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Artist and Crafter Responses to 'How to spot retail' and 'How to advertise better'. Part 2/3
By Louis Marquette  -  a Craft Expert    about page  personal website
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Artists & Crafters, PLEASE TAKE 1 MINUTE TO QUICKLY REPLY NOW WITH YOUR IDEAS ON: event advertising, both the promoter's best options and things you can do to help, and your ideas on removing retail from juried events.

Event Advertising is critical for vendors' success. Most promoters at least try and so most failures are due to inexperience, advertising nievete, lack of funds to do more, and/or poor fund placement - Not will-full neglect to advertise. As such, knowledge of where to spend dollars first, where to not consider unless you are high up on the money hill, and where to find FREE advertising opportunities is CRITICAL.

Few promoters have answered my pleas for advertising tips to share, and so I am looking for YOU, vendors, to tell me what YOU have gleamed from talking with promoters over the years as far as what advertising methods work best, not at all, etc. The gist of their advice is: Street signs early and plentifully, as these are the best drawers; mailings to past visitor list w/ coupons; handouts for vendors at other shows w/ coupons; newspaper ads the 2 weeks before w/ coupons; your idea here!

Vendors have already told me they post newspaper ads for events they will be doing, they mail to their own mailing list a quarterly show list and even offer prior customer special deals and at-show coupons. What else can vendors do? Any improvements to these mentioned methods?

Retail at Juried Shows is a still growing and already pandemic problem. All but the top 10% of shows have it in some form today. Besides the face that there are so many more sources and products available for 'crafters' to find to resell from, the quality and appearance of import retail items has been increasing.

I have asked before for tips on identifying non-hand-made products in your category, PLEASE send them to me NOW! Reply by email, right this second! Not a single person replied to my prior requests. WHY? Is this not seen as critical? Promoters will be jurying YOUR shows for this year soon and I'd like this to get into their hands. I will be preparing a list of categories, with identification techniques for each to share with all promoters. IF YOU DO NOT WANT PROMOTERS LETTING IN CHINA MADE POTTERY, JEWELRY, WOOD, ETC. UNKNOWINGLY THAN YOU HAD BEST HELP ME GIVE THEM THE INFO THEY NEED TO MAKE THE DECISIONS YOU WANT THEM TO MAKE AND THAT THEY TRY AND STRUGGLE TO MAKE CORRECTLY. Import companies and sending their 'crafter' clients instructions on how to get past jurying. Instructions are needed for our juries now!

Other advice for promoters includes assigning crafters in each category to go around before the show starts to identify retail. I say do not wait for a promoter to ask you - Walk around after you setup with pen and paper and jot down all spot numbers you know or suspect of retail and for each record  what items or all, your confidence level in your call, brief reasons, things the promoter can look for, etc.  Ask the promoter to look into those vendors and their questionable items before the doors open to the public. Remind them why it is in THEIR best interest!  


I am having crafters and artists as vendors selling their own creations at May Madness May 12 in Irvington NY. I have had  difficult conversations with a few people representing goods made elsewhere-they are rude but I turned them down as they did not fit the profile...also I turned down a boutique from a Junior League in Westchester (NY) because they do not advertise to the public and not enough people came/bought last year. - Isabel Becker 

Event Advertising Idea: I agree that street signs in & around town are most important ( I would put them up in nearby towns also)  ....preferably at least 2 weeks before the show. But the signs have to be legible from the car...I have missed being able to read many, many signs because the printing is too small!   I always worry when I go to a craft show as a vendor & pass through the center of the town & I see no signs. Unfortunately, usually not many people show up in that case.
Keep up the great work, Louis, I always enjoy reading all your have been very helpful! Thanks, - Clare - MGH Chelsea HealthCare Center Administration

I do craft shows that allow retail items.  I sell among other things a line of very good quality teddy bears.  I was talking to one of the promoters of the a craft show that did not allow retail items and was told that if I put a small \"bow\" on each bear I would be allowed to enter this \"hand made\" craft show.  Many promoters don't care because they want to fill all booth spaces so to make more money.  - Just my two cents. - Alan

Hi Louis, One of the greatest methods for advertising is usually free. Send a press release to all radio, newspaper and tv media within 100 miles. One of the stations here has a daily segment called 'out and about'. The show I did last weekend...we were setting up on Friday. The news people came out and did a live remote from the site on the Friday news. It generated phenomonel response and attendance to our event.

In the fall, many newspapers publish lists of holiday events. (usually published in late September or early October.). Check with the local newspapers and let them know. - Good luck - Debbi


Who do I give the information to when I suspect this? To the craft Promoter? I don't have any suggestion for promoting shows unless bulk mailings are sent per month on various shows and sent to interested persons of interest. Or have customers sign a paper with needed info to sent them reminders over the internet. That way you have a database to pull from and can sent group mailing at a low price saving paper notices for people with no access. One can always delete them if they are not interested. - Mary Geest

1) Promoters can post signs in retail venues throughout a town, contact local radio stations and see if they can walk in and chat on-air for a minute or two (especially if festival coincides with a charitable walk/run, etc.), have places of worship announce at end of services (especially if show is on a Sunday).
2) With regard to identifying retail -- while it's important to keep the quality of shows up, it's equally important not to create witch-hunts...especially if you don't know what you're looking at.  We need to do this in a respectful manner and remember that it's people's livelihoods we are potentially effecting.

Hi Lou; One of the ways you can spot retail (jewelry etc) is by the vast amount and repetitve types of pieces. Does the vendor have tools with them to modify at the cutomers request? Looking closely at some items it is obvious they were machine made and mass produced. Look around the display area for telltale boxes and packaging from the Pacific Rim (Asia etc). Does the vendor guarantee their workmanship by replacement or repair? Replacement is an indication that the item was not made by the seller. Can the seller/vendor talk about their wares (without giving up trade secrets) intelligently?

At all of my shows I have all my inventory and can create special items on the spot. If I have to I will take pictures of my home work area and send them to a requested juried event. I am proud of my work and will always tell anyone about every part except my bulk suppliers and the prices I pay. Also. is the person selling the manufacture? Are they the person selling  also doing the creating? - Good Luck Lou. - Paul - Sandrock Designs

We had our first show last year and didn't know exactly how much to spend on advertising so we: placed ads in local newspapers, the local businesses put signs in their windows, the bank put the info on their marque at no charge. I personally bought vinyl drop cloths from homedepot and some fabric paint and made banners and found business that were willing to let us post them. We also had a local radio station that announced it for free. Our town is on a main highway so we had lots of driveby exposure, This year I plan to ask the water and electric companies if they will include a note on the Nov. bills. I hope this will help some promoters. We had over 1250 paid customers not bad for a small town show. I also passed out flyers at every show I attended.

Hello, I have emailed you recently concerning these things of interest to you.  Firstly, you have to ask yourself, Why is the vender at these events?  Is it because he wants to sweat and or get a tan, or Is it because he just enjoys it, a hobby, or is it because he wants to make money.  Is this being looked at from the vendor's side at all?
When I emailed you, my question was, since I was an inventor or the father of a creation, would I be allowed to enter the program because I have a manufacture to produce my product?  I'm not talking about people that has tooth brushes to appliances to sell, like there may be at a flea market.  All and all if the vendor doesn't make money, he or she won't be back, they will go where they can.  By the way, many flea marketer's are lucky to make $20.00 or $30.00 a day, but they do it every week end like clock work, and they set up before daylight with all their many items to sell, and putting up with all of the elements to whether and at the same time smile and speak to everyone which could be a potential customer, and then pack up at the end of day, and many do this for a living and it is tough.  I do not do this, but I do find it somewhat interesting to look around and sometimes find something I would like to have, and more often than not, they will bargain for penny's on the dollar to make a sale ,,, You may have heard the saying, what one man's trash is another man's treasure.
There isn't many people like me that invent things and have it produced and then sell at various events.  Personally I feel that a person should never be discouraged for being a dreamer, because everyone has to have a dream before reality can occur, and more often than not people's ideas are stolen by the large corporations, and the little man suffers.  It is like getting knocked down, and then kicked for being down only because he doesn't have the money to fight them, and then the system wonders why people commit certain crimes.
I am not wealthy, but why would someone make an effort to keep a person from obtaining his or her just dues from their blood and sweat and worry.  I believe a person should be rewarded for their work and hardships they endured to get to the point of presenting it to the people, and then let them make the choice.  If I have offended anyone, I cannot say that I am sorry, because the truth is all that I know. Thank you for responding and may God bless you. - Dean Pack

Hi, I am a stained glass artist. I do look around shows and I have found so much buy sell it is getting really bad. I just found out a \"crafter\" got into Remsen and she does 90% buy- sell. I am upset about it.  I have told other shows about this women and some did kick her out. But she just goes on to other shows.

