I am considering a lot of different angles... wholesale, licensing, decor industry. Has anyone else ventured into those areas?
I did ACRE / Wholesale Crafts once and it was a total bust, it was my merchandise that was the problem.
I'd love to hear other experiences!
I had the American Craft Showroom at High Point for more than 10 years... It was frustrating to see the ole' boys come in to get inspiration and then next market they had nailed our color palette, proportions and sometimes more.
Decorators and furniture stores in the south are looking for accessories that they can acquire for less than $100... and mark them up to $400. Everything in the trade show world is "unsettled" at this moment. My suggestion is to visit a show before you spend money on a rep, showroom or temp space.
Talk to other artists who do it... know exactly which buyers you will see there ...reach out and promote heavily, by mail, email and phone before you go. Do as much as you can to get an appointment. Even offer a gift for those who stop by. Never, let your line go to a road rep until you really know the reputation of THAT rep... are they phone only, showroom only, or driving a territory (not likely).
Most rep firms just twiddle their thumbs until someone comes in to a showroom to buy... it's not worth 20%. Finding a great rep is as hard as finding a needle in a haystack! To learn more about wholesaling... sign up for this blog or attend a workshop .... ArtsBusinessInstitute.org or AmericanMadeShow.com
Thanks you, Wendy - such great advice. I am planning a trip and thinking about just stopping in at America's Mart and High Point just to walk around and see what's happening...
I did Americasmart last winter. I am not planning to do the show again. I make jewelry ( bead weaving; sterling silver) so my experiences would be different than yours. My price points were too high for the majority of buyers and my pieces appeal more toward Northeast and Northwest buyers. The $9 shabby chic picture frames next to me did very well. A large percentage of jewelry in the handmade section looked like production work to me and at low end prices. They are re-jurying all jewelry for July. I talked to some other sterling silver exhibitors in the Boutique section and they said higher price points are a hard sell for that show. There was a painter near me and they were not going to return to Atlantasmart - price point issue - but thought they might try High Point.
On the other hand the show was very organized, the staff extremely helpful, and a very pleasant experience (but expensive) - I just didn't sell enough. So, I would say if you have a lower price point item that appeals to the southern audience, you would do well. There are buyers from all over the country there but many from the South and I still get calls from stores that saw my ad in their magazine - but no sales (price points too high for small southern town boutiques). I also do The Rosen Show - Buyers Market which is a better fit for me. Hope this helps