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bearlyart Canna Bear Paint
Posts: 749

Jared, interesting thoughts about using eBay as advertising space for 30 dollars.  Although if you think of it as $30/week, and consider that TBR or TB&F is a 2-month magazine... then the comparative price is actually $240 for two months' worth of featured bears on eBay.  Well, that really is on par with the price of taking out a two month ad in one of the magazines.  I do agree that eBay reaches a broader audience, including interestingly enough, people that don't normally collect teddy bears but may run across them in an eBay-wide search for something else.  That is the power of eBay, there is a POTENTIAL for an endless supply of buyers (getting them to look at your auction in particular is another story).

Regarding B4B... I think Nancy is wonderful, she has my utmost respect and I wish her the best of luck.  However.  I've watched many, many sites try to rise up over the years as competition to eBay in various niche markets.  I'm not aware of any succeeding terribly well.  The only one I know of that has survived well is TIAS ( for antiques.  And I think that even they have changed the way their site functions to survive.  If I recall correctly (???), in the beginning they tried to be a straight auction site taking business from eBay, and it didn't work out.  Last I heard anything about them, they work on many levels primarily as simply a store for members' listings, but one of the recent additions is that they now DO support eBay auctions of its' members, including participation with eBay Live auctions. 

When it comes right down to it, what eBay has that other sites do not is TRAFFIC.  Even if 1% of people looking at teddy bears are actually going to buy a bear, eBay makes up for it by shoving thousands of people past your auction every day.  Sites that rise up to compete with eBay need their OWN traffic flow in as large a number as they can.  It's not just a matter of encouraging artists to support the site.  "List your bears here, it's cheaper!"  "Tell your mailing list!"  Only a PERCENTAGE of a mailing list will check out a new listing or auction, anybody that keeps track of their statistics knows that.  It's like having a bear show all set up with dozens of artists, tons of bears, and then having 20 prospective buyers walk through the doors over the course of the day.  I went to a show like that this summer, needless to say sales were horrible.  Even if every one of the twenty prospective buyers bought multiple bears each (and they didn't), there just weren't enough of them to make it a good day for sales.  It's the collectors, the visitors, the TRAFFIC that makes or breaks a sales venue. 

I haven't sold bears on eBay since last year, for the very simple reason that I found through trial-and-error that my bears sold more reliably and for better prices at shows.  But when I did last sell bears on eBay, some sales went to bear collectors but some did not... they went, for example, to someone browsing all of eBay to find a Christmas gift for his fiance, to someone looking for something extra-special to have under the tree for his older daughter, to some fellow in Singapore with no grasp on the language and no history of buying bears (but I discovered in mailing the bear that his street name was the same as the bear's name... must have been how he found it!).  It was not just bear-collecting traffic that sells bears on eBay, it is the general Joe Q. Public, and no competing venue has access to more Joe Q's.

OK, I've been typing this so long, I don't remember what I was originally answering.  <sigh>


lulubears Posts: 280

Hi all.  I am one of the promoters that has offered up tables at my shows for INTERNATIONAL artists only!  I do not offer a group table for artists that are not international.  My reasoning doesn't seem to make sense to anyone but myself, but I'm ok with that.

Two shows that I participated in religiously for over ten years were hugely successful until the promoter started offering group tables. (One show is now defunct and the other is hanging on by a thread.)  The minute the group tables appeared, the number of tables sold went down, and the number of collectors through the door has almost disappeared. One year, the promoter could sell ten tables to ten individuals, the next year, all of those artists got together and bought one group table.  (They've been doing the same ever since.)  The promoter lost nine tables and ended up with one table - jammed, cram-packed with so many bears the collectors were afraid to touch anything.  If they did touch something, they risked something else falling off.  Some items end up not being marked, thus the loss of sales.  This frustrates the customers, and the artists.  Additionally, we've seen everything from purses to quilted wall hangings show up on the tables.  Seems to me, that if it has a bear on it, it must be okay to put on the table.

The collectors, who had been coming for years, walked into a room, expecting to see lots of tables full of bears, and instead, saw a room half the size as in previous years.  Instead of being able to visit with artists whose work they might want to purchase, they encountered group tables where they might or might not be able to visit with the artist whose work they wanted to buy.  All of the artists participting in the group table live less than 4 hours away from one show, and in the same town as the other.  Customers know this, and have expressed to us that if the artists can't be bothered to travel 3 or 4 hours, (or even across town),  then why would they (the customers) bother to buy their bears.  I think the bottom line, is - we teach people how to treat us, and we have forgotten our customers.  Where would we be without them?   

Other artists that I've worked with also resent the group tables.  Who would be willing to pay full fare for a table knowing that you could split the cost of a table with ten other artists?  Believe me, a lot of artists are willing to spend WAY less, send fewer bears and then HOPE for sales.  I think an artist is the best salesman for their own work!

