This happened to a friend of mine and fellow crafter this weekend and wanted to pass it on as a warning.
From my friend:
Well, I'm back after a useless day at OLTA, and I have a warning for any St. Louis artisans or crafters who may be contacted by Don Erickson or Art Coop in the future. OLTA's outside booths took place in a back parking lot behind a building--invisible from the street, and complete with an overflowing malodorous dumpster on the booth site. There were no signs, no street traffic, no promotion whatsoever. The only way to OLTA's 'fair' was a slummy alleyway strewn with overgrown weeds and broken glass. The earliest vendors had to actually clean drywall off the lot when they arrived, and ended up not being able to use half the space they cleared because of the black mold.
The only street promotion visible was some yellow chalk arrows hastily drawn on the sidewalk. Last I checked, yellow chalk and broken glass didn't cost $90 per vendor. Don claims to have spent $800 promoting this event, yet he can't produce even one concrete instance of actual advertising.
Don't get me wrong, I've vended booths where I haven't made money. This isn't simply sour grapes on my part. But I've done a lot of these events and this is above and beyond simple bad luck. This is neglect bordering on consumer fraud.
From all appearances, this is a case where someone spent almost no money and simply expected to pocket all of it for handing out booth space without promoting the event or even cleaning up the parking lot where it was to be held. The stench from the dumpster was disgusting. Equally deplorable is the fact that several vendors made a trek from Chicago and Kansas City who are now out not only $45 of their $90 booth fee (he agreed to refund half our fees, although I'll believe it when I see it.) but their gas and time as well.
The fair didn't get one client. Not one. Had we gotten lookers but no buyers, I'd chalk it up to a bad economy, but we didn't get any lookers. Schlafly wasted beer serving no one, Mangia Italiano wasted food serving no one, bands played to no one in a hot parking lot. Several vendors mentioned having a similar experience with him during previous events, so I'd say he's making a habit of it.
For that reason, I have to put this out and warn everyone who might likewise be swindled by him. Tell your friends, tell your blogs, tell any crafty forums you're a member of. Crafters put too much money and time into their wares, they deserve not to be taken advantage of.