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bearhug07 Strange Bears
Posts: 444

Hi Everyone

As a show organiser in Sydney I am finding it increasingly difficult to find teddy bear artists willing to trade....and I do agree that it seems at times a waste of time to stand at a show with times being slow (and in Australia due to rising mortgage rates and petrol prices) money is very tight. So ebay and other auction sites seem to be a great alternative.

However I have an avid bear collector in my husband and he refuses to buy off ebay.....unless he can pick up a bear and examine it for quality he will not buy. Actually I do lie.....if he knows the artist he will consider buying off e-bay but very rarely. Due to my work I do talk to many collectors and they often mention the same sentiments that unless they know the artist they are hesitant to buy sight unseen, unless they can buy one bear dirt cheap and not feel ripped off if the quality they expect is not there.

So this to me seems a good argument to trade at some shows......however many artists don't seem to agree with me.

So I was just many of you have only sold on ebay? How many do both shows and e-bay? And if you do both were you well established on the show circuit before doing ebay?

Also one last question.....have you dropped shows since doing ebay and have you expanded your collector market since?

Sorry if this sounds all complicated but I am trying to establish if it is worth trying to continue to organise my show or is a lot of work and if the bear artists are fixed on ebay etc.......well it's just not worth the effort any more.

Jellybelly Bears Jellybelly Bears
Posts: 4,066

I love shows, I hope they don't quit altogether...I've heard through the grapevine, that maybe less shows, more quality may be better, get attendance up...this isn't from me, just what I've heard...but I love shows... as a browser that is.

Ebay and web site many of us wouldn't be here without our dear internet!  I wouldn't be and because I have to stay home due to illness most of the year, I do get upset when people bag it, because its my only outlet.  I hope that both can continue together...

I think because the internet is such a huge sale option now, collectors need to be more aware and onguard now, as you say Sandra, being able to see the bear before you buy is a huge benefit, and anyone can sell on ebay, no matter how experienced they are.  The only thing I have against the internet is that i suppose, quality may go down, and prices...some are listed so low that it makes it makes it difficult all round, for shows and other artists...I suppose its a problem that won't go away...I can't see any way around it...

SunnieOne Sunnie Bears
Ridgecrest, CA
Posts: 1,167

I do both. I started out on ebay and grew a large collector base there, But did my first show within 6 months of ebay. I actually enjoy the shows a whoile lot more than ebay. I really think we need to cater to BOTH crowds. My first show was slow, but it has steadily built up my clients. The thing I hate about ebay is that is you miss listing for a couple of weeks tha collectors tend to forget you and you have to start all over again.

Tami E Tami Eveslage Original Teddy Bears
Milford Ohio
Posts: 2,367

I never want to have shows end. I love meeting the collectors! (and other artists) I love traveling, too. I have never  been doing one who did a lot of shows ( one or two a year) and I am still doing the same althought it is difficult to try to get  bears for a show ready and have work on ebay at the same time.

Densteds Densteds
Posts: 2,056

Hi Sandra,

I absolutely love going to the shows, I love browsing and being able to actually pick the bears up and buy any bear supplies I might need...  it's such a shame to see them on the decline, but I can understand why artists have dropped off.. ebay makes it so much easier, that's the way I sell the majority of my bears, and so far I've been lucky enough to have sold all that I've listed, even though it might take a couple of trys at it..I also do a few commissions.

Do you organise the Mittagong show?? if so is it still on??

Just Us Bears Just Us Bears
Posts: 940

It's a difficult one for sure. I LOVE doing shows... the chance to meet customers face to face and see their reactions to my bears, the chance to meet other artists and share experiences and just in general for the whole 'feel' of it. I have only dabbled in ebay very briefly, but found I was forever handing over fees and not selling. I think unless you list weekly on ebay you don't develop the required 'presence' to gain people's interest, and it's a big committment which I think for me would suck all the enjoyment out of the sales.

