Yesterday I wrote about finding the place where your work matches the customers… it is a fine art, coupled with the social science of demographics, economics and a small measure of just sheer gutsyness.
One of the loveliest invitations was to set up a small art market at a Cafe on the east side. Trendy neighborhood, rock star chef, lovely refurbished home that is fully restaurant and bar, giant kitchen garden at one side… awesome smells and sounds. Yes, how lovely was this invitation, and to ice the cake the invitation was free. No charge…. hmm…
We packed up the car, and rolled over there, set up in the driveway of this former house… adjacent to the kitchen garden where the tomato plants were as tall as me, and the smell of garden was delightful. Basically this is a restaurant destination, and people were coming out to eat, and drink.. not look at our stuff. Time passed, and our only interested people turn out to be a couple that loves soap, and a guy that works on cars and has beaten up hands… loves our scrubs. We found ourself buying something to eat and there went our profits… literally we ate our profits.
What was right about that place proved to be why we were wrong for that place… people a re not impulse shopping. No this is not the 90s where money flowed and spending was often unfiltered by the economic realities we face today. Perhaps in the 90s this would have been a profitable thing.
I give you that illustration to help focus the point. In these economic times of challenge there are people who are not affected, who continue to live just as they had, however the impulse shopping is curtailed, or sharply reduced. Going out to eat and perhaps having a drink or two is the impulse spending. There is no room for more.
According to Art Institute of America the market for art and craft goods is approximately 10% of the population. Fine art drops the market to under 5% of the population. These numbers were calculated prior to our economic crash and current state. True art officionados are probably unaffected, and continue to look for that beautiful painting, fine porcelain, or unique piece of silver. But the other 90-95% of the population may not be interested or have the resources to enjoy the purchase of art and craft goods.
Selling soap, silk and such is a bit like a writer… the creation of the writing always keeps the audience in mind… who is reading this, what do they look for, how will they stay engaged, are you reaching their interest, and are you communicating clearly. Writers sharpen those skills, hone their pen to exacting standards to meet their audience. We are learning that we have to adapt and refine our products to meet what an audience is looking for.