A Unique Experience

Paper mâché dogs, ceramic tigers, and a miniature Claude Monet–these pieces and thousands of others stood on display during Art Festival Beth-El’s 49th show. With such an expansive and unique collection, it became clear years ago that Temple Beth-El needed the right program to manage it all.

What started with a handful of artists selling their work has transformed into St. Petersburg, Florida’s main art extravaganza. A panel of judges invite 180 artists to send in their best pieces, ranging from glass, wood, metal, ceramics, photography, paintings, and mixed media. To support this event, and fund the temple’s youth program, the community is invited to stop by and shop around. With artwork shipped in from across the country– and across the world–the event is truly a unique experience. 

No space is left unused at the temple. Outdoor statues surround the perimeter and glass vases sit by the windows. The hallways host countless items, while the main room contains fine art of all shapes and sizes. Even the library displays intricate sculptures. The boutique is another hot spot for attendees, where they can browse jewelry, scarves, and other handcrafted pieces. 

Those who donate before the show begins are treated to a preview of the event and can use their donations to buy artwork. Guests can also purchase “Temple Bucks” (special Art Festival certificates) for themselves or loved ones to use at the show. 

On average, 10,000 guests attend the festival each year. With proper COVID-19 protocols in place, such as face masks and social distancing, 2022’s show went off without a hitch. But it couldn’t have thrived without the hard work from volunteers. 

Over 200 volunteers help with the event, including cashiers, docents, set-up, and other roles. Many have volunteered for years–and remember how much it’s transformed.

“I Can’t Imagine How We’d Do Inventory Without This”

Pam Sekeres, festival volunteer since 1998 and long-time chairwoman, suggested the change from pencil and paper to a point of sale system. After finding out about Artisan, the team adapted the way they accept art pieces – and found the process to be much easier than before. Weeks prior to the show, artists send an inventory sheet of their products to Sekeres, who inputs their information (artist name, artwork title, price) into the system. Before the event begins, there’s a clear understanding of how many pieces they have and who they belong to. 

There are plenty of other features the volunteers enjoy. Nan Bugatch, a member of the art festival committee, loves Artisan’s label creation tools. “No one wants to hand write hundreds of tags,” says Bugatch. “We have thousands of pieces. I used to have to write tags for every single one.” The boutique itself holds hundreds of items–with some requiring unique, tiny tags. “It’s great to not have to do that anymore.” 

She also likes Artisan’s reports, saying, “I can check what artwork we had before the show and after the show. It’s really nice to have.” She confessed that she’s wary of technology and doesn’t use the program as much as her volunteers, but sees how her team has adapted to the program over the years. 

“It’s very user-friendly,” says her daughter, Samantha Bugatch. “We’ve had plenty of volunteers come in to help with the festival and learn the program quickly. I know she could, too.”

Susan Burnett, veteran volunteer since 2009, is grateful for Artisan’s inventory abilities. “Pam inputs all of the pieces into Artisan, and then we’re all able to see who bought what item. I can’t imagine how we’d do inventory without this.” 

While the volunteers have used the original version of Artisan since 2005, some are ready for the latest edition. With its ability to support newer technology such as tablets and portable data terminals, they believe 4.5 and beyond can help them speed up their process even more. 

Still, the older version has withstood multiple challenges throughout the years. Many remember when a power outage occurred in the middle of the event. While this might have spelled disaster for other POS systems, Artisan was able to regroup.

With David Roberts, one of Artisan’s founders on-site, the team got back up to speed. With CerTek’s headquarters just under an hour away, it’s easy for Roberts to attend the festival each year and provide assistance when necessary. After 17 years, Roberts has formed close friendships with many of the volunteers, and it’s this support that helps the event run even smoother. 

Roberts usually arrives a few days before the festival begins to start setting up each station. All ten registers require a laptop, barcode scanner, credit card reader, and printer, connected remotely to a local Artisan server. 

Nearly 2,000 items were accounted for in Artisan in 2022, ranging from $10 to over $9,000. Each requires its own barcode or tag, printed from the program itself. The labels are affixed directly onto the piece, if the surface allows for it, on a pedestal, or next to the item. If a product is sold, a red sticker is placed next to the barcode. Patrons can read more about the art and the artists via a descriptive plaque, also printed from Artisan, beside each piece. Some pieces can even be specially ordered–another useful tool within Artisan. 

When patrons see an item they want to purchase, they write down the item code from the tag onto an order sheet and take it to the cashier’s desk. The cashier looks up the item code in the program, creates a sale, and processes the payment. If the item is small and able to be carried out, like an item from the boutique, the patron can leave with the piece. Larger or more delicate pieces are picked up by the customer the following week. Any artwork that isn’t sold is shipped back to the artists. If the artists are local, the pieces are kept at the temple until they come by to pick them up. 

Every piece must be carefully tracked from arrival to the temple until it’s sold and taken away. Artisan handles this efficiently thanks to its inventory tracking and activity system. When volunteers pull up the item, they can see if the item is still in stock. They can also view the date it was received into Artisan and when (or if) a sale occurred. 

Various reports also help them identify specific details about the event. If an artist shipped in multiple items, the volunteers can run a Merchandise Performance Analysis report to see which items were purchased from that specific artist. Since the festival runs over a period of three days, it’s useful to generate a Day End report to see how sales vary from one point in time to the next. 

Regardless of what features are used, it’s clear that having in-depth sales and inventory information in one place–Artisan– lets the show run smoother. 

Ongoing Support

CerTek Software is thrilled, and grateful, to support such a unique event. To be the resource the festival uses to keep tabs on valuable artwork is something the company doesn’t take lightly. 

Providing on-site support for the event has allowed Roberts to see first-hand how well Artisan adapts to Art Festival Beth-El’s needs. He’s grateful that he’s been able to work with such a dedicated team of volunteers for 17 years. 

“It’s an awesome experience each time,” says Roberts. “We’re very happy to work with such amazing people.”