One way to see at least with stained glass is if you put 2 or 3 items that are supposed to be the same on top of each other and if they are exact, it is not hand made. I have been doing glass for over 10 years and there is no way I can get it exact. This also works with other crafts like wood and others.  Also the crome plated stuff is not hand made with the glass. - I hope this helps. - Cindy Austin

Hi Louis, I promote one show a year.  It is very very juried.  I am glad to see you trying to educate others who run these shows.  The craft shows are dying off in sales big time.  I think it's because the customers are smarter than that, and just aren't going to as many because of the fact that they aren't always looking at hand made items.  It would be much better to have less fairs available to vendors but have them with only with high quality and hand made, than a bunch of fairs to choose from with low budget high mark up merchandise.

I have been a vendor at craft fairs for about 20 years and have seen an incredible decrease in customers.  The past two years I have stopped selling at fairs and changed careers because the shows in my area have become what they are.  There are just too many of them taking in anything they can. - Take care, - Robin

I have found that if a promoter gives a question/answer form to each vendor when entering the show to be filled out before the end of the show and then has a staff person collect them it works really well. This gives the promoter time to go over all the information to aid them in future shows.
Setting up should not be crazy having some organization with unloading and parking the car and moving the car is a big, big help. If the show is for a school program having the older kids help unloading for set up and take down for the vendor is very time saving to get the set up done faster. Vendors appreciate any help either from one another or from the staff of the show. Working together is the way it works best. Having room to walk, and a neat uncluttered look is more inviting and people want to stop and shop. - Lorraine - from Maine

hi - i would like to SEE some of these instructions importers are sending.  if anyone has their hands on some of those instructions, they should be published so everyone can be aware!

i think one good idea that i already noticed on eventlister forums was to request an included picture of the artist in their studio.

in addition, perhaps requesting a few personal references on each application - yes, someone could and would probably lie for a vending friend who wants to pass off imports as handmade, but...  if you make the application a real p.i.t.a., perhaps it could help stave off some of these jerks!

i would say, too, that requiring \"branding\" on work would also alleviate some of this - i mean that the artist's signature MUST be included on the work (for jewelers, like me, this means a stamp, or a stamped tag, on each piece, for example.  for better or for worse, this particular step also may make it a little more difficult for hobbyists to take up space better served by a professional artisan who makes his/her living from their craft (as a jewelry designer for over a decade, yes, i'm a bit miffy about this, lol).

as well, perhaps request a listing of other shows the artist has done, along with contact information as professional reference. and at this point in time, nearly everyone has a website.

and, the obvious - a mailing-out to all participants that states the point - that selling imports at a craft show is a big bad no-no and will ruin your karma, and that all participants are encouraged to both make friends with other vendors as well as \"flag\" anyone who may be selling imported goods for further investigation.  promoter should have a skilled, \"secret shopper\" with an eye for these things (i have a great eye for these things - my start in shows and jewelry was working for a woman who had her designs produced for her by a group of craftspeople in India.  she had a B&M store, and was also able to enter craft shows with this set-up, and i was unaware of how borderline this was at the time - not now!)


This is a hard category for me.  I just promoted my first event, and the turnout wasn't what I was hoping for. Here are some of the things I tried:

1.Signs around the community and outside the event
2.The site is lucky enough to have a large marquis outside, so we posted on that.
3.Press releases in the paper
4.Paid ads in the paper
5.Community bulletin boards online and on local news stations
6.Interviews on local news stations
7.We handed out flyers at other craft shows.
8.We gave vendors flyers with their applications so that they could post them as well.
9.We contacted local churches and asked that it be announced during their bulletin readings.
10. We asked local restaurants to post them in the stores and(!) place them in any deliveries.
11.Websites such as your wonderful one!!!
12.Some fast food restaurants will even use them as trayliners, if you give them a stack.
13.Local billboards (small ones as our budget did not support commercial ones.)

they need email lists.  everyone has email now.  that's the best way to contact your customers.  but not sell them.  they should gather their own and make sure the customer understands they will be recieving the emails.

i sell both handmade and products made by someone else.  i think the customers want both.  some of the stuff is made in china but if it was made in the united states it would be too expensive for us to buy and resale.  i can't even sell some of the stuff that i get in united states at a decend markup.  before i started doing craft shows i got tired of seeing the same old stuff.  how long can some of the crafters continue to bring their stuff that they were making 15 years ago?   if crafters are not selling their items they need to rethink about what they are selling.  come up with something NEW.  or add both to their both. but one of the things that does bother me is someone coming in with the imports and selling it at what we(the vendor)  would have to pay at cost.


So far the things that you've said here are generally what gets people to the show. I've done both show promotion and am a vendor, so I've seen both sides of the issue and goodness knows it's hard to figure out how best to promote.  The things that I've seen is same as above. As many street signs as possible on the busy corners.  Of course they may have to have permission from the city on where they can place and for how long. The best I think is to get them out there at least a week in advance, perferably 2.  Then mailings/newsletters from the surrounding neighborhoods are a great source to promote. Just find out when they are published (every month, bi monthly...ect...) and how long they need the info before the mailing goes out.  I've also tried the free newspapers that are in the grocery stores/Dr. Offices/Coffee Shops. These a lot of times have free ad sections and are seen by a lot of people.  Then if you can get the vendors to commite to doing this, make a b&w flier that's half sheet (so 2 fliers per sheet) and have them print out tons and pass them out in their neightborhoods in the newspaper boxes.  It's information of an event, so I'm not sure if that's considered solicitating or not for those neighborhoods that have the no solicitating signs.   Then of course big signs the day of in as many surrounding intersections as possible with balloons to catch the attention. 
These are all things that we've done and that seems to work well.  Plus if you are having your show in a church, get the church to post in their Sunday Morning bulletins the week before and place a flier on their community board.  And have the vendors place fliers at their home churches as well.
Some communities have a public station where they can post an ad in the events section. Not sure how many people actually sit and watch that to know if it's worth any cost or not.  There's radio talk hosts that might ad a blurb about it as well...just have to make a lot of calls to see who would be willing to do what.
The last thing I've found (which reminds me I need to do this for the show I'm in this weekend) is go to and find any local city group that's in there and ask the moderator if you can post to their group about your upcoming event. A lot of times they are willing to let you do that and you can reach tons of people on the web that waysmile
Hope that helps! Honestly, I've never been in a juried show before. My stuff is all hand made (beaded work) but I've never tried for a juried one. If the show is suppose to be all hand made and someone comes in with things they didn't make, of course that's a problem. I'm not sure how to tell, but would for sure let any promoters know about it if I did.  My group that I run, I think I've told you about them before But we are a group of crafters and independant consultants (mary Kay/Pampered Chef) that do shows in our area.  I don't think we've got any China made retailers in our group. there's no wholesalers as far as I know.  But I do agree with you that this should be something that's fought against

I am a promoter of 17 shows in Michigan. As a promoter my business does every advertising avenue you have listed except newspaper inserts. My biggest complaint about crafters is that the majority do not hand out the flyers we promoters provide for them. - Sincerely, Leslie Needham - Keepsake Collection

Possibly the reason you did not get any answers is because this is a very difficult question to give an answer to.  In my area, jewelry, for just about any rule that I could type out for you there will be exceptions, and if there is not now there soon will be.  The differences are often subtle, mostly a case of \"I know it when I see it\" plus you cannot forget that just because it comes from overseas that it will not be or look handmade - there are some amazing crafters there too.  The most foolproof sign is literally that, a label that says made in China, Thailand, Indoensia, Bali, Taiwan, etc.  The vendors who are not trying to hide the fact that these are imports will leave them there, the others will have removed them.