Jodi brings up some very valid points, in that this is a HUGE responsibility for the promoter.  Keeping track of who is sending bears, when they want them shipped back, what method they want them shipped back, keeping track of what was sold, doing the books, etc., is no easy task.  We have always had the artists pay a small fee for showing their bears with us, and take a 10% commission.  If no bears are sold, no commission is taken.  If you don't receive enough bears to fill a table, that's a table that could have been sold at full price to another artist.  If you receive too many bears for one table, you have to be willing to set up another table.  (After all, they did send you bears, and they should all be displayed, regardless of how many tables it requires.)  It really does take one person dedicated to watching that table, as you are dealing with more than just one artist's work.  Sales on thoses tables almost always require acceptance of credit cards.  Bags, tissue, charge card fees, etc., must all be taken into account.  These bears need to be packaged no differently than our own would be for the new owner.  But, it's silly to ask the artists to send bags, tissue, etc.  While I feel like our fees are very reasonable, and have always had a great response, I worry every time I send a box of bears back.  If you put the value of the bears on the package, the artist will incur customs fees, which can be excrutiating.  If you mark the package as a gift, and the package is lost, everyone loses, and no one is happy.  Every time you hire another person to help, that drives up the cost of the tables for the remaining artists.  Table fees, travelling expenses, etc., are high enough without adding on more.  Additionally, the promoter incurs the responsibility of paying not only sales tax on the bears, but income tax, and self-employment tax as well.  The international group tables have worked well for us in the past, and our customers love it, so we will continue to host them.

While I do feel that some of the artists are selling themselves short, we are also selling our customers short.  We tend to forget that collectors are on these forums, as well as other chat lists.  They know exactly what is going on.  When we report all of the bad things going on in the bear world, write about lousy shows, etc., they see that.  It's discouraging to them, and has a ripple effect on the artists and shows.  It's rare to see someone post about what a good time they had at a show, but we seem to get more responses when we have something to grumble about.  Shows are where the majority of us all started selling our bears.  We've branched out to selling our bears on websites, e-bay, chat lists and other auction sites.  While that works for some, it won't for others.  The same goes for shows.  I still think shows are the best way to really get out and meet collectors.  I pick and choose the ones I do, and if I'm unhappy with a show, I tell the promoter.  They are the only ones that can change it - and if they don't, then I have a hard time feeling compassion for them when they go under. 


bearlyart Canna Bear Paint
Posts: 749

I wanted to respond to Daphne too, but figured my first post was long enough  bear_grin

Daphne, I loved the idea when you took other artists' bears to shows with you.   The thought has been tickling at me ever since.  Some thoughts (I'm going to list these separately)...

I must agree that an International table is the only way to go. 
#1) It sounds impressive for the show, and could indeed be used in promotions. 
#2) I think collectors might love the opportunity to see work in person that otherwise they might never be able to, and international artists certainly fit this bill.
#3) I think all artists understand how hard it is to travel internationally for a show.  I don't think other participating artists would resent a grouped International table, whereas there might be sour feelings towards a  group of artists that are in the same state as the show, like Luann mentioned above.

I am not sure that asking every promoter to shoulder all of the responsibility for an International sales table is the way to go.  I think many may just be too busy (or not interested enough) to attempt it.  I wonder instead if the better answer isn't to work with the blessing of promoters, but instead function as in independent group.  I can say that for me, I would be willing to volunteer time and effort into such a venture.  I would be willing to volunteer in whatever way I was able... shipping & receiving, working with artists, build a web presence to drum up support, babysit a table at a show, whatever... because I think it's a great idea.  But I must admit that I would be *most* willing to work on something like this in the US if I knew that my own bears would have a chance at sharing table space at a show that is international to me, like Australia or England.  This would be a group whose efforts were truly reciprocal.

I think chosing the shows that would best host such an International table might be a challenge in itself.  It would be a mistake to just go to any show willing to take them.  I've been to numerous shows this year so far, and no way would I recommend all of them for such a venture.  In some cases, there were barely enough collectors through the door to support the artists there in person, I would never take additional artists' bears to a venue like that.  It would be a waste for everyone involved.  And of larger and more heavily-attended shows, the promoters might not be interested in the idea at all.  Much research would need to go into this.

Now, presuming that a list of acceptable shows could be scrounged up and promoter approval granted in advance, it seems to me that the best way to ask artists to foot an international shipping bill is to offer them the opportunity to send their bears to MORE than one show while it was in the country.  On their application, they could check off which shows they would like their bears to attend.  If the bears sell at the first show, fine.  If not, they get stored carefully by the group until the next show that artist wanted their bear at. 

