ACRE - Orlando E-mail


SHOW: ACRE (Amer. Craft Retailers Expo) (Orlando, FL)

DATES: January 21-23, 2012


ATTENDANCE: N/A (2 requests to

BOOTH COST (10x10): $1,250+




Sometimes an early setback can prove to be a blessing in disguise for the long run. For most businesses an early setback provides an opportunity to evaluate the method of doing business including buyer preferences, and make the changes necessary to guarantee a more successful future.

Hopefully the producers of ACRE-Orlando will look at the hiccup of this year’s show and move forward, making the few changes needed to keep this thing going for years to come.

Based on the first two years of this show, it’s pretty obvious that there is a need for a wholesale crafts show located in a warm climate in January.

While piggybacking the Orlando Gift Show for the premier (2011) edition of ACRE Orlando may have been a good idea - considering it would have guaranteed at least a few live bodies walking the aisles – most of the artists at this year’s show we spoke with felt that the Orlando Gift buyers weren’t potential customers and muddled the aisles.

The producers of ACRE Orlando had great success attracting their core craft acre-orlando-5gallery/shop buyers (which use to the show in 2011, but attendance by those buyers this year seemed to be down, based on the artists we surveyed.

It couldn’t have been lost on those core buyers that attended last year’s show that many of the buyers walking the aisles were from the Orlando Gift Show (imports/gifts). Most gallery owners that carry handmade crafts don’t feel their competition comes from other galleries, but from those gift shops that sell cheaper knockoffs and imports. Allowing those Cash & Carry buyers to even walk the show, might have had some impact on this year’s core buyer attendance.

If you are a gallery owner however, there isn’t much to dislike about this show. First off, it’s in Florida in January. Secondly, the overall quality of the work is comparable in many ways to the Buyers Market of American Craft. The artists exhibiting at the ACRE Orlando show are representative of the artists you will find at pretty much any craft gallery or gift shop across the country.

The focus of this show is for the buyer to be able to find good work that is affordable. What you won’t find is a significant amount of fine craft (expensive) or tchotchkies (cheap).

Lastly, the overall management of the show received really high marks. Not only were the acre-orlando-1comments from artists filled with superlatives about the show staff, but every artist we spoke with made it a point to express their satisfaction with the staff as well.

So what steps can the producers take to better ensure that this show succeeds?

Based on artist comments and interviews, the biggest obstacle is the partnership with the Orlando Gift Show. The focus for the staff for next year is to get their core craft gallery buyers – and lots of them - back to Orlando.

As much as “educating” the gift show buyer on the virtues of buying Handmade, you risk alienating your main audience. In addition, with a reciprocal agreement in place whereby buyers can float between shows, you risk the ACRE buyers that do venture next-door spending some of their limited budgets there.

For artists considering applying to the 2013 ACRE-Orlando show, the hiccup acre-orlando-4of this show may prove to make next year’s show that much better. If the producers of this show address with conviction the issues raised by this year’s artists, the show will get back on track. This would mean more handmade craft buyers and fewer window shoppers.

Although artists at this year’s show were offered steep discounts (and a bottle of wine!) to sign-up for 2013, the cost of the show for everyone also includes a free one-year membership on

Plus, it shouldn’t take much for anyone above the Mason-Dixon line to have an excuse to spend a few days working in Florida in January!



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