I wish this were not the case, but it is.  Any promoter that does not want these goods in their show diligently polices the merchandise to the point of removing vendors who are foolish enough to put banned goods on display.  It is my opinion that most do not do this for economic reasons, not an inability to spot the imports. I know that this is not the response you were hoping for, but it is the best that I can do.

You asked for ideas and I can tell you what works for us.... We email out a monthly newsletter to our customers letting them know the events we will be at. A few days prior to the event, we email out another note reminding them of the event. We have more and more customers come to our booth telling us thank you for the newsletter and the reminder notice. - Hope that helps, - Kel

As far as finding out if it is imported merchandise, sometimes all you have to do it turn it over!  I was at one show and there was this huge booth of pewterware... Plates, etc.  I picked up a piece and turned it over and there it was!  a \"MADE IN CHINA\"  sticker!  I was flabbergasted!  The vendor didn't even bother to remove the stickers!   Every piece I picked up and looked at had that sticker!  Of course I didn't let them know that I was looking at their stuff for that reason, but I was amazed at the fact that they didn't even try to hide it.

Louis, thank you for doing this. I am still trying to get my business started with other members of my family. We have not done a booth by ourselves so far.

As difficult as it was for me to do, recently I contacted the manager of an upcoming Art show in my area to ask about who and what may be sold there I personally knew someone who was misrepresenting themselves and in doing so were misrepresenting their product. The manager told me they were new to their position and that no one was checking 'old' vendors.This may change now!

I wouldn't know if someone had brought in a handmade craft from another country. I had never seen pottery that looked other than handcrafted around here. (Norman, Oklahoma) We have several Arts & Crafts shows that have 50,000-200,000 people that attend them. The bigger the show the more likelyhood of cultural thieves. All of the shows around this area seem to be only about 20-30 years old. While they were developing, ALL the crafts people were from here and they were known if not always well known. Now we attract crafts people nation wide and all are NOT know artists.

The juried shows have a hard time finding people who are not IN the shows already to be judges. So some of these 'judges' don't know what they are doing. I can already tell that by the ribbons given to simplier, easy crafts over the very difficult, time consuming, advanced craftwork.

I don't know what the answer to this problem is, but most people never get the chance to leave their own booth for more than a few minutes and wouldn't have the chance to check to see if others are importing even if they would recognize an imported item.

One very good idea that I saw at the Norman Medieval Fair was a vendor passing out folded flyers (easier to hold and keep up with) that had all her contact info, item info AND UPCOMING EVENTS she would be at that year!! I was so grateful since I wanted more of her product but didn't have enough money to purchased anything more of hers right then. I knew I was going to be at one of her future events and could plan to have the money.

When we have made a large supply of items and are ready to have our own booth, I WILL sign up for your full service!! Right now we are just gathering materials (expensive just to do that!) and checking out the different shows and faires (with your wonderful help!) in our area. Please don't think you are not appreciated, because you truely are!!! : )

Hey, I work in wood. One of the things I noticed about retail items made from wood is that they are perfect. or appear to be. The other thing is woods you can't get in the US in big enough pieces to make the items out of. An example would be Olivewood. the USDA only allows pieces in the US that are 2\" by 6\" by 6\" or smaller. When you (the jury) see a cross or another large piece made of olivewood, it was imported already made.   
But Louis I think there is a bigger problem. Most Promoters who allow it don't care!!! they only care about the money. I did some shows with a guy named ... that were supposed to be juried but more than half wasn't. I even talked with vendors who had retail and they said they wouldn't be able to compete and survive if they only had stuff they made by hand. I personally have found it to be frustrating because I can't compete with a $15 box, I've tried. It seems to me that the 10 % of the shows that do care are the only ones where you make good money anyway. Thanks,- Pat - dittystoys

As to the buy & sell.  I have told promotors and they apparently don't care. because nothing is ever done about it.  \"No Confrontation\" seems to be their motto and than there is the $ the promotor has already collected...sooooooooooo my belief is that they don't care.  I know we have been juried out of some shows (this year)  we have done for several years and that when I check to see who got in I can plainly see that even the buy & sell got by the jury committee.  I don't know of a remedy for this...but I am willing to try anything needed to see that this is called to a halt!  I just need ideas.  Our product is fully hand made by the way. - Virginia

Hi, I’m afraid I don’t have much to offer on advertising. You have a list of what appears to be the main considerations.
The only thing I might possibly add, is signage the day of the show. I have been to more than a few shows that seem to have fairly good advertising, but make it challenging for customers to find due to a lack of road signs. In Vermont here, it’s very valuable to have signs at local highway exits and directional signs at major intersections. I find too that there are often inadequate signs at the show location itself, making it easy to miss. A clear, visible, sizable sign makes it easy for those looking for the show, and catches the eye of those who might stop on a whim.
As far as resell stuff goes, I think the Internet is invaluable. A search done using a description of an item will often  come up with a site selling that item for a fraction of what the “crafter” is selling it for. This works best with things that are a bit different. Mostly, the promoter has to really care. All too often they say they do, but really don’t want to know. Sometimes all it take is to look inside a leather bag and see the “made in Pakistan” label…and they don’t bother. - Thanks for all you do, - Mindy

Hi Louis, I'd like to share an idea that I got from a promoter located in Campbell CA. The promoter sends confirmation letters to all the accepted crafters about 5-6 weeks before the actual show date with details of the actual show day. She also includes about 15-20 flyers/brochures that she's made (printed on season appropriate colorful paper) and asks that we vendors hand them out, post them, or mail them to our own individual mailing lists. I think this is a great idea, and if there's 50 to 60 vendors at a given show, that's a lot of extra advertising if everyone does their part and distributes those flyers.

I've also made up my own flyers to mail out to friends and to folks on my mailing list, and have included, \"bring this flyer with you for a 10% discount\" within the body of the flyer. (Just started doing this a couple weeks ago.)

I will be happy to keep my eyes peeled for non-hand-made product. I am certainly against having retail product being passed off as hand-made when it's not. As far as offering any tips on how to identify such a vendor, I can only say that taking a small non-hand-made item such as a vase, or an ornament, and gluing a few flowers, a doily, or a goofy trinket to it, is not really a hand-made item in my eyes. Some folks try to pass it off as such. - Regards, Kristin

With regard to identifying buy/sell, promoters should ask for process photos of a piece with a description of creation from start to finish. With jurors who know the media, it should be easy to tell whether an applicant is being truthful. For those artists/crafters who mix buy/sell in with their own handmande items, or crafters who used to make their own but now do resale, it will be more difficult to discern, but it's at least one more stop-gap. Another option would be to request current invoices for raw materials/supplies.

As for advertising, I think the quality of the show will go a LONG way for word-of-mouth and repeat customers. Advertising is important, especially local advertising within the area of the show, as well as areas within driving distance. But if the show gets a reputation for being low quality or overloaded in one or two categories, no amount of advertising will get the crowds to continue to come out year after year. - Jasmine Bonner -Owner, Razmataz Designs

Hi. Having just finished a couple of shows at which I was amazed to find so much \"resale\", I'm happy to respond to your question. I identify a lot of resale by recognizing it from wholesale catalogs and from simply picking up the pieces and seeing if there is a sticker left on it or if there is residue from a sticker having been left on it. I am amazed at the gall that many vendors have when they don't even bother to take off the \"made in china\" stickers! I was at one show recently where I brought one such culprit to the attention of the promoter, who then proceeded to defend the vendor by saying 1) she was using the items for display purposes (not with a price tag on them!) or 2) she must have done something to \"alter\" them in some way to make them her own (not the pieces I saw-- I had just seen them in a wholesale catalog I was looking at from the outfit whose sticker was still on the piece!). So even if I recognize the retail stuff, sometimes the promoter doesn't want to lose the vendor so they don't do anything about it. This is such a turn-off for an artisan like myself... I not only do the mosaic, I cast the concrete that I do it on!
I just finished a show that is normally a very well attended one and a well respected one and I was sad to see how many fewer people there were, how little the advertising was \"showing\" and how many resalers there were. One vendor had items that were cast iron animals that are definately made in China because the wholesaler also sells to the garden center I work at part time! I did attach their card to my critique of the show and I hope the promoters checks it out. Do you think it is possible somehow to turn things around so that people will actually want to come to shows again like they used to? So many artists and crafters are starting to give up on it all.... - Thanks for caring, -Diana Bodell

Perhaps fliers in grocery store windows. This was done in the DC area, haven’t noticed it in CO. Community newspapers might have a better draw then city papers. Cable TV community affairs listings. If you affiliate with a charity, some percentage of gross, local TV’s might give coverage, especially if the event coincides with a charity event they are holding. Following this vain, say there is a charity event for an arts center, you schedules an event within x amount of days and earmark a % of gross to the art center. The center will probably allow promotional material to be displayed and perhaps include your event in their program.