Consider making it a juried process.  It can be juried individually by bear ("would you accept this bear at your table?") or by artist.  Gather as impartial a jury as is possible, with other artists, promoters, store owners, whatever.  Limit the number of bears that can be submitted by any one person at any one time.   

Figure out the maximum number of bears you would be willing to place on a table at a show.  I figure there are two ways to do this, to prevent overcrowding.  Divide up the table space at that show (6' table? 8' table?) by either:
#1) square footage - each artist gets 1 square foot of space, for example.  Some artists might send one big bear, another might send half a dozen minis to fit that space. 
#2) divide by the number of bears you think the table can efficiently hold, perhaps 20 of varying sizes on a multi-tiered display.

So with those potential examples above (I'm randomly choosing numbers by the way)... let's say you could get an 8'  x 30" table at a show for $300.  You could divide it into square footage, oh we'll say 12" x 15" blocks which makes for 16 blocks of table space at $18.75 / block just to pay for the table.  The decision could be made as to whether people could purchase multiple blocks.  Alternately, if dividing by the number of bears you'd like to see on the table, let's say you want to see a maximum of 24 bears on that same 8' x 30" table at the $300 price.  Now the price per bear would be $12.50 to cover the cost of the table, and people could send multiple bears with a limit per artist.   Interesting!  Certainly beats the costs of travelling internationally!

Sorry, I think Daphne's original question was "would you consider it?".  Yes, I would.  Sorry for all the extra blahblahblah above  bear_original


Daphne Back Road Bears
Laconia, NH USA
Posts: 6,568

Kelly is right about the traffic on eBay vs. ANY other site.
And ya know, most of the members of B4B are fellow artists from TT and other forums who are trying to support Nancy's site and efforts. But why pay listing fees on B4B's when one can just post their bears here in the Bears & Friends forum for those same fellow artists to see and buy?

As for the show and group table topic.... I agree with not offering group tables to any other than international artists who are NOT personally coming to the show. A promoter looses out in a very big way, as Luann explained, by allowing artists to 'share' a table at a show. That is simply not a good practice.

But international artists bears offered at a group table......... I agree its a lot of work as again Luann explained. BUT....... promoters have to think outside the box if they are going to continue to be successful. They've got to be willing to go the extra mile, put in the extra effort, have fresh and exciting ideas. A promoter needs to ask themselves WHY they are organizing bear shows. Is it for the benefit of the artists to gain exposure and sell? Is it for the collectors? Or is it to make money? Those who's mission it is to make a profit and thus cut corners where ever possible.... in my opinion.... produce lousy shows. It's obvious when a promoter doesn't want to make an effort or do this for the artists but rather for themselves. Those are likely the shows that are no longer happening or are ones that shouldn't be as they make a bad name for bear shows overall.

I only have one show under my belt as a producer. Did I go overboard on my plans and pampering the artists and marketing the show? Absolutely NOT!!!! (Some of the artists felt I was treating them like royalty.... I just did for them as I'd expect to have done for me if I was an artist who'd just shelled out money and driven a distance to do someone's show.) Did I make a profit? Yes, a little. But most importantly..... were the artists happy with the show? If you haven't checked out the show review on my website you ought to. I've gotten cards and emails from almost every single artist who did the show praising my efforts. Did everyone sell heaps of bears? Far from it. But everyone enjoyed themselves, there were tons of smiles, lots of fun and the majority of both artists and collectors who attended the show said they looked forward to coming back next year... that it was well worth it!

I find that bouncing ideas off of all of you helps put things in perspective as you all have had a variety of experiences. To be honest I've seen more of what I DON'T like at the shows I've done than what I do like. Most of the shows I've done have lacked in freshness, excitement, advertising, a pleasant environment, etc. None have been good examples for me. So I'm learning a lot from all of you and am finally getting myself out of New England this fall/winter for a couple of shows with good reputations! :)

As a promoter, I'm out for us artists... to help us not just get by but THRIVE with our businesses. It's tough to do today but I support any productive means by which to acheive this goal. (And I suppose I'm on a mission to rejuvenate shows... could ya tell???)

Daphne Back Road Bears
Laconia, NH USA
Posts: 6,568

Kellly, we were posting at the same time.

You are full of great ideas!!! It is the kind of venture that can indeed be put to work with the potential for very positive results. Are ya ready, Kelly??? Let's do it! :)

Selling bears, whether selling our own bears or promoting shows takes EFFORT! LOTS of it. Again... if your top priority is the success of the artist then your willingness to WORK for that success will be there... you'll be looking for ways to help the teddy bear industy thrive and you'll take what ever action is necessary and within your means.

It should be obvious to all of us now that whether it's eBay, another auction site, artist websites or shows... it all takes hard work, money, trail & error and perseverance. Lots of perseverance!!!!

