Re: Gift Shows

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Posted by John on April 09, 2001 at 18:10:35:

In Reply to: Gift Shows posted by M.R. Daniels on April 09, 2001 at 10:38:05:

Hi M.R.,

Okay I'll start; hopefully we'll get some dialogue going here.

To begin with, the Buyers Markets and the ACE Baltimore shows are the most rigorously juried ones in the country for wholesale A&Cs. In addition to qualifying the exhibitors, these shows also do a fairly good job of attracting qualified buyers.

Having said that, I'll go further and state that the essential difference between these shows and the handmade sections of the traditional gift shows is in the quality of both the exhibitors and the buyers.

GLM has handmade sections in five of its gift shows: New York, Boston, Washington, Dallas and the one they run for Western Exhibitors in San Francisco. Of all the handmade section shows, GLM's tends to be the most rigously juried. You won't find much junk there, and they are adamant about the Made in America part. However, you will find a lot of unqualified traffic walking down the aisle and taking up your time. You'll also see a lot of your BMAC buyers in NY. At one time I figured about a 40% spillover rate for that show. Buyers go back East and hit all three shows: New York, Philly and Baltimore -- why not.

Other shows with handmade sections should be considered regional shows for (a) regional crafts or (b) regional buyers who you wouldn't see at one of the national shows. These include OASIS, Denver, Portland, Seattle, LA, Chicago (if it's still there) and Atlanta. Their jurying processes are all over the place, and the buyer qualifications don't get any better.

Should you do a regular gift show with a handmade section? Maybe. Want to break into a regional market where the buyers are too provincial to attend the national shows? Want to get into some stores that are a little more mainstream than your average craft gallery -- say edgy, upscale Euro-style boutiques? Have a crossover product that would do well in department stores? The list goes on.

If you want to test one of these shows, I'd suggest that you try Denver or OASIS in the winter. If you like what you see and want to expand on them, then get on the waiting list for New York -- it's the best one. They might have an opening for you before you retire. Or maybe you have an "in" with Mary.

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