My personal feeling about shows is that it's too expensive for those like myself who are not yet established names. Big names can pull big dollars for their bears and many only need to sell one bear to cover their costs. I will do any show that is within a few hours driving distance...but if I have to fly, mostly it's too cost inhibitive.

For instance..The Gold Coast Int. Teddy Bear Fair. Ball park figures here of course......$250 for the table, $250 return airfare,$400 for three nights accomodation, $40 short term parking for my car, $100 at least for food.....I'm down around $1000 before I even sell a bear. bear_sad
I have committed to do one interstate show per year, and am trying to look at it purely as advertising.

I know how extra exciting the Melbourne shows are when we get interstate artists joining adds to the magic.

But how many can afford to do two or more interstates per year. Is there something you can do to make traders choose your show over say the Gold Coast Int. Teddy Bear Fair if it comes down to making a choice? I know there is discounted accomodation to stay at Jupiters...but even with the discount, it's hefty if you're trying to save costs. I need to find accomodation for around $90 a night to make it 'do' able.

I think many people will follow the shows that have the best reputation for drawing the least they can be sure then that they are giving their work the best chance possible of selling.

I wonder if it would be a possiblity for the major state show promoters to get together (via email of course~!) and maybe offer a discount for those who book to do more than two shows...sort of as an incentive to commit ahead of time and also so the promoters can use their names to help draw the crowds and other artists.
Unless the big shows can continue to draw interstate traders, I can't see them surviving. But I understand you have to make something from the shows, even if it's all going to charity or why do all that organising?

From what I have seen, if an artist thinks the crowds will come...they'll be there rain hail or shine...but if the crowds are in doubt, safer to save the money. I think it's a catch 22 as well....the crowds don't come so the artists don't come so the crowds don't come...etc. So where the buck stops is anyones guess. I guess it all boils down to everyone needing to be committed to making the shows successful, and then maybe the newbies like myself can be lucky enough to experience another teddy bear boom. But last time it happened...there wasn't an ebay to contend with. bear_ermm

edie Bears by Edie
Southern Alberta
Posts: 2,068

Well, I started off doing shows (for about 10 years or so!) and only got into ebay after the shows  in my area ceased to exit.  Having moved out to the country it isn't as convenient to fly to shows that are farther away now - plus it is so expensive you have to be sure the show will be worthwhile! Ebay is easy for sure but I find it very frustrating as the prices the bears bring seems to vary so much, and I am never sure why some sell so well and others don't! It really seems to me that the buyers I have from ebay are a whole different crowd than what I had doing shows with only a few overlaps! It really was like starting again getting established there. I would hate to see the shows end as I really did love doing shows and hope to get to again some day. Actually, not just so much the shows as the whole convention thing with workshops, socializing and networking in addition to the sales.

bearhug07 Strange Bears
Posts: 444

Hi Denise

Yes I do organise Mittagong and every year there is a roumour it's not on.......but it is next weekend November 12th.....but maybe the rumour will be true next year about it closing as I  am very disheartened by the response of the ber artists this year.....I have lots of doll artists and almost no bear artists......very very diheartening.

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

There will always be both.

Shows likely haven't hit rock bottom yet. (Horrors! A promoter saying this?????) And many will die off. But the good ones will survive and those will be the first ones to grow again as the new wave of collectors eventually jumps on board the collector band wagon.

Let's face it.... the days of highly successful shows were in the late 90's if I'm correct... before the internet was THE place to be and many of those folks likely didn't even have a computer! Those collectors are now older and downsizing - whether because of retirement and an income change, moving to a smaller home, having too many bears, etc. So there are less of them coming to shows. The younger crowd that collects is very computer savvy so they buy off the internet.

How do we: a) get the younger internet collectors away from their computers and out to shows and b)cultivate new collectors as the old collectors fade from the scene?