Jodi Falk Bears by Jodi
Gahanna , Ohio USA
Posts: 3,463

Perseverance !!!! And happy to do it to keep the artist teddy alive !!! I am willing to try the best layed plan . Count me in to help in any way. I would love to see it the way it used to be with 500 collectors out side the show doors when they open for the day !!! IT WILL HAPPEN AGAIN.......Perseverance bear_thumb

                                            Jodi Falk

Daphne Back Road Bears
Laconia, NH USA
Posts: 6,568

Golly, remember those lines???? And to think I was happy that there were 20 waiting in line at my show a couple of weeks ago!!!  :doh:

lulubears Posts: 280

Okay - so what ideas does everyone have to get those collectors back to the shows like before? (of for that matter, the artists) I know that as a promoter, I try something new and different every year.  While we certainly don't have door-busting crowds, we are still able to attract collectors that buy - some making 3 and 4 trips to their car.  Even then, the artists seem to equate a "successful" show with lines of people waiting to get in rather than the number of bears being sold and collectors happy to be there.


Daphne Back Road Bears
Laconia, NH USA
Posts: 6,568

Fewer less than sastisfactory bear shows!
More high quality, professionally run, bigger bear shows.

Really..... the more small bear shows there are that aren't impressive enough for first-time attenders to want to return to, the harder it's going to be to get those folks back to ANY show.

And the more little shows close to home that artists participate in that aren't well attended the more discouraged they get and then they drop out.

The industry can no longer support a bear show on every street corner.

There are some promoters that got the idea that MORE was a good thing. It IS good in the quality of the show but not in the quantity of shows.

People need a reason to come.... something more than just a bear show where bears sit on tables and artists eagerly await behind their table for folks to open their purses and hand the money over. I've literally FELT that desparation and practically seen the pleading looks in artists faces at some rather pathetic shows I've attended.

Collectors want a chance to have fun and feel appreciated. I did demos at my show, in a separate booth, and attendees really liked being able to LEARN something from various artists. We did hourly door prizes where the prize was a gift certificate to use toward the purchase of any artist bear that day.... folks awaited eagerly in front of the podium for their name to be called. In advertising it's important to promote any special activities, offers, artists, etc. that you'll be having. Make it clear it's an artist show... for adults... not just kids. We can't count on those collectors who used to line up at the door to keep coming back 10 years later. We've got to tempt new folks through the door.

What about offering FREE admission the last hour of the show... know how that hour usually drags and artists have their booths all but packed up? I also did an artist bear contest and saved the awards for the last half hour... some collectors stuck around or came back for that. It was a lot of fun.

Some offer early admission for a higher ticket price... what about doing the opposite.... free admission or by invitation only.... or 'with this ad' only and put the ad in a local newspaper to encourage new folks to come... no point putting it in a trade mag as that's only seen by current collectors.

I have oodles of ideas ... not all put to the test yet.
Right now hubs is practically begging for his dinner so I've got to run!!

bearlyart Canna Bear Paint
Posts: 749

Daphne, if you want to start something, I'm in.  Now is the perfect time to plan 2007 ventures anyway  bear_original

I was never in the industry during the grand old line-down-the-block days of shows, but I'm confident the industry ebbs and flows like any other.  Everything will improve eventually.  I'm certainly not going to shows and counting bodies lined up at the door, though it's nice to see it when you can.  I think what's important is the customer-to-artist ratio over the course of the day.  The obvious answer is to bring in MORE people through the door.  The flip side of this is to do what several shows have started over the last few years, and that is to admit LESS artists.  Either way, it improves the customer-to-artist ratio in favor of more sales per artist.  It keeps the artists happier, sure.   It's hard to take a financial loss at a show, and I'm sure it's even harder for artists that WERE there in better days and DO remember those long lines.

I had an interesting show experience this spring (there's a reason for this story, I'll get to that).  I went to a show in Frankenmuth, Michigan... one of the most tourist-y places on the face of the planet, I've no doubt.  Frankenmuth is made to look like a German village, it holds Bavarian festivals, has hotels with indoor water parks, and has the largest Christmas store in the world.  It's jam-packed with tourists every day of the year.  They hold a bear show every year, too.  They usually hold it in a little warren of rooms on an upper floor of the restaurant, but due to a wedding this past year, they spread the artists out over three floors.  It made for a very interesting experiment!  The artists in the 'normal' location, in the little rooms on the top floor, had bear collector traffic from people that knew about the show and came every year.  They put a handful of artists in another room on the middle floor, but put them on the complete opposite end of the building.  If you didn't know where they were (I had a horrible time finding them, and I knew where they were!), nobody really found them.  Unless you happened to walk through one particular door for your lunch reservation at the restaurant, whereupon you ran right into them.  Otherwise, they were hidden.  They had very little traffic at all.  The last few artists (including me), were placed in the hallways of the lowest level of the building.  The lowest level of the building had all of their gift & specialty shops that were affiliated with the restaurant and hotel.  The traffic flow was amazing, it was almost constant people going by.  It brought bear artists tables out into Joe Q. Public and made them go "huh?".  We made some sales to bear collectors, but we also made sales to Joe Q. Public.  Sure, we also had a few men with the "they want $200 for a TEDDY BEAR?!" attitude, but overall it was a great opportunity to educate the public. 

