American Craft Council Wholesale Show '12 E-mail

SHOW: American Craft Council Wholesale Show (Baltimore, MD)

DATES: February 22-23, 2012



BOOTH COST (10x10): $1,125



I purposely didn’t review this show last year because, frankly, I was getting bummed out seeing a show which had been, at one time, the pinnacle of wholesale craft shows, become a ghost town.


I’m not sure exactly what I was expecting to see different this year - perhaps aisles crowded with buyers and smiles on artists faces - but for the same reasons as in the past, nothing has really changed.

About the only thing linking the shows of the last five years or so and the glorious past is the quality of the work that is available to those few gallery owners that decided to make the trek to Baltimore two days after the Buyers Market closed in Philly.

As long as there are artists willing to accept being part of the wholesale-only show and artists are willing to suffer through two mundane days in the Baltimore Convention Center for the prospect of big-time sales during the retail days, the ACC will always be able to claim they have a wholesale show. For what and for whom, I’m not really sure.

Since the 2009 show when CSN first reviewed the ACC wholesale show, there have been artists who have spoken out on how the ACC should cut the wholesale show altogether and concentrate just on the retail portion of the show. Even further back than 2009, there were artists who were agitating for some sort of merger of the ACC wholesale show and the Buyers Market in Philadelphia.


One of the biggest issues with the ACC wholesale show is that, while most galleries have had to adapt to the changing  economic realities, this show has stayed basically the same. Unfortunately, the reputation that has made the ACC wholesale show such a great show - fine expensive craft by top of the line artists - has been it’s downfall. Even though  most of the artists at this show offer affordable options, the buyers have already been looking to other venues.

And who can blame the ACC for keeping the same blueprint for this show? It’s what makes the show so special. If the ACC show doesn’t maintain it’s high standards when putting the wholesale show together, then it becomes just another wholesale craft show.

On the Thursday that CSN walked the show, the aisles were pretty bare, which meant we had plenty of time to speak with artists - most of whom expected the worse and were eagerly looking ahead to Friday.

Sure there were a few artists who either did well or well enough to remain positive, but the majority of artists (for many years) were disappointed with their sales and buyer attendance.

Unlike with other show producers, artists feel the ACC is an organization that should be looking out for artists, keeping the artists’ interests foremost when making decisions. That’s why you hear suggestions about moving the show or merging the show with another wholesale show.


I’m not sure what the ACC can do to make the wholesale show more successful. Here are a few suggestions that may or may not be viable, but what the heck:


1. Extend the retail show from Thursday to Sunday, making the first two days (Thurs & Fri) wholesale/retail. Wholesale buyers would still have to register.


2. Cut the size of the wholesale show, promote it as a fine wholesale craft show, and move it to a venue near the Convention Center in Philly during the Buyers Market. Many of your buyers are there anyway.


3. Work with the Rosen Group on integrating a specified number of ACC artists into the Buyers Market in exchange for encouraging those buyers that don’t already shop the BMAC to make that their destination. Of course this is the most altruistic approach and would require some diplomacy.

Here’s the thing ..... 77% of those artists that responded to the CSN survey claimed they made less than $5,000 in sales at the show. If you factor in travel expenses along with the $1,125 booth cost, this show is a losing proposition for most artists.

With new wholesale shows popping up and alternative ways available to place wholesale orders directly from artists, doing business as usual and waiting for the economy to change isn’t good business.





#1 Michael Kane 2012-03-14 10:35
as textile artists we have not done this show ro 12 years.
we were encouraged as the whole sale was good (can always be better) and the retails was good to (also can be better) But we are not complaining. We came from no busies to almost bankruptcy. I think the show can improve in a few ways and maybe but the BMAC show up with it to help the buyers.
for the most we are coming back and with a couple tweaks can have a better show. the economy will improve ....its all ready showing signs of it.

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