I see nothing wrong with selling AFTER a juried show providing the artist selling is one that participated in the show. I think the problem lies in the organizes not really have set criteria on artist showing. Seems that many just ask for slides and a fee and your excepted until space is full.

Don’t know about other crafts but for hand weaving, check the selvedges. Even the best weavers the selvedges are not perfectly straight or smooth. When I was looking at Zuni fetishes, I remember being told if the animals look to good and the same type of animals looks to similar they are probably machine carved.

Event Advertising...

As always, getting material into others' hands is a priority.  I find that handing out brochures at my *other* markets help tremendously.  You can get a lot of information on a 8-1/2 x 11\" piece of paper cut into 6th's or even 8th's.  Pass them out!  Talk to people!  Let them know where else you will be!

Take advantage of local 'on-line' advertising (ie. auctions / classified advertising). Most is free/low cost.  Advertise the week before, having the listing end on the last day of the event.  It's cheap and effective.

I certainly agree with the 'sticks in the ground' advertising....early and often.  Pulls in the folks for sure.

Have a promoter speak to the local newspapers.  They will often do a 'documentary' type article for free.  Newspapers love local events and hand crafted is becoming more and more limited.  It works.

Retail at Juried Shows...

A couple of years ago, I did my first 'juried' show.  Once I got in, I found that 80% of the stuff there was aftermarket.  If this show were to eliminate the buy/sell there would not be a show.  Since its a huge $$ for me, I just go with it.

The way to nip buy/sell is to actually have pictures producing the products.  And, not just with a paint brush in your hand.  smile  It's not hard to compare some pictures with Darice and other on line buy/sell programs.  It just takes some work.

And, just as an aside, I don't feel it's my job to *police* a craft fair.  I don't want to be the *dirty rat bastard* that outted someone.  It is not for me to decide.  What if I'm wrong?  My place is talking and selling MY product (which I know EVERYTHING about), not to slam another I may meet up with at another show.  If buyers would ask pertinent questions, THEY would know if a product is truly hand crafted.  Most buyers don't care.  If they like it, they'll buy it. They could give a rat's patootie WHO made it. - Just my thoughts, for what they're worth. - Leslie

Advertising - SIGNS  - Lots of signs in the area near the show. That way if people are driving near by they'll see the signs and either be reminded of the show or find out about it for the first time and hopefully stop by to check it out. Radio is good advertising too. And getting a contact list and mailing them with info each year - snail mail or e-mail - get the list and have the promoters use it and get it to your crafters too. If they send out info to their own lists let them add yours, it can only help get the word out to more people - and it only costs the promoters a little time.
To know that jewelry - my catagory - is not hand made?! - LOOK! - are there alot of duplicate items - and I mean identical - that's a dead give away. Alot of stretchy stuff. Do you hear hard plastic bags being opened? They crinkle. If you do they are probably getting 'made in china' out of them. Look through catalogs like Fire Mountain Gems - there are a ton of crafters who get their stock from them and alot more who buy ready made stuff from them.

If you have country vendors look through the ... catalog or website - their stuff is at every craft show I've been too in the last two years. And it's very easy to spot, it's at 3 or 4 or 6 different stands - if you see the same thing at more than 1 booth it's a major hint!

If there is more than 5% of an artisans/crafters product that is buy/sell get them out, they aren't artisan/crafters.

My 2 cents... Look at the pictures which are sent, use those pictures as a screening tool, request a list of ALL types of items being sold, and only allow those items to be sold, actually request vendors to pack up and leave if they violate the agreement - no blind eyes, please (this blind eye happens all too often, and is one of the reasons I'm not returning to two shows I participated in last year) peruse the set up, at time of set up, to insure only hand made items are being put out, then keep perusing, thruout the show - Thanks for working to make shows better....

first i want to thank you for having this web site & for allowing me to be a member in this community. as far as the promoting issue, what i've seen, are the promoters who create an idenity for their event, do a better job.  an example, out here, in sunny san francisco, we have these two guys who put on \"the capsule street fair.\"    there is no capsule street.   but the have an image of a capsule {pill} with their fair going on.   they aim at a certain market {fashion} and the focus of the vendors is fashion.   all their ads & promotional pieces revolve around \"capsule\" & the image it projects. the is also \"appel and frank.\"   that is actually the promoters last names.   but they have a cartoon image of a young woman, who is shopping.   she changes her theme for each event, but she remains constant.  in these cases, instead of thinking, \"another craft fair,\" instead you think, \"oh, appel &  frank.\"   a theme or a focus really helps.   the vendors who do fit the theme need to play the part anyway. the other thing that helps promote, & this will sould really elimentor, is to get on the phone.   it really works.   promoters need to get the vendors to invite there friends, church, clubs, to the events. as far as not allowing \"mass produced\" product, that is difficult.   i only know my field, and i think i could be fooled.  i would hate to be a judge.    maybe requst a photo album at each table with pictures of the crafter doing their creations.   that's about the best i can come up with. ~doug

When I'm looking at other vendors I can usually tell if their product is imported by the number of the same items they have available.  In most cases, and definitely for me, a crafter always likes to try new things.  Repeating the same design over and over gets boring.  Even with an item that is a great seller, I tend to change the colors, or put in some type of variation. Thank you for your continued support for us crafters! - Lianne Bouck - TWO BEADS in a Pod

Inregards to juried events; i think the best thing is to have the artist demo the making of their product.

Hello, One of the ways is to ask a crafter if they have photo's of themselves makiing the products that they are selling.  I have found that crafters that buy/sell items from China are not able to produce receipts for fabric's or other supplies that you would use in handmaking an item muchless be able to explain the process that they used to make them.  If you start asking those types of  questions they tend to clear out fairly quickly. - Connie

Hi Louy, Most local televison stations have a public annoucement spot that they run for free of upcoming local events. Normaly they need the information on your event about three to four weeks in advance. All the public televison stations I've ever seen do this as well and it's free !!!
Many local radio stations will also do \"live remotes\" from an event if they are asked to do so well in advance of an upcoming public event
Many cities and towns ahve small free want ads that you can pick up at your local store. Although they aren't always free to advertise in even a small add placed in them regularly a few weeks before a show can greatly help to inform people about your upcoming event and if the do charge it isn't going to be much compared to a regular newspaper ad. - Bye Louy, MIKE HUTCHISON

I've been to juried craft fairs.....Even though I am a home party business with the Italian jewelry (10% of my business) To do an event I was asked to remove my retail home business from my website. I didn't agree with that but I did for that event cause I wanted to go. I won't do that again because it's my whole business....crafts, Italian jewelry, etc....That's why I chose the name Alluring Charms, Etc. All I need to do is not bring the retail things to a juried fair. Some juried fairs were ok with me leaving things on my website the way they are just not to bring retail to the fair.

Advertising....I never had much luck for advertising in the newspaper. The last time I had an open house I sent out an email to my customers a few days in advance....that worked perfect verses the week before. I'm having another one this week and just sending out a flyer tonight. We'll see how that goes. In the past I've put flyers in the newspaper box around my town and didn't get one response.

I've contacted different companies to do a lunch sale at their company and that actually has worked really well for me with one company. I go every 4 to 6 weeks and it's very beneficial.

