Buyers Market of American Craft 2013 E-mail


SHOW: Buyers Market of American Craft (Philadelphia, PA)

DATES: February 16-18, 2013



BOOTH COST (10x10): $2,250+





The BMAC, to me, has always been the one wholesale show that best represents the type of craft gallery bmac-1or gift shop where I like to go to buy something for my wife, a gift for a friend or a piece of art to place on a shelf at home.
The work is well crafted and doesn’t break my budget - even at a 100% mark-up.

I am not a collector although I have collected a fair number of pieces of work through the years. For me a craft gallery or gift shop is a place I visit usually when I want to buy a gift for someone else.

When you walk into a gallery and gift shop across the country looking for a handmade piece of jewelry or pottery, what you see in that shop is what you see at the BMAC.

Unfortunately, it’s getting harder to find that gift shop. For those retailers that were able to navigate the economically rough last ten-plus years, there were few that could hold strong to an inventory of just American/Canadian handmade crafts. Most had to add lower cost imported crafts and gifts.

It’s pretty evident when you compare the number of exhibitors and buyers at the 2013 BMAC with the 2000 BMAC that things have changed drastically. Even the weather - where it seemed there was always at least one heavy snow day -  has changed.

There was a great division of opinions from the artists I spoke with, as well as those who responded to the CSN survey, on the success of this year’s show.

It seemed the artists I spoke with on the Sunday that I visited the show were either having a great show or doing horribly.

One artist who has done the show since before I’ve been going (1998) told me she was never coming back. And this artist is someone who does the due diligence before the show - mailings to retailers, phone calls, new product line, etc. This artist told me there just weren’t the number of new retailers - or all retailers - to make it worth the cost of the booth.

bmac-2Another artist I almost literally ran into made it a point to tell me what a great show he was having. When I asked his opinion of adding another day to the show in 2014 - which will happen - he was ecstatic, telling me the more days the more merrier he would be.

I don’t believe it’s a secret that this great show needs to double-up the effort to get the retailers back. With the advent of both ACRE shows and the NYIGF attracting better quality handmade artists, the competition for buyers has gotten tougher. And from the look of it The Rosen Group hasn’t responded.

If there was one thing that could be said about Wendy Rosen, she always cozied up to the retailers. She knew them and they knew her. They were her friends.

If The Rosen Group wants this show to survive because it’s a show that works - not because they can always find an artist willing to pay for a booth - then somebody at the show has to start racking up those frequent-flyer miles visiting retailers and reminding them why it’s in their best business interest to be at the BMAC.

There needs to be some big-time selling going on before the show even opens. Since Rebecca Mercado - Wendy’s daughter - has taken over the management of the show, this should free Wendy up to personally make those sales calls. If that doesn’t work then . . .

bmac-3As much as I hate to write this, the biggest story at the show was the fact that The Rosen Group has scheduled the 2014 BMAC a month earlier than usual - January 18-21. This also happen to be the date that the ACRE-Orlando was scheduled.

According to The Rosen Group, the reason for the change was that the management at the Pennsylvania Convention Center told them that the Auto Show, which is normally a few weeks before the BMAC and attracts about 250,000 visitors, wanted to move to the same week as the BMAC. This would result in fewer available (and more expensive) hotel rooms to go with the general bedlam of load-in and an over-crowded facility. This was a move that they felt would give artists the best opportunity to exhibit and for buyers to afford to attend.

They were offered later dates and the date in January. According to The Rosen Group, when they accepted the January date, they weren’t aware that ACRE was scheduled for that same weekend. Once they discovered the conflict, they notified ACRE. The people at ACRE weren’t happy.

For the months preceding this show,  angry emails were sent and the ire of some artists and buyers surfaced. At the show some artists and buyers, who felt that The Rosen Group moved the show just to hurt ACRE, were claiming they would never do the BMAC ever again. There wasn’t an aisle I walked down down where I didn’t hear an artist tell me their opinion of this whole thing.

By the end of the show, word went around that ACRE-Orlando had moved their 2014 show to the next weekend.

On top of that, many artists I spoke with and who commented on the CSN survey, feel the move to January and the extension to a 5-day show are major mistakes.

And this was only some of the drama (yes there was more). I guess it proves that “idle hands are the devil’s workshop!”



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