I strongly believe that there ARE people out there who would be artist bear collectors if they only knew about them!  My mother has made bears her entire life... she would have been in this industry in its infancy IF she had known about it.  She ultimately found out about artist bears through me, and I stumbled across them ON EBAY!

So here's my point to that little story.  How about a challenge out there to show promoters.  Bring bear shows out of hotels, back rooms and banquet halls, and put them IN the public.  Somewhere with Joe Q. Public walking past.  What about malls?  It wouldn't be the first time it was done.  Isn't there a show in Australia that's at a mall?  I know the old successful Toledo bear show used to be at a mall.  That's one very important thing that the internet holds over shows.  The internet (or if you want to be more specific, a place like eBay) can reach EVERYBODY.  That includes people who are established bear collectors, people who like teddies but don't really know about artist bears, and people that don't even know they like bears until they stumble across one that just happens to be perfect.   Today's bear shows reach out to only the first group... established bear collectors.  They read the magazines, they know the artists, they know the venues.  Bless 'em all.  But some of those established collectors just aren't attending shows like they used to, whatever the reason.  Yes, and neither are the artists.  I'm sure one affects the other, and vice versa.  I don't know where it started or why, but I know it's a vicious cycle.

Well, I've posted more in the last day than the last year combined  bear_whistle   

Best wishes,

Daphne Back Road Bears
Laconia, NH USA
Posts: 6,568

Kelly - lets chat a bit at Schuamburg if we have the opportunity. I can't think about much before that show anyway as I have a ton of things going on. But then perhaps we can start brainstorming and planning and perhaps get some other folks interested in helping us out in their little corners of the world??? I'll be giving your ideas and more of my own some thought in the meantime.

chrissibrinkley Posts: 1,836

It was asked:  "Ideas on how to get collectors back into the shows"

I'm new to this part of the industry so don't mind me if I say something  :doh: here. 
I never heard of a teddy bear show prior to using this site and subscribing to a teddy bear magazine.  I'm not living on the moon and my head's not in the sand with public art events;  I've been to a dozen sugarloaf's, food fests, musicfests, more art events in Philly than I can count.... where was I and how was I untapped?  Sugarloaf reached me by sending packets of admission coupons to all of the business complexes in the area.  I got a $1 off coupon via work.  I worked on a corporate campus that held 1,000s of people...that was just one campus in a densely populated business and residential area.

Is there a listing of all "the shows" somewhere...where/when are they...are they always in the same town, do they change are collectors reached......? 

Anyone know Oprah??  We get on her favorite things list this year and we're set :crackup: (kidding bear_grin ..but um ...anyone know Oprah)


Daphne Back Road Bears
Laconia, NH USA
Posts: 6,568

There are various sites that list shows but there is no site that has a complete list. I was looking the other night... wondering if perhaps I should start one.  bear_wacko 

There is a catch 22 to all of this......... mass mailings or distributing mass amounts of coupons costs money to print and for postage. If you are offering a discount coupon as well there goes more money that would have helped cover the costs and the number of attendees to a show as a result of these costly efforts is unpredictable.

HOWEVER.... I am a huge believer in promoting a show to the public.

Local TV stations and occasionally a radio station will often list your event as a community service on their calendar of events, free of charge. The local Chamber of Commerce will allow flyers at their info booth. A local newspaper might be interested in doing an editorial on the show... one paper did this for my show the Wednesday before the show. And the promoter should saturate the area the show is being held in with posters, or at least have someone who is local hand them out.

But there must be more ways to promote a show that cost effective?????!!!!

Oprah...... now that's a great idea!!! And maybe it's time Martha Stewart learned how to make teddy bears!!!!

sarahjane Brisbane
Posts: 2,951

Isn't there a show in Australia that's at a mall?

I'll jump in here although I don't know much about it but there is a show here in a couple of weeks that is held in a mall (shopping centre)...I think it may be the first year, it will be interesting to see how it goes.

Here is the link

I think Lisa...(Megelles ) has something to do with the organisation.

chrissibrinkley Posts: 1,836
Daphne wrote:

There is a catch 22 to all of this......... mass mailings or distributing mass amounts of coupons costs money to print and for postage. If you are offering a discount coupon as well there goes more money that would have helped cover the costs and the number of attendees to a show as a result of these costly efforts is unpredictable.