How do we make eBay and Shows go hand in hand? It shouldn't a "VERSUS"..... artists need to realize that by participating at shows they'll build a collector base up who will then shop eBay or their website between shows. And developing a following on ebay then notifying those collectors of the shows your doing might make some of them realize that there actually ARE teddy bear shows to go to and they'll begin looking for them. (As we all know, not all shows are advertised very well!)

We need to find a way to make both work in our favor.

Just Us Bears Just Us Bears
Posts: 940

Atta girl Daph! We all need to drink some of your 'POSITIVE' juice!!
And you are right in everything you say too. bear_thumb

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

We need to go after the new collector base... they are out there,we just need to stick with it no matter how we choose to sell our art. And we all know how addictive teddy bears are !! Its just a matter of time bear_grin

matilda Matilda Huggington-beare
Posts: 5,551

I'm sorry I cant add anything. I dont have any experience base from which to draw from.

I absolutely LOVE going to all the fairs we have here in Perth. And one of theses days I'm going to get myself to the Queensland Show as a spectator. I just cant make enough critters in order to become a seller.
I dont know how you guys do it.
I find Ebay way to big. I get lost within it. So I much rather hang out in forums like TT. If it wasnt for TT, I would never have started a collection bear_thumb I would never have grown as an artist either.
As has been stated..If there is a way to harmoniously combined the internet and fairs  ....................??

sarahjane Brisbane
Posts: 2,951

I love going to shows, but I must admit that I have only tried to sell on Ebay (and not very successfully)In my situation with 6 kids, one father and a husband I find that the time needed for shows and also the lump sum financially make shows impossible for me at the moment. I'm hoping that next year I may be able to save enough to do a one day show (a two day show would be out of the question)..I'm also hoping that as the kids grow older and more self sufficient I will be able to expand my horizons a bit.  bear_original

It would be a real shame to see the shows closing down because of Ebay and the internet, I'm sure there must be a way to have them compliment each other rather than take from each other.

chris009av Real Deal Bears
Posts: 2,234

I have been selling on Ebay for awhile now, and for the first time traded at a show this year.
I must admit I am now totally adicted to shows  bear_grin
I had such a great time I want to do it again!!!!!
My plans are to do a few interstate ones, but as I would be going by myself, I need to get up the courage first.
I was thinking of doing a Sydney show as my first interstate show, so I hope by the time my courage is up they haven't all disapeared.  bear_sad

bearhug07 Strange Bears
Posts: 444

Well I thinkDaphne is right too..........we need to find a way for both the shows and internet work hand in why don't we put our collective heads together here and try and find a way for us to make it work for us.......for artists who can't afford tables to eb able to afford them........ to those artists who don't want to do shows to be encouraged back to doing one ot two shows... if possible... and


importantly how to encourage that collector base off thier butts and away for their computers and through the doors of the shows!!!

We need ideas....amd more ideas..

bearlyart Canna Bear Paint
Posts: 749

Two predictions...
- Bear shows definitely will not disappear, there is no substitute for a bear show!
- Promoters who refuse to adapt to a changing marketplace will be the ones whose shows do not survive.

In my own experience... my mother and I are still fairly new artists.  In 2005, we decided to try the "little bit of everything" approach to selling.  We tried shows, our web site, eBay, stores, magazines, and anything else we could think of.  Hands down our best results came from shows, and our most inconsistent (or bad) results from eBay.  So we made the decision that this year, 2006, we would concentrate on what worked best "for us".  We participated in 11 in-person shows (last one this weekend then the 12th is online!).  Our sales ranged from acceptable to great at the majority of those shows.  We have not offered bears on eBay all year.  Certainly, I would rather have the convenience of sitting at home to make an eBay sale than making a tiring, costly, time-consuming trip somewhere... and we've spent all year sewing our hands off to keep up a constant stream of new stock for that many show tables!  But all of the benefits of doing shows have far outweighed the negatives "for us". 

