Question: I would like to be able to attend product buying shows, but feel I’m just not a big enough business to attend the much talked about CHA trade show. I do buy online, but am often unhappy with the quality of product I am sent, I’d like to be able to see and touch products and supplies I need to create my handmade products. I’d appreciate any advice.
Answer: My first thought is that if you qualify for membership in CHA (the Craft and Hobby Association, which is the craft industry’s only trade association that has an annual Winter and Summer show each year), then do it! Join, and attend a trade show. This is the largest gathering of industry manufacturers, distributors, publishers, retailers, designers, teachers, and all the other categories that make up an industry. It is worth the time and effort, and you’ll be able to network enough attending the show that you’ll only really need to attend every few years or if your product needs dramatically change.
There are also buying markets in major cities like Chicago, LA, Atlanta, and NYC that may have raw supplies available like gift, stationary, and jewelry marts or markets. You’ll need to do your homework by finding the closest large city and finding out how to qualify as a buyer or attendee. There used to be regional trade shows when I entered the craft industry and there were even supply trade shows just for professional crafters, but all have gone the way of the economy and disappeared. Sometimes, consumer shows will have trade hours for local retailers, but you’ll have to do your homework again and track down shows at city convention centers. The Quilt Market held annually in Houston has a week for trade, then follows this with a consumer quilting show that is a destination event for many quilters all over the world.
As for the comment about not being happy with some of the product quality of items/supplies ordered online, you can request a sample for some items. The sample might cost, but better to invest a little than end up with a huge order of product you can’t use. Always check the return policy before ordering too. Look for brand names–just like food items, buying a brand you know gives you some quality assurance.
Do you have an answer for the question asked? Do you know of raw goods buying shows? Please share in comments so we all can learn!