I've heard of some people having a sale for men only to buy for their wives, girlfriends,etc....they've had great success with this.....I haven't tried that one yet.

I've put coupons in newsletters and such and hasn't really worked that well for me.....what I usually do is at my open houses I mark my prices down 10 to 20% and that works out great!

Putting signs up on the streets is definately a good one that you mentioned. I have found a few local shows because a flyer was put up in the window of local grocery store, liquor store, drug store and such.

I agree that there are a lot of shows that \"crafters\" do with anything  handmade in other countries.

A couple of my local shows require a picture of my studio/workplace as well as a picture of me doing the work. Possibly going with made only in the USA???

Advertizing is a BIG thing for promoting a show but so is the quality of vendors!  Stressing in some ads that there are only \"real\" handmade would go a long way. I hear so many times from customers that there is a lack of quality at craft shows recently. - Hope this helps - Sue Brown

Not only do I sell my jewelry, handmade journals, and glass & wire yard art at shows, my partners and I run a holiday show of local handcrafted-only items. When evaluating shows for non-handcrafted items or evaluating vendors for our show, I have noticed...

Powder-coated metal is not handcrafted 90% of the time. The facilities for powdercoating metal are generally not available to the average artist/crafter.

Soldered non-precious metal is usually not handcrafted unless it's a work of stained glass or wrought iron outdoor art. The facilities for soldering require ventalation (sp?) and tanks of gas, (propane, oxygen, etc.). These are not available to your average person.

Resin figures are not handcrafted. Usually these are purchased plain figures that are hand painted - similar to ceramics, except, the painter is NOT doing the casting/molding as well. They're just buying blanks.

As a general rule, I look for flaws/ inconsistancies between multiples of the same item. So, if it's birdhouses, they'd better not look EXACTLY identical.

Jewelry is more difficult, but again, if there's multiples of the exact same thing, then it's more likely imported. Truely handcrafted jewelers will not make the same thing over and over again, there will be variation between similar items such as color, different bead caps, different chain, a different clasp. Even if the majority of the items are handmade by the jeweler, they might have some imported items. These will usually be low-cost items that have a different \"look\" to them from what the rest of their stuff is. If you're unsure - check out these jewelry wholesale catalogs and compare the jewelry that's available to buy in bulk finished to what they're saying they made: Rings & Things or Fire Mountain Gems.

If a promoter truely wants to know if an item is handcrafted, make sure to ask the vendor to describe HOW they've made their products and make them show samples. Their enthusiasm for their work will confirm that they've put themselves into the art/craft.

Louis, I was at the fort worth arts festival recently and most of the vendors had such unique items that you could tell they were hand crafted...however, that being said, there were a couple of Jewelry vendors that their jewelry looked like it could have been commercial in that while pretty, they didn't have that \"uniqueness\" that most of the other vendors had. -Carol

Event Advertising- Many newspapers will advertise your event for free in an area in their publication designated as \"things to do this weekend\" or \"weekend events\", etc. The catch is getting your event into them early enough to get it listed.

The best local advertising is signage at/near the event site early in the morning. Don't forget to include signs at nearby exit ramps off freeways with a large arrow pointing the way to the show. Too much detail in signs can't be read at high speeds.

Retail at Juried Shows- The promoter must be involved in getting the retail out of juried shows. If a promoter has an info packet that is handed out at the beginning of the show to all the vendors, include a card that is to be filled out before the show starts with an area to write in suspected resellers. The promoter is then obligated to check out all the suspects, especially if more than one card is turned in with suspected resellers. If a resller is discoverd, then they need to be asked to pack up and get out.

On a Totally Different Note- I came across an artist at a local art/craft show who handed out business cards that were a regular business card on one side and a \"I'll Be Back\" discount card on the back. How many times do we hear customers say they \"will be back\" after they have looked around the show some more. This lady printed a 10% discount on the back of her business cards for anyone who said they would \"come back\" and really did. There is the possibility that a small percet of the people who say they will \"be back\" actually do come back, but most just disappear into the crowd. This is an inexpensive way of getting the buyers to take notice of you and possibly come back for a sale that they might not have considered. - That's all for now. - Have a great day! - Sandra

1.  To get listed in the 'weekender' edition of the local papers is usually FREE.  All it takes is a phone call to the person in charge of that section of the paper. 
2.  The freebie, penny-saver newspapers that are all over the place, it's cheap advertising, and is read by LOTS of people. 
3.  Signs, signs, signs.  (There is no excuse for no signage, recycle them from year to year!!)
4.  The bulletin boards of grocery stores. 
As far as READY MADE GARBAGE....can't help ya.  I'm sick to death of going thru the hassle of pictures/websites/etc to make sure my promotors know my items are ORIGINAL and HAND MADE by me , only to get to the show and be set up in the middle of people with 'beadwork'  made by Cambodian slave labor, chip and dip crocks (who makes them, really?) or doormats printed with college logos?  (hand made in the basement of the Mom & Pop business?)  I'm eagerly awaiting responses to this. Peace! - Amy The Bead Whisperer

Louis, A thought that I have would be send a flyer with the crafters application.  They could make copies of this and hand them out to friends, family and past customers to remind them of the show.  It would take very little time and would boost attendance at the show. 

I also noticed that some shows are now called a \"craft / vendor show.\"  People of all kinds are there and sometimes this cheapens the show's atmosphere. 

On fabric sewn items I pick it up and look to see if the tag has been cut off.  One show I noticed this and pointed it out to the show organizer.  She replied that the crafter had benn doing this show for years.  Maybe in the past they had handmade items but they apparantly have changed.  You could tell by the amount of the stock that she had.  She obviously did not make it all.  Each item was identical to the one beside it.  When something is handmade you can not duplicate it perfectly each time.  Her items were much cheaper than mine.  That is an obvious clue, too, that they were not handmade. 

I hope that this has helped in some way.  Some people also see the beauty in crafts that are handmade and will spend the extra to know that.  - Sincerely, Judy Schaub

Dear Louis, We are retailers of upscale fashion jewelry.  We NEVER apply to shows that are Crafts only or juried shows.  We only apply to shows that indicate retail is accepted.  In almost all cases where retail is accepted along with crafts, we are charged more money than crafters, in some cases we pay $175, while crafters pay $125.  I feel paying the extra money does give us the right to sell.  Many times after paying the extra fee, we have been approached by not only crafters but the promoters as well and would like us to leave.  We refuse and they allow us to stay because  they have already accepted our money and assigned a spot.  Retailers have a right to sell too.  How about 2 different lists.  I certainly do not want to sell at a crafts only event.  But when an event is said to include retail, I feel I have the right to be there.  Perhaps crafters should check the listings to be sure retailers are excluded.

We have had one change in what a promoter required with the jurying process that we thought was a new good idea.    They asked for 3 pictures of us doing the production of our product.  We make toys and other things mainly from wood and we design and of course detail out all of our products.  Unlike some other toy makers that we see, we don't buy patterns either.   Perhaps the requirement for pictures as we had to provide could help.   I am well aware that some people will still find a way to get into juried shows but maybe it will slow them down a little bit.

Just an additional comment on the subject of China imports:  we have run into a problem this year with one of our parts we purchase.   We use magnets a lot in our toys and we use the ceramic magnet that is applied with a \"ringed\" nail hammered into the wood.  The rings obviously give a strong hold.   This year when we ordered some more from 2 of the suppliers in the US the nails had basically no rings.   I suspect that their supplier is in China and the quality of products from China is terrible.

I organize a small (20-30 spaces) semi-annual bazaar in Chesterfield County, VA.  Our proceeds benefit our scholarship fund, so we really don't have an advertising budget.  I use online community calendars to get the word out, as well as road-side signs.  Some of the sites I have used are:
Also, some local papers will list your event for free in their printed calendar of events if you notify them well in advance.  I have also used the events area on Craig's List with some success.
That's my input on free advertising.  Hope it helps!