You'll notice I'm saying "for us".  If there's one thing that I've learned, it's that everyone needs to find what works best FOR THEM.  Our bears aren't your bears, and vice versa, so should they be expected to sell equally well in the same venues?  They won't!  The best advice I can give is to try a little bit of as much as you can try... then analyze the results and do the best you can.

It's funny though, over this year and last year, we're starting to get a really lovely group of collectors.  And they came from just about all of those venues that we've tried at one time or another.  Some from shows, some from our web site, some from magazines, and even some from eBay.  They are all wonderful people, they mean a lot to us and it reminds us to keep trying different approaches in the future... you never know where your next collector is waiting to find you!

(And yes, it did occur to us that IF we try eBay again in the future, at least we will be approaching it with a larger established collector base.  It can't hurt.)


Densteds Densteds
Posts: 2,056
bearhug07 wrote:

Hi Denise

Yes I do organise Mittagong and every year there is a roumour it's not on.......but it is next weekend November 12th.....but maybe the rumour will be true next year about it closing as I  am very disheartened by the response of the ber artists this year.....I have lots of doll artists and almost no bear artists......very very diheartening.

Hi Sandra,
I'm so pleased to hear it's still on, it's a great show and you really do a fantastic job organising it...I go every year and really enjoy it, sorry to hear not many bear artists are participating this time, but I'll still be going anyway....I live at The Oaks out of Camden so it's a lovely drive down to the Southern Highlands, a beautiful part of the world...I'm looking forward to it..

jenny Three O'clock Bears
warwickshire uk
Posts: 4,413

I can see this predicament looming very large right now as I am preparing for a show. The problem is that I have 14 bears a bunny and two cats in the living room all awaiting attention for a fair next week. I am flat broke as I haven't sold anything for weeks because I am stock piling and I may not sell anything. I've laid out about £200 so far and annoyed my customers by not coming through with any new bears.

I might have a great day at the fair..I have sold out many times..but is it worth the hassle of getting up at 4am..working till late..and the risk involved isn't worth the money I'd get back because I would have sold them by now, one at a time from my website..or on ebay.

Fairs are harder work..but I love them..I love the buzz of meeting other artists, seeing their work..saying hello to my regular collectors..introducing my bears to new collectors..all that.
But my goodness me I couldn't do more than 3 a year's damn near finished me off!!

That is why I don't jump at every fair.. plus, I pick and choose because there are too many fairs now..and the good ones are being leeched off by the poor ones because new artists book them as they are often cheaper, they have a wash out day and resolve  never to do another one.. you can see why the downward spiral happens...and I always shout from the roof tops 'don't book the fairs that don't advertise or are in poor venues' .. I did a well established fair last year in Leeds and there wasn't a visible sign on the road and it was absolutely terrible..a waste of time and money.

Ask organisers who attends the fairs then contact the artists and ask them, ask was it a good will find out if it's a worthwhile exercise. I think the established fairs are having a hard time too because of this. That's not to say new ones can't be successful ..on the contrary..they just need to be different and encourage established and new artists with good, interesting bears..instead of offering tables to anyone who can do a backstitch or get hold of a job lot of manufactured junk, which is what some organisers do, sadly.

Organisers are having a hard time..but everything is slow at the moment...not just bear collecting. I think the problem is that most artists only make one or two bears a week..and if they can sell them on-line they are not going to put themselves through trauma to build stock for fairs if they don't have to.

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

Hi Sandra

I started out selling at shows here in New Zealand and then started on ebay a couple of years ago.  I waaaaaaaay prefer shows as I love the connection with people.  But - there is just one tiny fair a year in the region where I live - any other show I attend means flights, and acommodation.  I actually sell most of my bears via the website not ebay and have come to form relationships with some of my regular collectors.
My collector market most certainly has grown since being online and even on ebay - and I don't do especially well on ebay since I'm not there that often.

