Thursday, October 14, 2010

I Don't Think I Want to Do Craft Shows Anymore

We have been doing craft shows for more than twenty five years. In the past five years or so, craft shows have become overwhelmed with vendors selling imported, commercial merchandise. So much so that you can hardly find the handmade among the garbage that is being sold. There was a time when these "buy and sell" vendors would try to hide that what they were selling was commercial - they would take the stickers off that say "Made in China", they would remove the commercial packaging, and hide the shipping cartons that it all was delivered to them in from the factory. Not anymore. Now the imports are just put out on display with the packaging and the stickers of origin - and the cartons stacked behind the tables.

We recently did a craft show that we have been doing for twenty years. This is actually the only show that we have done for several years now since the commercial vendors overtook the other shows that we do. As we are sitting in on booth we are seeing people walking by with commercial holiday decorations and kids with plastic toys. One woman and daughter came up to look at my wife's collector teddy bears (which sell for all of $5) and the daughter was deciding which one she liked. There was a discussion and then the mother said, "Ok, if you would rather have the Webkin, we will go back to that booth and buy it now." And then they walked away. Webkin? Craft? Of course not. Webkins are commercial dolls. And they were being sold at this so-called "craft show". I then decided to walk around the show and see for myself. I walked up and down the first two aisles of this large show. On those first two aisles alone there were 28 booths selling commercial items (exclusively). This was the majority of booths in those aisles. Moving along to the rest of the show, the same was found. It was hard to find the crafts and easy to see who was getting business - the guys selling jewelery for $3 / 2 for $5. All of which was commercial. With this there is just no way to compete.

In the past at this particular show we would come away with a profit for the day of several hundred dollars. This year we barely sold over the entrance fee for the show - which means that we gave away all that we sold and then lost money.

We have been told - complain to the show promoter. We have done this several times - and each time we were not invited to come back to do the show while the buy and sell vendors returned. All of the shows that we have done, including this one, are juried to get in. Obviously, whoever is jurying the show does not know what they are looking at OR just does not care. And no one ever comes around to see that what you are actually selling at the show is what was juried. The people next to us were selling commercial candy - in the wrappers. Did someone jury Hershey bars?

This is not just a local problem. The professional craft trade magazines have noted this as well - and not just with local shows but with the large "exclusive" shows as well.

It is a disgrace when someone shopping at a craft show comes up and looks at your craft and says "Oh, is this handmade?" A polite, of course, is the answer, but they look astonished that anyone would actually make things to sell. And in essence, they really don't care. And they certainly do not appreciate the time and talent that goes into the items that need to sell for more than the imports.

No, I don't think I want to do craft shows anymore.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It's happening everywhere. A number of hippy towns spring to mind