They need to take advantage of every avenue possible.
Signs - on streets surrounding the show
Newspaper ads -  most have local announcements that are free of charge
TV -  most local stations host local announcments 1-2 weeks in advance free of charge
Radio - most do events and happenings free of charge.
Post sheets at local grocery stores, ads on placemats in restaurants, table signs at restaurants, etc. There are lots of good advertising opportunities for little or no money.

Maybe I am simplifying this, but, to me, this is pretty easy. Request 1-2 copies of invoices for supplies. Here in Michigan we have a couple of shows that are doing this and while some crafters have a problem with this, I do not! If I am jurying in to a show, and take the time to hand make each of my items (I do dip mixes and this is a lot of packets to put together!) the last thing I want to do is see the next dip mix person pulling theirs out of boxes with packages that say manufactured in ???. It is crap. So, for me, I think the one of the best things they can do is ask for a copy of a reciept for supplies. If you are a candle maker, you should have receipts for wax, jars, scents, etc. For me I have spices, paper for labels, bags, etc. If you aren't buying your supplies and making your product, you will not have these receipts. Some will find a way around it, but it will be few I believe.

When it comes to jewelry  there is always tell tail signs.   The knots on the strung items.   and the silver rings you see so much of.  ask the vender if they do it with wax relief.  You can tell by their answer they do not have a clue what you are talking about.

Again you would have to know about the process and if you have done it yourself.  you can spot commercial retail a mile away.

I would be glad to explain in depth to anyone who is interested.  570-561-2419

Another dead give away is the cost of the metal they had to melt to make the rings.   for what they would have to spend there is no way they would sell it at a craft show.   Just not cost effective.

Great questions, I’m glad to see you addressing these issues.

Many of the show I do are sponsored by a radio station, newspaper, bottled water co etc.  With the sponsor not only do you get free advertising on their station but also they usually set up a booth at the show and live broadcast.

As far as the imports some shows require a photo of the workspace and the artist actually in the workspace doing the work, along with a description of the process.  Also many shows require picture ID of the artist to assure it is the artist and not the representative showing the work.  What about inspectors?  These people would visit the artist studios and verify that they were actually doing the work.  Those that are receive a certificate that would be required to enter a show.

Hope you get a lot of great ideas and solve this problem.

Louis, For many of the show we do, we find that altho they are \"juried\", the  promoters knowingly accept other than hand made items. We make jewelry, and I do not consider stringing beads and making anything, but we are constantly seeing booth after booth of nothing but beads on a string. We cut, polish and mount our own stones in silver. The thing I see most in the type/style of jewelry we make is that the junk coming from India and other countries is not fully backed. The pendants are mounted without cushion and the back of the piece is open not being covered with silver. This allows a quicker and cheaper method of mounting stones. Also, if there is a lot of stamping on the piece I would suspect it. Also, one very simple way for a jury is to have onhand several catalogs that offer the short cut items, items that are almost a kit. I know when I see something at one show and see the same or very similar item at another and the vendor is a different one . . . . . that is not hand made.  Many shows now are asking for detailed photos of your studio/shop etc. Along with photos of work in progress. It's a pain, but I think it is a good idea.  Also, I have had shows ask for billing, reciepts etc. for rough rock, silver etc.  How much silver jewelry can you make if you don't buy the silver sheet??  Also, I think if you are going to be a part of a jury, you should be familiar with the medium and have at least attended many different shows. As a juror, you cannot just look at something and say it's great without knowing something about how it is made etc.  ASK QUESTIONS. - Chris

I'm new in the craft show world and am only going to craft shows to get my name out there.   However I design all my own jewelry from supplies I purchase in piece meal at a very high cost to me. I have one of a kind of jewelry, high end,  very uniquely designed.   So I do resent the \"China\" made products.  Would it be of any help to have professional inspectors, knowledgeable people, to jury those products.  It would need to be done the night or day before actual show as I'm not into embarrassing anyone. This person would probably want to be paid, so that expense would have to come from vendors.  I personally would not mind a couple extra dollar fee, if I could be sure no one there had this fake product.   It is unfair to the consumer to advertise hand crafted items to have retail already made up be there. I resent it deeply.   I have had people say \"it's just cheap Chinese stuff\" regarding a particle craft show and that hurts the whole show.  Would it be possible to require photos of the actual product being made by the vendor in their studio or workplace.  That certainly wouldn't be hard to do. Hope this helps. Elva

My first thought is that if retail items are to be allowed, they should be limited to those that do not compete with anything that is artist created and/or embellished.  Example:  Food items, cosmetics.  If a company such as ... is included, they should only be allowed to sell and display cosmetic items, not jewelry, clothing, or other items that would be indirect competition with those that are crafted by hand. - MB

greetings,  some of the shows i do have use send pictiures of use in our workshops and of work in progress. every little bit helps, i guess.  i want to say THANKS for putting this craftlister thing togeather. i have turned it on to folks... - God Bless you and yours, steve

Hello Louis, I have only recently joined CraftLister & will be attending my first venue this weekend.  I make soap, the real stuff as opposed to that melt & pour junk, which I would I would hardly called hand-made.  I don't know what skill is required to melt store-bought soap & pour it into a mold.  Hmph. - Shayna Hollander - Shayna Bella Soaps

About the concern below about identifying hand made and non-hand made items.  We have done and continue to do a show that is very good for our business year after year.  Along with asking for photos of examples of our work, they also ask for a photo of one of us with one of our works in progress.  This sounded funny to us when we first got into the business, but as written below, we now know why this was their request.  This is obviously not a fool proof method, but it might be one way to weed out a few buy/sell items.

I'm a jewelry maker. The best prevention that I have seen is a few promoters who require a picture of you, the crafter, at your work station, working on a piece. Although these pictures could be faked, it would take a bit of work for a reseller to fake that.

Another hint in the jewelry category would be anyone who has more than a couple of any particular piece on display. Most of us only make one-of-a-kind pieces, or maybe have one or two copies. But if someone has ten of a particular piece, I'd question it!

As far as advertising, besides the mentioned street sign, newspaper, mailings...I like to get flyers or over-sized postcards that I can tack up at work, the grocery store bulletin boards, local restaurants, etc. Whether it's full color or just black and white - as long as it looks professional and gives all the needed info, I'll hang 'em up anywhere I can.

As far as the import retailers, I have only seen one at shows that I participate in. When I saw them again at a juried show I promptly found the promoter. They weren't invited back. Maybe it's not too much of an issue in my area -- yet.

The idea of crafters going around and checking other booths makes me nervous, though. I have had people comment that there is no way I made my stuff. I took it as a compliment that it looked professional, but I wouldn't like to have to defend myself. Guess I better get a portfolio together of pictures of me in my shop! wink - Keep up the good work! - Georgia McBroom

Word of mouth has been the best so far. I like to post my flyers at grocery stores and hand out catalogs/business cards at doctors offices, hair salons, anywhere I shop. I have a display at a local flea market (Trader's World) so I can get my info out to a large crowd each weekend. Hope this helps.

As far as the juried shows, I'm in retail so I can't really help. I do my part by not going to them with my stuff. Thanks again for your site. It's very helpful and I always tell craft workers that I meet about it. The links to other sites is also helpful. I used the for county fair listing. - Cynthia

Event advertising - the most successful advertising I witnessed this last fall was a promoter who advertised in a large newspaper from the city of the event with a post it note on the front of the paper advertising the event with a $$ off so all the customer had to do was grab the post it stick it in their purse and they would be sure to have it - saves the time of cutting a coupon, attendance at that show was great!  They also gave each crafter coupons to hand out to their customers with $$ off the rest of their shows, we ended up giving alot of those out too.  Surprisingly enough most of the customers didn't know that this promoter did more shows. On a related point, we find most promoters don't want us giving out flyers  for other shows we do that aren't their shows.

