The Waiting Game

So recently we talked about how much it can suck to get the dreaded rejection notice from a craft show. In addition to that though, there’s also the lovely purgatory of being waitlisted. Since that status can come with its own set of mixed feelings, let’s talk this one through too, shall we?

Why did I get waitlisted?

I am gonna rip this one straight from the Decisions, decisions post:

The key to the entire jurying process is balance. We are building a show with the right number of vendors, especially within a category, selling the right mix of goods, in harmony with the other vendors who will be there.

You could very well be a vendor who’s gotten into our shows lots of times in the past, but as we were balancing the show, and especially as we were balancing your particular category, we needed to make sure we had the right mix.

Does anyone ever actually get taken off the WL?

In the not-quite-two-weeks since the decisions went out, we’ve already pulled four people off the waitlist. People’s plans change, which creates openings in the show. I won’t give you false hope: the closer we get to the show, the less likely you are to be contacted, but there’s still a chance. There have been plenty of shows where, despite a vendor’s best intention of being there on show day, life has happened and they can’t make it, and we find out just days before the show. We never want to have an open booth if we can avoid it, so we will try to fill it – even with only a day or two to go.

We typically try to do a one-for-one switch between the person who can’t make it and the person we want to replace them. So a 2-D artist with an indoor booth is most likely – but not always – going to be replaced by someone in the same category with the same booth preference. If someone on the waitlist fits our needs to balance the show, even if it’s not a direct match, then we’ll select them as appropriate. We cast votes as a group for who comes off the waitlist, much as we voted during the initial jury process.

What can I do to get off the WL?

This feels incredibly obvious to state, but the first thing you can do is be nice. I know that the sting of being waitlisted can sometimes feel just as bad as the sting of getting a hard “no, thanks,” but take a few deep breaths before you let your feelings get too bitter.  There have been times when people have emailed us a snippy reply to their waitlist notification, or even said something in person to one of the jurors. Remember: we know how it feels too. We’re just trying to make the best possible show for our customers and the other vendors. Being less-than-nice isn’t going to help you.

The second key is flexibility. If an indoor vendor can’t make the show, and you selected “outdoor only” as your preference, then we’re less likely to ask you to join the show. If your application had strict preferences for your booth set-up, or if you indicated other restrictions on your ability to participate, that makes it harder for us to slot you in to an available booth. Similarly, and there’s not much anyone can do about this, we’re more likely to take a local person at the last minute than to ask someone three states away to make plans for a trip to Richmond with practically no notice.

How can I avoid being waitlisted next time?

The advice here is very similar to what was mentioned in the Decisions, decisions post:

  • Take great photos. Here are some more quick reminders of photo do’s and don’ts:
    • Let us see the details in some photos, and the variety of what you do in other photos.
    • The best background for indie craft shows is plain white. The lightbox we use personally is literally hacked together out of an old drawer from our kitchen, some dowels and scrap wood, a long piece of white canvas, two clamp lamps from the hardware store, and white trashbags to diffuse the light. (I’ll have to post a pic some day – it’s kind of hilarious how ridiculous it looks.) But can you tell how janky it is when we send in app photos? Heck no.
    • Fine arts craft shows typically prefer a black-to-white gradient background, which is fine if that’s the set-up you have.
    • Focus on the thing you want us to see. Crop accordingly. If you’re photographing your earrings and they’re hanging off a teacup’s edge, make sure the teacup isn’t the star of the photo. And really, maybe rethink the teacup as a prop entirely. Props should be relevant.
    • Follow the sizing guidelines. We’ve seen too many apps with thumbnail-size photos that get grainy and blurry when they’re expanded for app viewing. If you’re not technically savvy, some quick googling will lead you to sites in plain English that can help. (I know this from my own experience!)
    • Stay away from Instagram filters, unless you’re a photographer and that’s your thing.
  •  Again, tell us why you’re different from other vendors. It’s okay to say that you’re inspired by nature, but a lot of people are too. Instead of generic “nature,” tell us that you’re inspired by the feeling of sitting at a campfire at 9:30 on a summer’s night when the very last tinges of sunlight are fading, and the birds are settling in for the night with their last chirps. Instead of saying that you screenprint t-shirts, tell us that you source them from American-spun cotton, and American-sewn factories, and that you screenprint with eco-friendly inks that are designed to wear well. Differentiate yourself from other people in your category.
  • Try, try again. Show us new stuff. Keep making awesome things.

What else?

Did I miss any of your questions about the waitlist? Let us know!