HOWEVER.... I am a huge believer in promoting a show to the public.

But there must be more ways to promote a show that cost effective?????!!!!

Here's what I'm thinking ...most small, mid sized and large corporations have a human resource and/or community involvement departments.  Most would MUCH prefer an emailed, printable coupon sent to them...less paper for them to deal with and distribution for them is a simple click to an email list.  All you have to do is make the initial call to get the contact person and the "ok" to send your pdf coupon (Coupon page containing web site info, bold headlines, ask to share with a friend, coupon needed for "special" door prize entry).  Instead of mass mailing in a community, run a single ad in the local paper with the admission coupon. Again, no printing and postage costs.
If the goal is to reinvent or rejuvenate the show circuit the coupon may not be the worst thing to get people in the door. New people who may not have even known of the existence to begin with.


Daphne Back Road Bears
Laconia, NH USA
Posts: 6,568

Chrissi.... a pdf file of the coupon to human resources.... what a brilliant idea!!

A newspaper ad is indeed the most cost effective in my mind and when I folks filled out their door prize entries they were asked how they heard about the show... most all named one of the newspapers I advertised in. I did not do a coupon because it didn't even occour to me until after I'd submitted the ads but it's something I'll do in the future. A great way to get folks in AND track the effectiveness of your ad and the paper you put it in.

psichick78 Flying Fur Studios
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Posts: 3,073

wow girls, interesting conversation. I agree with you all!

We used to have a bear show every year here in my city, I've never heard about it untill it was gone and i started making bears. Too bad because I had always collected stuffed animals and i would've totally become a huge collector.

As for B4B. I feel bad, but I hate to take a huge hit on the price my bears fetch, just to hope that the site will do well, and Nancy makes alot of money. But, that being said, I appreciate her efforts, and if it picks up, I'll happily use it.

Isn't there another bear and doll auction site as well??

Daphne, you make my wheels spin. As I read all these posts, I get this crazy idea to bring the Calgary show back. It seems soo unfair that us in Western Canada have no real bear shows. I wouldn't even know where to begin, but the idea of a bear show is very exciting to me. I can't even imagine doing what you did, soo much work. But at the same time i can't stop thinking about it now.

Keep the talking coming. Although I'm a big fan of Ebay and the internet, bears shows have a certain appeal to them for sure.

Although, I can see why attendance is down for shows, not enough advertising and some people just like the convenience   of being able to shop on-line with hundreds of artists to choose from. Internet has changed the world, including the bear making one.

Chico, California
Posts: 9,939

Shelli Retired Help Advisor, Banner Sponsor

Wow.  What a fascinating topic this has become, and I'm enjoying how I can almost SEE the wheels spinning in some of your heads!

I'm incredibly new to bearmaking and have only one show under my belt, which I've now done twice.  So I know... nothing, or next to it.

But I have a few gut-level intuitions.

First... I think one of the reasons the show I do (Nevada City) has been successful for me and others is that it's associated with tradition. 

--  It's in it's 20-something-est year -- 24th?  25? -- come April 2007. 

--  Unless something intervenes, it's ALWAYS held on the first weekend of April.  Interestingly, that happens in 2007.  But historically people can "predict" when it will occur. 

--  It's a three-day show.  Meaning that if you catch the newspaper ad on Saturday, you can still go on Sunday.  And so on.

This doesn't help newcomers to the show circuit, except to suggest that maybe ESTABLISHING traditions will help people "know" when your particular show is upcoming next year.

Second... it's ALWAYS held in the same place, The Miner's Foundry.  The place itself is very charming, with old brick walls and creaky floors, and several connected levels where collectors are surrounded by bears and artists, but aren't overwhelmed with them.  They always serve food and they always provide entertainment.  Aisles are large enough to permit strollers.

This helps collectors know, if they hear casually that "The NC bear show is this weekend," WHERE TO FIND IT.

It may also be important to note that The Miner's Foundry is located smack-dab in the middle of a busy and charming downtown street.  So casual passer's by are easily enticed by the signage advertising the show.  And the entire downtown community gets into the spirit of things.  Local news crews are notified and arrive at the event to report and take pictures.  And shop owners post both signage about the show in their windows, AND place their own teddy bears in their window displays as a show of support, every single year.  So the COMMUNITY is involved, and not just the event venue itself.

It takes time to build up that kind of community interest and commitment, but with work, as you've described, it CAN be done.

Third... it's once a year, and it's juried.  So there is anticipation built up surrounding it.  People wait for it and save for it.  And they know that when they get there they will see bears worth the trip.  Something for everyone's tastes.

