A Visit to the Buyers Market of American Craft

My partner and I recently attended the Buyers Market of American Craft held at the Philadelphia Convention Center. This is one of the shows that we attend regularly to buy hand crafted merchandise for our fine craft gallery. There are hundreds of craft artists that attend the show to sell their wares in the categories of Glass, Ceramics, Mixed Media, Jewelry, Wearable Fiber, Inspired Interiors and Premier Jewelry. No photos are allowed inside the show so I’ve borrowed the show photos from the Buyers Market site.

It’s always interesting to see what’s new and look at the variety of hand crafted work that is available. If you’re a buyer, it’s important to know what you want ahead of time. This has gotten easier over the years and hopefully, we’ve selected products that will just fly off the shelves. We often are looking for specific types of items and we use what’s called an Open to Buy plan so we know how much money we have to spend in various categories in each month. That way we don’t overspend and end up with too much of one type of merchandise.

As an artist selling at a wholesale show, you need to think a little differently than you do at a retail show. Wholesale shows are a large investment and you should be prepared to produce your work in large quantities. One of the potters we ordered from said that her daughter was helping out for the first time. Unbeknownst to her, she was taking her first order from a gallery owner who owned four galleries. He started asking for large quantities and the order came to thousands of dollars. They were delighted with the order and the daughter handled the order well. A large order sounds wonderful, but if you aren’t prepared to make those many items and can’t follow through, galleries seldom give you a second chance.

I will be writing many more columns about wholesale shows and how to prepare for them. I just thought you might be interested in a glimpse of what a wholesale show entailed. I couldn’t resist snapping the photo above. The Philadelphia Convention Center has many pieces of wonderful art inside. This is a mosaic of cups on the back of the escalator.

Right across the street from the Convention Center is The Fabric Workshop and Museum. I loved the window decor of large lace patterns. That’s what caught my eye. I didn’t realize it was there and we’ve been attending this show for 13 years. We did go to the exhibit which was called Soft Village. Next time, I hope to be able to schedule a tour of the visiting artist’s studios. I’d love to hear any questions you might have about wholesale shows, just leave a comment.

About ruthlane

When I discovered felting in 2007, I finally found the creative outlet for which I had been searching. I love that the versatility of fiber allows me to “play” with a wide variety of materials including wool, silk, fabrics, yarns and threads. Creating one of a kind fiber art pieces to share with the world fulfills my creative passion.
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8 Responses to A Visit to the Buyers Market of American Craft

  1. Lyn says:

    This is the sort of place I could wander around for hours and hours and hours….

    I love the window display too!

  2. shepherdessann says:

    It would be interesting, it must be inspiring seeing whats going on in all the different crafts.

    • ruthlane says:

      It is fun to see what everyone is making but we really concentrate on what will work for our store and even if we really like something, we might not buy it if it isn’t something we can sell.

  3. shepherdessann says:

    I imagine great self control is necessary.

  4. zedster66 says:

    I think visiting somewhere like this would be useful for artists too, thinking about what you said in one of your other Marketplace Mondays about seeing what is popular in other crafts. The Fabric Workshop and Museum sounds interesting 🙂

  5. ruthlane says:

    That’s true, Zed. Especially if they were considering doing wholesale shows. It’s always good to go check it out before you make a decision about selling at a show. I’m looking forward to going back to the Fabric Workshop and Museum next time I’m in Philadelphia now that I know where it is.

  6. Karen says:

    I think i could wonder around there for hours to, i love that window display it reminds me of everything my nana used to make.

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