Removing retail - As much as my promoters try to get rid of retail, it is still there.  Those rusty stars tied with a homespun piece of material will never qualify for the handmade requirement of all my shows but they are still there.  I don't have any good ideas for dealing with these people, I wish I did. The latest show I signed up for invited you to submit pics and they juried, if it wasn't in your pics it cant be at the show, they say they come around and check your display against the pics.  We will see. Please include the following promoter in your listing, - Tom Callahan, Callahan Promotions

Louis, I am replying to your request for input into keeping retail out of juried shows. One of the easiest indicator of retail stuff is if there are tags on it! Some vendors do remove the tags, but you can still see if they were sewed into a seam. Also if a vendor has 100 items exactly alike, it is very possible they are retail. Handmade stuff can't always be produced in such high volume. I personally like to work at my craft during shows. This gives the public a chance to see that something is truly handmade. Also, vendors should always sign their handmade items, if possible. - Hope this is what you are looking for! - Cindy Davis

Promoting show is difficult to achieve unless everyone works together.If a vendor has a web site, shows may be posted there.Identifying objects from retail can be achieved only by vigilant visiting at the booths after they are set up. As a seamstress, I can usually look at the sewing and tell if it is an import.The cloth is not as good and the seams are not sewed as good.If they are imports, they should have a tag or a place where it is cut off. I like to work while at a show and this shows people we do make or embellish our own items.

Louis, I have all handmade items, some home decor, but mostly jewelry. And I know first hand how retail takes away from those who make handmade, especially those who make jewelry. Most retail who sell jewelry are able to sell cheap because they purchase their jewelry on ebay, and such and are able to then sell it cheaply.
If you are a crafter who makes handmade jewelry like myself you can't compete with them because you can't sell your jewelry as cheaply as they can. As it is we are unable to get enough to even cover our labor. Thus we suffer. And who wants to pay slightly more for ours when they can get it so much cheaper.
I have found recently that many retail venders are handmaking some jewelry, enough to take pictures and use for juried events. Place them on the table right with their retail stuff. This retail stuff being bubble shirts. These bubble shirts are not handmade but bought online cheaply, then sold at craft shows displaying some handmade jewelry with them. The main selling point is NOT their handmade jewelry but the bubble shirts. This I see as underhanded and taking away from crafters such as myself who works hard at my craft. I would say watch out for bubble shirts.
I hope this bit of information helps. And let me know what I can do the next time I see this type of thing. - Thank you for caring, Debbie Hagelgans

Louis, As for advertising.. there is plenty of free advertising out there to be had... I have promoted for a few years now and have always done it for free. At my shows, we do a donation bucket for various schools or charities.. different one each show..example... Middle school hockey team, child in need of medical treatments etc... those organazations will help put the word out there for you if they know they are getting a donation. I then contact papers, all TV stations who then help advertise it because portion of proceeds are going to a charity... A lot of times to weather crews from local Tv will do remote spots and come to your event during set up and do the weather and promote the show then too..

As for retail at juried shows... An absolute NO NO!! Come on promoters.. you are just making yourself look bad.. Make them remove them or you remove the vendor...I only allow retail at a non juried show and then it is in a seperate room from all the people who work their butts off and still don't get credit for their labor hours.. Juried should mean juried and no retail should fall through those cracks... Just my very vocal opinion.. I am a promoter and a crafter for over 20 years... Thanks for listening,- Mickie

As a retail vendor, I do not register for juried shows. Period!!!  However, as I walk around I see imports in the crafter items.  Some do not even take country of origin stickers off.  If these crafters have preferred spaces, this makes me angry.  God gave me the gift of finding unique things to sell.  He did not make me an artist!!!!!  Jean of The Jewel Tree INC.

Selecting what is truly handmade is a very careful proposition.  Perhaps you could provide a \"board\" of crafters/jewelers/artists to help determine the \"buy/sell\" people who do manage to get in to shows.  We ALL know that it does happen--and we all know that it happens often.  Those of us who are in our shops making the truly handcrafted items are the ones who should or could be allowed to judge...
Ouch.  Tough to decide who might be called on to do that.  A different category for each judge?  One for fabricated jewelry?  One for cast jewelry?  One for, sorry, you're already out of my area of expertise...pottery? wood?  I'd be glad to volunteer.  Other categories I'm sure would be, too.  I know there are people in the fabric/clothing area who have issues... - Thanks! - Cindy

Hi Louis: Just received your e-mail.  Since I am not a crafter, but do Tupperware. I hope that you don't start disqualifing home party sales from your listing.  I couple of things that I have noticed these past months, that when they event holders are setting up their tables.  A lot of them are putting the same type of items together.  There were a few jewelery sellers, some did look like they were \"China\" made and not crafted.  But they were very close together.  Also, there are a lot of \"food\" type home sales--... and others.  They were also close together.  I know that it is hard to place everyone where they want, but these things do not help the sales of the venders. 

Hope that this imput helps.  Your site has given me a few shows that I did not know about and were very profitable for me.  As a vender, this is the tiime to rotate the samples as people like to walk with mdse in hands. But it is also a chance to meet new party leads. They may not call right away, but they do call.

I would like to list some items on my site, but need some help and time to work through it. Will try to do something this week. Thanks for the opportunity to be of help. Keep them coming.

Hi - I am going to address the issue of mass produced items and how to preclude them from shows.  Here are a couple of ideas:
1.  Promoter could offer to \"pay\" a known and reputable crafter/artist - either through a $$ amount discount in booth fee, or a % discount in booth fee, or a corner booth for the price of an in-line booth, or a coupon for a discount for a future show - to go around and preview the booths, note any suspicious items/booths and give that info to the promoter to deal with it.
2.  One show in which I participate each year requires that you send them a picture of me making my items, including my raw materials, tools, partially assembled items, as well as finished items.  They are obviously serious about getting hand-made items but they also have a quality show each year. 
Some tips for spotting mass produced items are:
1.  Many items that look identical to each other.  Most crafters will not produce the same item in quantity because it is too boring!
2.  Very low prices in the booth.  For instance, I make jewelry and I cannot sell things for $5 or less.  My starting price is $20 for earrings.
3.  Talk to the vendor in the booth and ask questions about the product - How do they make it? What type of gemstone is that?  Often, they will not know the answer or will stammer around without saying anything meaningful.  When that happens, they haven't made it themselves.  Crafters are happy to discuss in detail their products, ideas and how they make their items.
4.  Look for the packing boxes.  I have been next to a vendor who flagrantly opened his \"made in China\" stamped boxes and put the items on his tables.  The boxes were then placed behind his booth in plain view. 
But, the most important thing is for the promoter to immediately remove the mass produced items from the show, preferrably before the show has opened.  The promoter would have no obligation to refund the booth fee, especially if this were made clear in the original show agreement between vendor and promoter.  Once a few vendors have been removed, word will spread quickly.  Quality artists will flock to the show and less of the mass produced vendors will apply to the show.  If the promoter is too greedy to risk losing these mass produced vendors, then nothing will ever happen.  It is really up to the promoter to make a commitment to the quality of the show and follow up with decisive action. - Gretchen Cox - Cox Creations

Non handmade items in shows.  - Every juried show I have been in with non handmade items, the people running the show put in to fill spots.  One show, ... held in Tucson in February---an invitational juried show, is notorious.  The promoter themselves sells bulk strung beads and pearls. I will never do that show again. If they want to section off part of the show for commercial items but to blend them in with our handmade pieces is offensive.  - Thanks for caring, - Linda

I hand paint frosted glass ornaments. I've seen similar ornaments in stores such as JoAnns and several cheap resale catalogs out there. Many of the ones I've seen use decals. I can't stand it when a customer asks me if mine are decal. They most certainly are not. My family can attest to that, my many-many long hours into the night when I am sitting up half awake painting them!

Resale at shows just burns my hide after working so hard at my craft all these years.

The way to tell if they are decal or not (on the ornaments, whether they are glass or ceramic) is each and every design is exactly the same as if it were stamped on. There is no way anything hand-painted would or could look exactly like the next.


it is very hard to control buy and sell items it is what promoters did to the craft business. all the promoters want to do is sell spaces there the ones that have to control this.

Regarding imported items at craft shows I have one little bit of information. I have worked in a bead store and repaired people\\'s broken jewelry. Alot were broken strands of beads that were originally strung on fishing line. Imported jewelry is many times strung on this cheap stringing material, you can look very closely at the ends where the clasp is and see what type of material was used for stringing.