Fourth... there's a competition, if a casual and friendly one!, associated with the show.  Artists bring along work that they enter into the "Best of Show" event.  Visitors vote and winners are announced Saturday night after that day's close.  This means that it's not just a case of artists grabbing whatever they've got, but a case of them bringing along their BEST work, so as to be competitive. 

Fifth... There is a committee of helpers who assist the actual promoter, Charles Woods.  They are an incredibly kind-hearted and fun-loving bunch, and often can be seen walking around wearing teddy bear ears -- even the men!  Someone is always circulating and checking in and saying hello, and I think the artists feel tended to, and like there's a go-to group if something is needed.

So those are my observations on why this particular show, while smaller today than in the glory days past (I've been told -- I wasn't there to witness for myself), seems to be doing well.  There are collectors who arrive BEFORE the doors open on Friday.  I had two "let themselves in" even before THAT, last year!

As for group tables for international artists ... what a lovely idea.  It makes me want to contact Charles and ask if he would allow such a thing in NC.  I plan to show there again next April.  Doing shows stresses me out enormously, both mentally and financially, and I have lifestyle conflicts (kids, school, custody exchanges with their out of town dad) which make doing shows practically difficult.  But if I'm going, I might as well take along work from international artists as well!  Or ask Charles if he'd be willing to do so, on my recommendation (or Donna's, or Bev Dodd's, since they do this show regularly!)

I'll be watching to see how this all develops.  Keep talking!

tuppies teddies Tuppies Teddies
Lindenow, Central Gippsland
Posts: 1,969

Wow, some of these posts have a lot of reading in them.

Points I picked up were,  I have done local markets here in Australia and have had success. However one market I had been doing for 4 years and I did find that custom was thinning out over the last season.  Maybe due to cost of living rising in Australia and other things were more important to buy ( fruit & vedg) than teddy bears.
Have been selling on e-bay for about 8 months now and did start the bears off cheaply. But as mentioned on an earlier post the first bear did cover my cost and so the next 1 or 2 bears from the fur was all profit. As I make small to medium bears I usually get 2 maybe 3 out of a fat quater.

Another point that struck me was selling from a website. Quite a few said that can be a bit slow.  I haven't sold from my website yet but whenever I go anywhere I always have a handful of business cards in my pocket to hand out. Trying to get my name out there.

My bears are my hobby so I don't make and sell  bears to put food on the table, however my aim is ONE DAY to sell a bear at an unbelievable price ( for me that is )

Have learned a lot from this thread. bear_thumb  Thanks all

melissa Honeythorpe Bears
Wellington, New Zealand
Posts: 1,789

Hmmm jumping into this at the very end....

As an "international" bear artist...I naturally like the idea of an international artists table and would be willing to support it.  I'm lucky, making minis I guess in that postage costs are relatively low and I'm more than happy to send across bears that could travel to multiple shows.  The bear market here is very small and with just one good show a year that I attend here - my opportunities to sell bears really are limited to ebay (which isn't great for me), my site, and any overseas shows I can attend.

My only quibbles - the table would need to be fairly well set up so that people don't just see a mass of bears - as Luann mentioned in her post - if you see a big jumble that's crammed in tightly, people don't know where to look and are afraid to touch. 

The other sticking point is the insurance thing.  I fully accept that at any show I attend, insurance is my own responsibility - its up to me to keep an eagle eye on my table.  When you make bears not much bigger than an inch, it's really easy for someone to palm one without anyone noticing.  They can just slip it in a pocket and wander on out.  I've managed to keep my bears safe from someone at a show who I thought looked suspicious.  It turned out he'd already taken stuff from other people's tables so I was very lucky. 

So, in trusting my bears to a show that I wouldn't be attending, I'd want to have the assurance that the table would be attended by someone at all times and I'm sure this goes for everyone else too.

I'd be more than happy to accept bears back here - unfortunately the reality is - shows are verrrrrry small here, and people's knowledge of the international bear making world isn't great.  Also, our dollar sucks against the American - so bears that are $200-$300 US are going to be around $400-$500 New Zealand. 

Having said that, I do attend shows in Australia, where the exchange rate is better and the population bigger.  So, I'd be more than happy to work in with one of the Aussie guys at a show - I know that Hayley had some at Melbourne last year. 

You know...I think bear shows can be successful in this day and age - I think the public see the value in different promoters just as much as we do.  The last show I did here in New Zealand was one of the best I'd been to in years.  The promoters were new to the show (though they had organised one show previously about 4 years ago) and were taking over a rather sad rundown affair.  Mel from New Bearland has been to the show for several years running - and said last year was dire.  Anyway, these guys busted a gut - they had posters up all over town - and promoted the show on the whats on section of the local tv program.  Donna went on tv and took in some bears from her own collection that were made by artists attending the show.  it was in the paper and also the community newspapers (freebie local news type things) and she'd sent fliers to all the craft shops too.