I did commit to doing one show a year in Australia (going to the MTE when it was still happening) and am looking at other aussie shows for next year.  I have to count those as holidays with perhaps a tiny bit of spending money coming for bears as they cost in excess of $1000 for me to go to and I wouldn't make that much in sales.  I also prefer to buy at shows, though I will buy from people I feel I 'know' on the inthernet

The thing that does put me off shows - so many of them are badly organised nowadays and I feel like the considerable money I pay is going to the organisers pocket not into the much needed advertising that will bring in buyers.   The silly thing is - it's often not the expensive $$ wise advertising that is most effective but the hard work stuff of putting up flyers, issuing press releases, using community tv, visiting stores for promotion etc that promoters don't want to seem to take the time to do.

Now, I know that's not true of all shows by a long shot - I know that people here on tt have organised fantastic shows and have been to great shows....but it seems a lot of shows are getting left by the wayside.

hmm so I will never give up shows entirely - but I will continue to supplement them with online selling in some form.

gotobedbears Posts: 3,177

However I have an avid bear collector in my husband and he refuses to buy off ebay.....unless he can pick up a bear and examine it for quality he will not buy. Actually I do lie.....if he knows the artist he will consider buying off e-bay but very rarely. Due to my work I do talk to many collectors and they often mention the same sentiments that unless they know the artist they are hesitant to buy sight unseen, unless they can buy one bear dirt cheap and not feel ripped off if the quality they expect is not there.

WELL! there's a nice howdedoody for you! Cheeky beggers! What a rum attitude to have to bears and their makers.............As they say, you pay peanuts you get monkeys (or is it elephants? - whatever).

Times are changing and bear artists are sick of spending stacks of cash and travelling for hundreds of miles to arrive at a show that has only 25 visitors 4 of which just came in out of the rain! Shows are fabulous but only the better run ones - attendence is down dramatically so artists are turning to eBay and other online forms of selling because either they can't or won't risk throwing any more cash on attending shows.
I know people that only do 1 or 2 shows a year and they make sure they are big ones.
I can't blame them to be honest - i only did one. Fell asleep by midday but luckily it was so quiet nobody disturbed me!
:crackup:  :crackup:

If an artist offers a full refund if the buyer is not happy with it where is the problem with buying via the internet?
People buy bloody brides for chrissakes................surely people can buy a bear?

Penny  :hug:

P.S. i love shows and won't rule out doing some in the future, but only the better and bigger ones. I love meeting other bear artists but i don't expect to be £300 out of pocket for a social event when after all, i am at a show to make some money.

jenny Three O'clock Bears
warwickshire uk
Posts: 4,413

People buy bloody brides for chrissakes................surely people can buy a bear?

Nice one Penny... :crackup: You are too right..there are so many things procured unseen over the internet that I'd say a teddy or two would be the least of peoples problems!!

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

I have been selling my bears on e-bay for about 12 months now, and am sort of happy with how they have been going.  E-bay can be a bit fickle.

The other avenue of sale for me here in Australia are craft markets. Some may say but true teddy collecters don't go to craft markets.

I have found that over the 4 years that I have been doing them I have had some customers come back.  I always make sure I have plenty of business cards to hand out that has my website on it.

Cost of these markets can range from $10 to $25 ( thats Aussie dollars )

The plus for this is they are local and not far from home, no airfares.

One market we do twice a year is $77 for the day, it is situated about 15 minutes from home, about 300 stall holders ranging from hand-made goods to yummy food.
We always do well at this market.

To explain the "we" my husband makes woodcraft products so our stall is a combined effort.

So, my selling avenues are e-bay, craft markets and when we are travelling around our beautiful country in our caravan I take a few bears with me and have managed to sell most of them.

Now, I am thinking of having a go at a bear show next year, won't know what it is like until I give it a try.

Nothing ventured nothing gained....

