Those of you that read my blog regularly know that my other business, Bad Girls of the North, is an enterprise that produces arts & crafts shows. When Carol & I started the business in 1998, our primary goal was to create good venues for us to sell our own crafts (Carol is a soap maker and I make jewelry). At that time, Anchorage had a plethora of craft shows, mostly taking place in school cafeterias and gyms, churches and aircraft hangars. Not exactly conducive to high-end craft marketing.
Carol is on the left. That's me on the right. My hair is grayer now and I hardly ever wear my contacts any more.
Our first show in November, 1998 had 22 vendor spaces and took place in a now condemned hotel in mid-town Anchorage. The reception from the community was amazing! When we opened the doors at 5 pm on that Friday evening (our shows always take place on Friday evenings and all day Saturday) there was an onslaught of customers. We had a buffet of free nibbles for the shoppers and a cash bar so they could grab a glass of wine or a beer while they shopped.
We really had no idea what we were doing, but our advertising must have worked. We lost our shirts on that first show. It was embarrassing in a financial way.
But we learned. And 13 years later, we are still learning.
We have relocated our Anchorage show several times over the years to accommodate growth. We also added a show in the Mat-Su Valley in 1999 (now canceled) and another in Fairbanks in 2000 (still going strong).
Our advertising always consists of a print ad in the local newspaper, public radio underwriting and a huge direct mail campaign.
In an attempt to maintain a reasonable cost to the artists who participate in our juried shows, we started selling our logo merchandise: shirts, hats, bags, mugs, water bottles, sweatshirts. The proceeds from these sales ensures that we can keep our shows affordable for the artists and still make some money for ourselves. These sales subsidize the craft show production.
Over the years, we have shipped our t-shirts all over the country. Someone's daughter has just left for college in Oregon and needs a Bad Girls shirt. A sister in Virginia loves Alaska and wants a hat. We have 13 years worth of stories. It's incredibly satisfying to have so many loyal customers who look forward to visiting our State Fair booth, craft shows our website year after year.
Don't you need a hat, or something????
just kidding ...