I promised Connie I was going to post my review of this show. I don't know if I should post it on the review side or not because this is a total different business.
This is a show that takes place in the Chicago Merchandise Mart January 19th -22nd. It is a wholesale show, gift stores, boutiques and COUPLE small galleries come to do some of their buying. You have to really have something that a store could sell easy. A product that you can sell for a reasonable price and you don't have to invest so much time making it, otherwise go back to your original art and stay in regular art shows that you can sell your paintings for as much as you want. Remember that stores have to double their cost so if you want to sell your originals you will have to really get your prices down.
I came up with an inexpensive line of prints and some other inexpensive gifty items using my art. You have to come up with a clever idea of maybe launch a stationary line, note cards, maybe an inexpensive line of your paintings just for gift stores.
The traffic is not the best but the organizers are trying and doing their best in bringing more CHicago buyers. There was more buyers from MN, WI, MI etc. Not too many Chicago buyers. They usually go to NY to do their buying for what I heard but the Mart is offering them deals to visit the show, like transportation or lunch or stuff like that so they buy in this show.
I had the luck of running into couple stores that my work would have great potential so I got couple orders that can grow in the future. I need this business for my dead season so that is why I decided to do this show. Not a big mark up, but at least I will stay active and little money coming here and there.
My neighbor, a painter was happy with the show. She had small paintings with nature themes, nice and peaceful paintings wholeselling from 42.00-400.00 She sold her inventory to 2 or 3 galleries but my other neighbor a jeweler was disappointed. Some people was happy, some not too happy.
The organizers were asking for our feedback, they know traffic is low but at the same time they know Chicago buyers prefer to travel to NY. They are trying to change that and have them shop local. They offered us to give them a list of stores that we could think could be our buyers and they personally will visit them and invite them to the future markets. They know this is a problem but they are working on it. This will be a great show for wholesalers if there was more buyers. But "IF" is another story.
If you are curious to try it talk to the organizers, maybe you can find a space in emerging artists and they have better rates. You never know, maybe the store that you wish you was selling your art can spot you right there. I've been after a store to carry my new line for months, I couldn't get a hold of them and they came to my booth and placed an order. Luck? Maybe...
They have several areas: Boutique, Fair trade, emerging artists, gourmet foods etc.
I hope more buyers visit this show in the future. That will help everybody.
I will give it a try next year. My head was spinning with new ideas during those 4 days. I will recommend to bring your laptop so you can work on your stuff otherwise you can get bored. Or maybe bring your materials and work on your art. I wish I did that, at least I was working on my etsy via my Iphone during the show. That kept me a little busy.
A great idea if you can come up with a way to enter the wholesale market with your art. You would probably have to keep your prices low enough to compete with the importers. Thanks for the review Carla!