The Craft and Hobby Association (CHA) is a trade only organization that has several categories of members including retailer, manufacturer, sales rep, distributor, Publisher, Designer, Teacher, Professional Crafter, and Media. Trade organizations are important because of the networking and exchange of professional/business information. If you are serious about working in the craft industry you should be a member and attend a tradeshow at least every two years. It’s a source of vital information about trends, opportunities, product and service showcases, and your PR assistant. Membership does have its privileges.
Some categories like retailers and professional crafters are allowed to buy wholesale and place orders on the floor and are called, buyers. Others like FaveCrafts.com are not buyers, but media wanting to report back to the consumer what is happening in creativity. It is up to the exhibitors to decide if a company or individual qualifies as a buyer in which case an account is set up to allow that company or individual to buy. Goods are bought in quantities like dozen or gross and there is usually a minimum needed to order the first time and often for as long as the account is valid. Minimum orders can be from $50-$5,000 depending on the goods and manufacturer/distributor’s policies.
The qualifications to become a member of CHA vary as to category. For example, the professional crafter must fill out the applications, include a check for $150, and show at least 3 recently paid invoices from industry suppliers with $150 minimum each and/or $450 minimum total recent retail purchase receipts; billing invoices to customers with a combined total of $400; Resale tax certificate or business license or Employer Identification Number; paid bill from either utility, phone, or ISP company or a Yellow Page listing. Similar pieces of trade qualifications are expected from every category. CHA is not a consumer show, it is for trade only. As a member of the media, even though I am a member of the trade, I am not qualified by CHA to buy on the show floor. Badges are worn that signify if someone is a qualified buyer.
There are many designers, teachers, demonstrators, and electronic media members, who also walk the floor, not as buyers in most cases, but to seek work, network, get updated on products and supplies, and get some hands-on time with product and supplies. The trade show floor is a place where many seek work. A designer might schedule an appointment with a manufacturer, let’s say of adhesive, to show his or her portfolio of work to interest the manufacturer into buying designs, finished pieces, demonstrator/teacher opportunities, and even to present a product that could fit in the manufacturer’s product line. There are so many opportunities as long as you understand that the manufacturer (or other exhibitor) is mainly there to reach the retailer. The rest of us stand in line for time and it’s savvy to plan ahead and schedule time with any one or any company you want to talk with.