Craft Shows - How sad!

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Original Post

qbranchltd says

I did a craft show over the weekend that is a major show in my area. I have been doing this show for over 20 years. The show has over 400 vendors - I say vendors and not craftspeople because 95% of the booths were selling commercial resell items. Over the year more and more commercial sellers have slipped in but they usually hide the fact that it is commercial and present it as their own work (it is easy to tell that it is not). Now, the merchandise is just put out with commercial hang tags, commercial boxes and packaging, and obvious "Made in China" stamps.

Most of the public apparently does not seem to mind because the booths with the commercial "flea market" sellers were jammed and those who were legitimate craftspeople with beautiful work were empty.

How sad it is to have to say at a craft show with a reputation when asked "Did you make that?", "Yes, I have made everything you see in my booth. It is handmade." And to have to tell people as they come to look - "It is all handmade by me."

My only surprise yesterday was how many commercial sellers there were and how blatant they have become. This has happened at all of the craft shows in this area and according to an article in Crafts Report Magazine, one of the top in the craft art trade, many of the big, big shows are starting to see commercial sellers getting in and selling cheap imports.

A few shoppers who know better made comments as to how nice it was to see "real craft" when they came to my booth. Most, when told "this is handmade by me" just remarked, "how nice".

I have been to gift industry trade shows and I have seen much of what I saw being sold at the booths at this "craft" show. Seasonal and holiday items that wholesale for a few dollars a dozen being sold at this show 3 for $5. Jewelery that is manufactured - every piece exactly alike - shiny and glittery - sold at wholesale markets for $2 a piece presented as "craft" and sold at the show for $10. It has become disgusting to try to compete.

I had a thought to put up a sign "Buy Craft not Crap" but no one would care. The promoters of the show certainly do not care. They did not want to hear about it - the attitude is if you don't do the show I can sell your space to someone else next year. At one show that we complained at that we had regular done for several years we were not allowed in the next year and more commercial vendors were there.

If the promoters called it a flea market I would understand - and then it is my choice at the beginning before putting down my entrance fee to decide to sell with commercial competition or not.

The general public has just so much to spend and if they can get a bargain, they are not going to spend more for handmade. "After all its a craft show it is all handmade."

Posted at 2:52pm Sep 22, 2008 EDT


I recently went to a farmers' market with four booths:
One had some kind of "instant gourmet" dip mixes, cake mixes, etc.
One had a Mary Kay seller.
One had a table full of watches.
I don't remember what the other one had or if I even checked it out.
No sign of anything resembling a fruit, vegetable, or the like.

I've been to craft shows like the one you mentioned. It IS sad.

Posted at 2:55pm Sep 22, 2008 EDT

My mom cancelled a show she had been accepted for last year because of the letter that was sent out to all vendors saying please be sure to take off any labels or "made in China" stickers before the show. How disappointing... the show coordinators were pleased to hide the fact that it was mass produced junk. Just don't sell the show as being handmade rather than try to pull the wool over people's eyes.

Posted at 2:57pm Sep 22, 2008 EDT

PAMELAJ76 says

how sad the promoters aren't very picky. Some of the craft fairs around my area are very strict on what they allow vendors to sell and how they set up. Too bad the public isn't educated on being able to tell the diffrence between craft vs flea.

Posted at 2:59pm Sep 22, 2008 EDT

qbranchltd says

thepaintedlily - wow! talk about complicity! It is just unbelievable - yet, it has become a fact.

Posted at 3:00pm Sep 22, 2008 EDT

I have noticed the same thing and agree that it is really sad. But being in the camp that makes my own stuff I purposely bypass those booths and move onto the ones that make their own stuff. I just wish it were promoted differently since it is obviously not the handmade they are saying it is.

I love your idea for a sign and say go for it!

Posted at 3:01pm Sep 22, 2008 EDT

thepaintedlily says:
My mom cancelled a show she had been accepted for last year because of the letter that was sent out to all vendors saying please be sure to take off any labels or "made in China" stickers before the show.
OMG. Huge red flag there.

Posted at 3:01pm Sep 22, 2008 EDT

kimonomomo says

"Buy Craft not Crap"

I bet someone here could make a button with that on it! If they don't already...

Posted at 3:02pm Sep 22, 2008 EDT

That is so sad. Obviously the promoters are in it just for the money.

Posted at 3:02pm Sep 22, 2008 EDT

qbranchltd says

In over 20 years of craft shows I have never been to a show where anyone has come around and told a commercial seller to take away the commercial items or leave.

We used to do one show that gave out award ribbons. They would go from booth to booth and judge the work - don't you know that the commercial sellers were getting ribbons!
They must be still doing that because a few commercial booths had ribbons up from that show.

Posted at 3:03pm Sep 22, 2008 EDT