Sunday, May 11, 2008

American Craft Retailers Expo

These photos come a bit late - they are from my trip to Las Vegas at the end of April. I went down for a weekend of fun, and as a habit, I always check out what conventions are on before I go. This is a great way to find out ahead of time if the hotels and restaurants are going to be crowded or not. It's also helps explain the random things you might run into while you are on the strip - like large groups of mariachis down for the largest mariachi convention in the world. Or the abundance of police officers during the North American Crime Scene Investigators convention. Ok, I digress.

Anyways, before I went I checked out the convention list online and saw that the American Craft Retailers Expo was going to be taking place while I was there. So I figured I would go and check it out, and see how other artists go about selling their products wholesale to retailers.

After signing up as a visiting artist ($35), I was permitted to walk around the masses of booths and check things out. I ran into an artist I love while walking around - Myunghye of Paper Russells. Myunghye creates stationery featuring animals (dogs) that she paints. I own her boxer magnet, and bought others for family and friends in the past from a store in Seattle. It was a nice surprise to meet her in person. She mentioned it was her first time at the show.

I walked around a bit more and met a few artists from Canada - some of whom found these types of shows useful, and some who were disappointed. A few mentioned that most of the buyers do not make decisions until the end of the last day, so there is a lot of time sitting around waiting for buyers to submit their orders.

Many artists noticed my "visiting artist" nametag and quickly ignored me - but I don't blame them, I wasn't their target!

Anyways, it was a good learning experience as I was able to see how these wholesale shows work, the type of set-ups people have, and what paraphernalia is needed. I think if I do this kind of show, I will probably stick within Canada for my first one - as the whole customs thing sounds like a hassle when bringing samples across the border etc. For now I will consider shows that are a bit closer to home.

If any of you do wholesale shows like this - I'd love to hear about your experience. Are the shows worth the investment? Which ones have you liked/disliked? What should a newbie consider?
Happy letterpressing!

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