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Monday, May 5

heading home

We left Richmond and drove a few hours to get a start on our journey home. So here we are in Hagerstown MD at a lovely Hampton Inn to which we escaped after almost being incarcerated in a cheap-o motel with low ceilings, metal doors, indoor/outdoor carpeting and so much room deodorizer that the stench filled the hallway as soon as you opened the door. We wanted a place where we could have a peaceful morning, watch the Today show, have coffee and take off rested. That place would have had us on the road by 5 just to maintain my sanity. We made a vow a while ago never to stay at a roach motel just to save 20 bucks. We renewed our vows last night.

Anyway, I'm drinking coffee, propped up in the creamy bedding and blogging. And contemplating whether it was really dumb to spend so much on a show in times like these. It was really expensive to do Richmond. Hotels, gas, meals. Aaargh. We'll be lucky to get home without being in the red. I love this show for many reasons, one of which used to be good sales. Well, all the other reasons (great setting, lots of people, responsible, dedicated organizers) just don't matter if sales aren't there. And they weren't. For anyone. Well, except for the wooden roses people.

Let me tell you about the wooden roses. Every couple of years a fad infects the art and craft circuit like kudzu. Weathervanes, lucky bamboo, root baskets, wooden roses. These are items purchased at insanely low prices from China or somewhere and passed off as handcrafted by the seller. The latest is wooden roses.

They cost 6 cents apiece and sellers charge about $15 a dozen. They come in colors, they come scented. And people buy them like crazy for some reason. The first time I saw them, every other person passing us had a bunch. With that kind of markup, the guy made enough to buy a house that day.

So, Saturday, when the roses people set up next to a ceramicist, her immediate reaction was "Oh, no you don't!" The line outside the roses booth extended past her booth, blocking her customers. She notified the organizers and they said they needed proof. She marshalled her forces to go Google the needed info and they came through with enough evidence for the committee to come tell the folks they had to leave. Yay! Right? Wrong. They wouldn't leave. Kept selling and selling for the next half hour until the police came to remove them. The organizers said the rose creeps had sent in a photo of "the artist" painting the tip of one of the roses. Sigh.

Kudos to Pat Lovelace and her crew. Many, many promoters would have shrugged it off and said there was nothing they could do.

Most artists we spoke to had poor sales this weekend. One who starts his year early in the Southern circuit said all his shows have been down 50%. Yikes! I don't usually listen to that stuff. If there's anything art show artists like more than free coffee and danish, it's bemoaning the fate of their industry. I started over 10 years ago and they were griping then, forecasting gloom and doom.

So, what explains this bad show? I dunno. I was hoping that the gas prices might keep people closer to home (except for nut jobs like us) and they would spend their vacation money on other fun things like art festivals. Sounded good to me!

Oh well, some folks sold nothing, We, at least, sold enough to finance our jaunt into a warm climate for a couple of days, got to try out and tweak our new booth design which worked great, tested some new designs which turned out to be popular and met wonderful people. Could be worse.

Now, home to Jake the wonder dog, who has been "suffering" without us in the loving home of our neighbors, Marie and Jolene. Home to start getting ready for the next show.

And on we go...

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