot beds of criminal activity, I would be remiss if I did not write about what recently happened at an otherwise wonderful show.
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