Let's start with a little description for those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about. The Buyer's Market of American Craft was held this weekend at the Philadelphia Convention Center. (I wasn't there to sell, I just went to check it out and see if it's a place I could sell at, once I get my sh*t together that is) . It's otherwise known as the "Rosen Show" because it is "produced" by Wendy Rosen, what that means I don't know.
It is a wholesale show only, meaning that it is only open to vetted buyers - boutique owners, museum shop managers, etc. The general public cannot get in unless you score a guest pass or press pass (lucky Tara and Alex!) I got in because I signed up for a mentorship class with the Arts Business Institute -- how they are related to the Buyers Market and Wendy Rosen, I don't know, the whole show world is kind of hard to figure out.
But I do know that this show is for products handmade in the United States only, which is kind of big deal and if you ever go to a gift show you'll see that it's quite a challange competing with the production capacities of the made-in-china wares there. interesting.
all these pics are from the catalog which I illegally nicked since they were super possessive about them so don't tell on me ok?
so let me say that this show was started in the 70's. and you can tell. not that the work was poor quality or anything by any means, but about half the vendors seemed I don't know, dated.
I did see that there were some really great fresh faced etsy/indie/younger sellers there ...
Modern June aprons and retro goodness, Tasha McKelvey's sweet pottery, miscellaneous goodies from Zou Zou's Basement and lovely things from Silver Tree Art - all ladies from the shared booth of the Richmond etsy team.
a few divulged that they were highly pursued by the show organizers and given booth discounts - either because 1) their work kicks ass 2) they are trying to get fresh blood or 3) they needed to fill spots - probably a little of all three. Just a side note that a booth here at the summer show costs around $1,500 +all sorts of fees.
(btw Erica Stankwytch Bailey was so nice and had such awesome stuff!)
The main problem was that while there was some effort to get some younger vendors, it seemed that there really weren't that many young buyers there. in general it's geared toward the 50's age group and their sensibility. and it's obvious. But then again how many younger people are opening brick and mortar shops that can afford to buy items wholesale? with etsy, online shopping, etc everything has really changed...and everything is usually consignment.
but then there are some cool people there buying for places you'd never expect - LLBean for one, but more interestingly a person who represented over 300 zoo and National Park stores! oh the buckhorns would have been scooped up!!! DANG. I hope they found Figs n' Ginger!
While we're discussing brick and mortars, I stopped by Art Star boutique and I must say those girls really have it together - a beautiful space, totally professional, nice stuff, etc etc. You should get on over there if you can ...
so overall, I think if you want to really make a serious living at the craft thing you have to do it all - wholesale, consignment, etsy, gift shows, renegade, all of it. but manage to have a life at the same time. possible??
next post I'll talk about what the show people said about my work during the critique - the word "sexy" was used. ewww. but good I guess.