Thursday, December 6, 2007

Craft Show Wisdom

It is a disgrace. Craft shows are becoming flea markets. There are more commercial "buy and sell" items at craft shows than there are crafts - it does not seem to matter to the promoters who are running the craft shows or the shoppers. So - what does it matter. The promoters are happy and the the shoppers don't mind. Who is it hurting?

IT IS HURTING THE CRAFT ARTISTS! We spend a lot of time creating the things that we make and sell. We express our feelings, our emotions, and our talent in what we create. It is art. It is art that we wish to share through sale to those who appreciate art. The traditional venues to sell art - and craft - is through a gallery or a craft show. The craft show has been the opportunity for the beginning crafts person to introduce his/her work to the world and seek buyers. As craft shows are being run now, that opportunity will soon be gone. There will be no more crafts at craft shows. The artists and the craftspeople will give up because we cannot compete with a guy selling imported merchandise that wholesales for two dollars and he is selling for $5.

At one time - and this is many years ago, it was hidden. The items would be placed out on display disguised as craft - if asked, they would even say "Oh, yes, I make these." One guy even told us that the same ones that you see in Macy's were made by him. (Right!) Now, it is blatent with no attempt at disguise. The import labels are clearly visible. The commercial packaging is right there with the item. The cartons are stacked under the table - all clearly and commercially marked.

We went to a show recently where only four out of the thirty so-called "crafts people" actually made the items that they were selling. There was a table with AVON. There was a table with Webkinz. There was a table with commercially made and packaged candles. There was a table with imported and still in the package scarves. There was a table with a commercial catalog out for you to pick jewelry from. There was a table with books. These, and many more tables of commercial jewelry. The sign outside said "CRAFT SHOW". The advertisement in the paper - which must have cost the promoter $1,000 - said "CRAFT SHOW". But where were the crafts.

What can be done? Not much. Here is why. This happened to me and I know others that it has happened to as well. Here is our story - we were at a craft show that had a good reputation for a community show. We saw many booths selling commercial items and we went to the people who were running the show to point this out to them. They told us that they did not know - what is not to know - the items are tagged "Made in China". They told us that they would go around and look. If they did or not, it does not matter. All of those booths continued to sell their imports for the rest of the day. Now, the kicker. The next year we sent an application to the show. We were not accepted. We went to see the show and what did we find - even more booths selling imports. If you complain, you are not wanted back. So it is better to keep your mouth shut if there is any chance that you might want to come back again next year. This has not just happened to us, but to others at other shows also!

The promoters get their money on the participation fees. Anyone's money is good to them. And calling it a craft show will bring in different and more people than calling it a flea market.

Why do people buy from these booths? They see something that they like and it does not matter who made it or where it came from - and besides it is a bargain.

If you are a shopping at a craft show and you see commercial items go up to the booth and tell the seller how talented she is and then ask how she make these lovely things. See what answer you get. If she (he) tries to bluff then point out the import tags. If it is admitted that they did not make any of it - ask why they are at a crafts show when they should be at a flea market. I am sure that they will say because no one stopped them.

No comments: