Selling art online is dandy, but it doesn’t give folks a hands-on feel for your work. Getting your art into local ships is OK, but retailers tend to take a hefty chunk of your profits. Sitting in your living room and hoping people will magically order things through osmosis doesn’t work (I tried). This leaves one more option: holding your very own art sale open house.
Since my backyard doubles as my studio, triples as my serene oasis, and is already packed with examples of my art, I agreed to give it a whirl when a pal suggested it. And I’m glad I did, as the Rynski Magic Garden Open House was officially a success (wheee!).
I’m extending a massive thank you to all who came by – and a handful of tips for anyone who may want to give an art sale open house a go in your own home or yard.
Take Photos of the Event
While I took several shots of my backyard setup before the event, the camera was promptly forgotten once the open house was in full swing. Oops. Photos of the event serve several purposes. They give you:
- A way to publicly say “thanks!” to those who attended, by posting their pix online
- Plenty of people to tag on Facebook
- A reminder of how you arranged things in case you want to do it again
- Automatic blog content following the event
- Fond memories you can pass down to your grandchildren (or grand-dogs, as the case may be)
My apologies I am unable to tag any of the fabulous attendees on FB. And I forgot to get a pic of the food table or my shirts hanging in a tree.
Scan for Dog Poop – Twice
While you can skip this step if you don’t have dogs and the event is not being held in your backyard, you still want to make sure things are spic and span. Hose down your patio furniture. Spruce up any artwork that looks like it’s been hit by a Mack truck.
And for goodness sake, make sure anything you’re selling is free of dust, dirt, detritus and other debris. No one is going to want to buy something that looks like it’s been stored in the corner of the basement since 1982.
Ask Someone to Help You
Sharon gets a huge thanks here, as it’s essential to have someone on hand who can help man the event. Not only did she bring a bastion of delicious snacks, but she moved them into the house when an equal bastion of flies discovered them. She likewise helped showcase my work, answer questions, provide suggestions and otherwise was a joy to have on hand.
In addition to about 62 rounds of verbal thank yous, I’m also giving her a “No Soliciting” sign as tangible appreciation for her assistance.
Choose Snacks that Make a Good Stir-Fry
Speaking of snacks, we had waaaaay too many of them. Take note of when you’re holding your open house. Ours was 1 to 3 p.m., or right after lunchtime. Guess people weren’t all that hungry. Or maybe they just saw the bastion of flies moving in (kidding). In any event, the leftover shrimp and veggie platters made a scrumptious shrimp and veggie stir-fry.
Oh yeah, I also ended up with a full pot of coffee no one touched. It may have helped if I would have remembered to actually offer it to the guests. Make that a scrumptious shrimp and veggie stir-fry with a big caffeine buzz.
Don’t Forget the Coffee, or The Other Extras
In addition to forgetting about the coffee and as-it-happened photos, I also have a slew of business card magnets I meant to hand out with every purchase. Here comes another oops. Thankfully, some folks did notice them and I was able to hand out a few. Like the shrimp and veggies, they certainly won’t go to waste. But it’s still a good idea to make a checklist of things you don’t want to forget as the event is going on.
Be Prepared to Sell the Shirt off Your Back
Literally. Sharon and I both wore Rynski shirts, along with a sign that said: “Want the shirt off my back? Order one today!” While the open house was mainly geared toward taking orders for art I would then create, I was also OK selling a shirt and art right off the trees.
Sure, there was one item made out of junk drawer debris I wasn’t ready to part with, but I was delighted one of the coolest gals I know wanted to provide several other items with a new home on the spot.
Get a PayPal Card Swiper
Officially known as PayPal Here, the setup involves downloading the PayPal Here app, ordering a card swiper from PayPal, and then being able to take credit or debit cards for payments. This is an absolute must in a society where many of us carry very little cash.
And I would have purchased at least four knit scarves and hats at the Nordic Fair instead of the single head warmer if the Nordic Fair lady would have had one.
Have a Catalog of Your Work On Hand
Having photos of your work that’s for sale online, custom orders you sold, and other goodies that may not be on hand is a huge help for giving your attendees a better feel for all you can do. Taking the time to sift through your photo files and print one up will definitely be worth your while.
Follow Up Promptly
Post-event follow-up needs to be done pronto. Heck, I’m writing this blog the evening after the open house – even before I unwind with the final season of “Sons of Anarchy.”
I’m also about to pick the winner of the Rynski Magic Garden Open House raffle and then pen a “Thank you” email to all who entered and attended. You want to keep the momentum going, connect while the event is fresh in people’s minds, and make sure they know how much they’re appreciated.
Don’t worry. The excitement of a successful open house will help you achieve all of the above soon after the event. Well, that, and the full pot of coffee you forgot to serve to your guests.
Thanks again to all who came by. You absolutely rock!