There were people lining up outside the door (a rarity here!) and I think almost a thousand people came through the show which is amazing for here.  Four of us were new artists to the show, and people were buying.  The atmosphere was friendly (one visitor commenting that it was like they sprayed good atmosphere out of a can).  So I think there are buyers - it's a matter of us reaching them.

anyway that's my two cents worth!

Jodi Falk Bears by Jodi
Gahanna , Ohio USA
Posts: 3,463

3107 people have looked at this topic !!! Who are they ???? People are watching. Hi people !!!!! Do any of you have ideas that haven't shared? You collectors ??? What would you all like to see?

                                                              Jodi Falk

Daphne Back Road Bears
Laconia, NH USA
Posts: 6,568

Yes, please, come out from behind your computers and share with us!
We're trying to make this industry better for EVERYONE!!! That includes YOU!
We need your help! Your input is very welcome here!

Stitch SanguineCreations
Posts: 395

I hope you don't mind me doing this..
I thought I'd post as an eBay buyer rather than seller. I use eBay, not just for bargins, but I'm home-bound. I can't go to shows, shops to buy the things I want. I've been checking out the eBay for bears, recently. What grabs me? Well price is one thing, if they are priced low, I have wondered if the person is new to bear making, if something is wrong with the bear, wondered if I'm missing something and I've found myself going back and forth between bears to 'see' if I can figure out what's wrong.
I feel bears priced at a med to high price, the artists believes in, knows it's worth and has put heart and soul into.
Also, how the eBay bear has been 'shown' off, makes a difference. Some look so professional and some sadly look cheap. Photo's make a big difference. After all you can't  feel these bears, so the photo, has to say it all. They need to be clear and well thought out.
I'd say believe in yourselves and others will believe in you too.  As I said, I've been checking out the bears, I've bought none, so far. Why? Because I've seen checked out many different artists, and decided I'd rather save up and buy one of their bears in the future, than a cheap on now. Perhaps others do the same.

Jodi Falk Bears by Jodi
Gahanna , Ohio USA
Posts: 3,463


Sandy........Good thinkin girl !!! On E Bay I usually take 20 dollars off my retail price just to give the auction a runnung start. That way it usually bids up to my retail or just over. And if it does not then the collector gets a bargain.If I sold to a shop I would have to sell wholesale so I am still ahead. The only time I drop a price less, is at the end of a year I may have a few items that I just have the need to move them on their way to make room for the new ones for the coming year. There is nothing wrong with them, it is just that they may have been on e bay twice and not sold. I don't travel and do shows right now because of my job so I don't get the exposure I used to years ago when I did travel.So those lesser priced items are a real deal. AND IT ALSO ALLOWS THOSE COLLECTORS THAT DON'T HAVE MUCH MONEY TO GET A REALLY WELL DESIGNED TEDDY BEAR .

Sandy I do believe the artist needs to believe in them selves,and to hold the value of the artist teddy bear. Never sell one at a garage sale for $.50. That is so sad. We as artists need to let people see that the artist teddy bear is a piece of soft sculpture art and like all art it is a little expensive.

Thanks Sandy for your interest in sharing, I am sure other collectors are glad you did. You have a blessed day .

     Bear Hugs And Blessings from Above............Jodi Falk

Sandy to find out more about me as an artist go to this

Also check out my web sight.

Eileen Baird'sBears
Posts: 3,873

bear_original Sandy, is that a cheeky little ferret face in your avatar? Love it, whatever it is. bear_wub

I'm very glad you posted, Sandy. We need more input from collectors and eBay buyers on Teddy Talk.

I've been an official Bear Artist, self described, for about 15 months, and I'm still struggling with the issue of pricing. I have to admit that I'm  also still struggling with the art of photography!!

On my website, I've been pricing my creations at about $10 per inch of height, which is the minimum I'm willing to accept. I feel that I need to build a name and a following before I can fairly charge more. Rather than charge less, I'd prefer to keep my critters, or at least hold on to them and hope for another opportunity.

I've been advertising in TeddyBears&Friends, which is expensive, but it's brought me more than enough sales to pay for the ads. So far my TB&F ads and website have been much more profitable for me than eBay, but I want to keep trying for the eBay market.

I find eBay sales very difficult to strategize. After my mice didn't sell in a 7-day auction, I relisted them--it hurt, but I forced myself to try again. I've set their opening bids slightly below what I'd ask on the website, with no reserve, but maybe this is too high to attract bids. Or maybe it's too low to attract experienced collectors. Or maybe I need to keep slogging until buyers recognize me. Or maybe my photos are unappealing. I don't know. 

Maybe it's none of the above, and I just need to keep at it!

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