All Bear All Bear by Paula
Posts: 5,162

I believe that to do your work full justice, you need to be broad-minded, working hard to offer your work in as many productive outlets as possible.  To focus on a single retail opportunity is short sighted.  For example, if Ebay is working well for you now and you neglect shows, magazine advertising, website etc., who's to say they will still work for you when Ebay slows?  To achieve consistently good sales, I think it is essential to maintain and continually develop a profile by juggling all opportunities! 

At the moment, I find my website works best for me, but I still make a point of exhibiting at two or three big shows during the year, advertising as far as my budget will allow and using Ebay when appropriate.  I also find it works well to use one medium to enhance another ... ie., using the website to promote a show, or an Ebay auction, or a magazine article.

I certainly wouldn't drop the shows for Ebay, but on the other hand, I would definitely drop a poor show in favour of selling online via my website, simply because it makes more financial sense.  However, if that was the case, I would probably seek out another show to try and replace the one that no longer worked for me, so that I can still put myself 'out there' in front of customers who like to visit the bears in person.  Often they are the customers who come back mail order year after year, once they have had an opportunity to make their first purchase at a show.

Aleta - The Silly Bear The Silly Bear
Portland, Oregon
Posts: 3,119

Hi Sandra,  bear_flower
After reading all of the posts, I don't know that there are any easy answers.  What works well for some, doesn't work for others.  You'll even get varying opinions as to how well people do at this show or that show.....even if it's a "BIG" show.  The same holds true for eBay, or internet sales for that matter.

Quite frankly, it's really hard to do it all.  Speaking strictly for myself, mind you....It takes incredible time management skills and no hiccups along the way to steer you off track.  In order to make all the venues work, I must make a minimum of three bears a week.  One for sale on my site, one set aside for shows, and one for eBay.  We all know if you want to make eBay work for you, you have to be consistent there.  Already I'm behind one bear, because lately, I can only manage to create two bears a week.  So, with that in venue falls by the wayside.

Consider the artist that can only make one bear a week...or perhaps less.  It becomes a choice as to the best venue that suits the individual.  We've all heard from several artists that preparing for a show takes away from their internet sales and many depend on that income.  Do you see where I'm going here?  It's a pick one situation and the easiest solution seems to be the internet.

Moving on to shows now.  I love the teddy bear shows!!  I enjoy the social aspect of meeting collectors and other artists.  I'd be really sad to see shows die.  I've enjoyed going as an exhibitor and as a collector.  I've made the effort to do both.  I'm very lucky though.  Our household doesn't depend on my income.  That makes a HUGE difference especially since combined show sales for me this year were only a break even.  Of course, I was doing the more costly convention shows which run up higher tabs on food and lodging just due to the length of the show. 

In my experience, there are two types of collectors.  Show collectors and internet collectors.  I find my show collectors wait to buy from me in person and have never purchased from me online.  I don't get the crossover sales that Paula gets.  There again, what works for one doesn't necessarily work for another. 

We're all unique with a unique set of circumstances and responsibilities.  A show has to be profitable for an artist in order for them to continue doing it.  The same holds true for the internet. 

The other day I peeked in on eBay and there were five, FIVE!, pages of new bears listed....and that was just in the Artist, OOAK section!!  Speaking strictly as a collector, I was weary after scrolling through three of the pages.   bear_sad 

I'm not trying to pop anyones pretty pink bubble here.  The bottom line:  It's retail, no matter how you want to sell it.  Price, promotion.....and survival of the fittest.

Warmest bear hugs,  :hug:

Jane Perala Jane Perala Designs Ltd.
Vancouver Island, B.C., Canada
Posts: 819

I for one, really enjoy shows, however they are no longer available in Western Canada.  I did several shows a year before they vanished, but  now I rely on ebay, my web site, wholesale shop sales, and orders.
I sure hope Heather manages to bring the Calgary show back!!  It's a long travel for me, but I'd do it in a heartbeat!

Jane P.

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