I recently returned from Aruba. One of the highlights of the trip was looking at (and buying) local crafts from vendors at the timeshare where we stayed. This year I saw Aruban artists joined by an American, Doris Iversen. Doris makes beautiful handcrafted bead crochet and wire jewelry encompassing polymer clay. She has vacationed for many years in Aruba, and some years back when she was crocheting at the pool, the activities director asked if she would like to sell her work along with the local artists. It added variety to the selection, and she wouldn’t be competing with locals. Today when she makes her annual trip, she brings all the jewelry she can to sell at the twice-a-week evening events.
As I look back on other travels, I recall similar examples: the painter selling her work in the lobby of a small hotel in Hawaii and the artist-in-residence at the Art Colony Shops at the Greenbrier. If you live in an area frequented by vacationers or even vacation yourself in one particular spot, you might consider this as a possible sales outlet. Here are some tips to get you started:
1. Look at where you live or where you vacation. Spend some time going to resorts and seeing if they offer art or crafts events. Stop in the local galleries or crafts shops and ask if they know of any options. And, at the same time, you might ask about consignment or crafts purchasing. Some of this you may find out with an Internet search or a phone call.
2. If you want to consider contacting specific hotels ahead of time, look for the resources from AAA. Its destination guides will list details on hotels. You’ll also find information on its website (www.aaa.com). The American Hotel and Lodging Association (www.ahla.com) produces an annual guide of members’ establishments that is available to Allied Members or through STR Global (www.strglobal.com). As the cost is relatively high, you might want to look for a copy at the reference desk at your library.
3. Check with your state crafts guild. They may know of arts and crafts outlets. For example, in West Virginia, Tamarack: The Best of West Virginia is a statewide collection of handmade crafts, art and specialty food. It’s run by the Tamarack Foundation whose mission is “to preserve West Virginia’s cultural heritage and the development of a strong, creative economy through its work in the improvement, growth and support of arts-related industries.” From its beginnings in 1994, Tamarack has grown to represent 2,800 artisans. It is located just off I-77 and welcomes half a million visitors annually to its facility.
4. When you do find opportunities, questions to consider include:
· What fees are involved to participate? This could be a table fee or a commission on your work. You may need to join an organization.
· How do they advertise the crafts?
· Can you set up a sales table for conventions at larger hotels/resorts?
· Can you talk to some of the participating artists and get their experiences?
5. When contacting in person, go armed with business cards, brochures and a sample or two of your work. Nothing sells like seeing the real thing.
If you’ve had experience selling your work in a resort setting, please share with our other readers.
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