Help!! One of my best shows has just informed me that it will now be allowing \"fine hand-craftables from other countries\" in an effort to add diversity, etc. But still claiming that their high standards for quality is still intact! This event is run by a community group where committee members change annually -- so they are not necessarily in the \"craft\" field as a promoter, etc. I need some verbage quick to share my displeasure! Where can I find recent articles on buy/sell on the website? A quick reply would be appreciated as the early bird deadline is just one week away!!!

Retail in juried shows. Seems many people have a different view. I sell personalized children's books and music cds using a computer, I print, cut and bind making a book right infront of you and my items are called retail items, which is fine with me. But I was at a show where a woman was custom embrodering shirts with the same computerized technology (software driven embrodary machine) and she was classified as hand crafted. Kinda strange to me, but this is the nature of the show circuit! Each promoter calls the shots for their show.

I am a one person show and don't have time to walk around at shows. However , I have a dozen or so friends that are more than happy to walk the show. They make notes and then find the event organizer and complain about the retail crap at an arts & crafts show

I am not too sure about event advertising, most of the shows we enter have been ongoing for a long time and therefore have an established following.  I would suggest that the event add to the cost of registration in order to have more funds for advertising the event.  Usually, an event that charges only $25-75 for registration has the poorest attendance.  This must have to do with the amount spent on publicizing the event.
However, as for juried events, I believe the \"Jury Committee\" should have someone experienced in each craft on the committee.  If you have experience as a woodcrafter then you would review the applications from all the woodcrafters.  I know that I can look at any sewn craft or jewelry craft and tell you whether or not they were hand made or purchased.  Once the jury process is completed, then these people should attend the show long enough to review the booths in their speciality.  One look at the products should be enough to determine whether or not these vendors would be allowed to return. - April Grace

I agree this is a Huge problem!  I make hairbows and other then examing the  bow I would not be able to tell.  I do  believe that if the festivals has suspisions that  it is the  vendors place to proof that  he/she can make the product.   Maybe in the juried pictures there should be pictures of you making the products. - Ainsley Mallory

I have been meaning to contact you for some time and as with everything else, time has gotten away from me.  I promote a few shows, and I wanted to let you know of one of the ways that I advertise (I don't remember seeing this first one anywhere on your site, so hopefully it will be kind of a new idea for other promoters).
At least 2 months before the show, I send a brief letter to craft supply shops (like Michael's, Jo-Ann's and a few of the Wal-Mart stores) within about 150 to 200 miles.  I include a colorful flyer with show information and in the letter, I ask them to post the flyer in their store.   I explain that it might catch the eye of a crafter who may apply and in turn purchase supplies from their store.  It may also catch to eye of a potential 'shopper' because as we all know, diligent craft show shoppers have been known to travel quite a distance to come to a good show.  I also include an application just in case the store would want more information, or want to contact me. 
Now I have no way to tell whether these stores post these flyers or not.  But a few years ago when I first started doing this, when I would get phone calls from potential crafters, I would make it a point to ask them where they found out about the show... I had quite a few tell me that they had seen my flyer posted in a store!
Another thing I do the day of the show, I provide a \"free\" raffle.  I fix a gift-type basket and fill it with seasonal items and set it next to a sign asking people to \"sign up for the FREE raffle for a gift basket\".  I ask that they be sure to put their name and mailing address down.  Then after the show -- I pick a 'winner', of course -- but then I collect all the little sheets of paper and compare the names and addresses to the ongoing label list that I have.  You would be surprised at how many returners there are, and I always double check addresses to keep them current.  I have a list of over 2,000 names that I send postcards to 3-4 weeks before the show.  (It's also interesting to see that there are a few people who sign up multiple times for the raffle smile
And of course the old stand-by: I send press releases to newspapers within about 150 miles of the event.  Earlier articles to advertise for crafters to set up; then closer to the show, articles to invite the public to come shop.  One of my papers will print a small ad for free if the show is sponsored by a not-for-profit group.  Another newspaper is very cooperative and lets me send 4-5 crafters to their office for a photo shoot of them and a few of their crafts and they publish it about a week before the show.  Again, I have no idea how many of these papers actually publish the press releases that I send; but if you don't ask, you don't get!
I also put up the ground signs and banners when the city lets me; it's pretty much of a \"no-no\" around here.  Normally I end up asking businesses and residents on the main streets if I can put a banner up in their property's grass area, and I promise to take it down the same day of the show, immediately after the show ends.  And of course I ALWAYS send them a thank you note of appreciation for allowing me to do that.  (You must ALWAYS send thank you notes - for everything!)
With advertising as with anything else, you have to be consistent (and persistent)!  And you have to work at it -- you can never get lazy, even when it gets old, and even when your crafters tell you, \"You should have advertised!\" -- if they only knew!
- Pam - P.S. \"Thank you for everything you do at; it's a lot of work and probably often goes unappreciated!\"

Hi Louis, Sorry it's taken so long for me to answer. My family is in the middle of moving. It's been a hectic couple of weeks. Let's see. What to do about retail items? I think that first of all, having crafters send in pictures of works in progress, as well as finished products prior to being accepted to the sale is a good idea. Not many shows do that. Also, actually checking up on vendors to see if they are selling what they were supposed to would be a good one. I've had shows that I've attended that I've never even seen the organizer, let alone see them check. I know they are busy, but that is really important to the success of a show.

One last suggestion I have, and it has nothing to do with the retail end of things, is vendors leaving shows early. This happens at every show, and it hurts the rest of us. People see folks leaving early, and assume it's a bad show and leave too, or that we're closing up early. I don't know how you would combat that, but it's a real problem, not to mention unprofessional.

I look forward to seeing the results of this. My friend and I are actually toying with the idea of promoting our own show after attending some really bad ones. I'm interested to see what fellow crafters have to say about this. Michigan's economy is really suffering and I'd love to see craft shows be a grass root way to help our state. We'd like to do something different with craft shows that put an emphasis on that. - Thanks! - Chele

It shouldn't be difficult for a promoter/sponsor to weed out retail vendors by using a true jurying system, AND FOLLOWING UP WITH THEIR OWN POLICING when they find vendors selling stuff unlike what they submitted to the jury. Most shows I've participated in are promoted by arts organizations, as opposed to big commercial promoters, so it's never been much of a problem.

Non-juried shows are different ballgames. Although the entry forms usually specify only artist- or crafter-made works, with threats to eject any vendor who violates this rule, I can't say I've ever seen that enforced. I actually observed at least one vendor jump into an empty space, set up and start selling manufactured crap. The worst part is that people actually BUY that junk! It's the same type of stuff that you can find in any K-Mart.

As to promotion of shows, I think that so-called \"lawn signs\" stuck into the ground at major intersections, highway exits, public parks, etc., about a week ahead of time are quite effective, as are handbills and broadsides left in local businesses. Small local and regional shows can benefit from PR pieces in local weekly rags, while larger shows should aim to get PR into the big dailys. Virtually all of that is free, but the papers must be hit hard and often to get the most exposure. I think that is better than paid advertizing.

I hope this helps. -- Mike - Photographs by Mike Berman

Hi, Louis  smile One of the best ways to promote a show is to give postcards to the accepted artists and have them mail them out to their personal clients.

I have a big mailing list that I send cards to before a show.  I swear that promoters try to get me into shows just because I'm known for pulling my clients into the show to shop.

One thing that seems to work is to charge admission to the show.  Pre-show tickets can be purchased at a discount.  That kind of incentive gets people to purchase tickets early (to get the discount) and gets them to the show despite bad weather because they've already spent the money on a ticket.

As to the buy/sell.  It's getting harder and harder to tell.  A lot of the buy/sell shows up on eBay before it makes it to the retail craft show circuit.  It might be a good idea to check out the sales there to see what's available to the vendors to pass off as their own.  I know that a lot of the buy/sell jewelry at the shows comes from ....  There are a few other major wholesalers out there that sell like that.  A quick internet search is probably useful to the promoters. - katherine gingrich

Event advertising: Newspaper ads are great, but it should be backed up with a free listing in the event calendar or listing under \"Art\" or \"special event\". I read those before I happen upon an ad. It’s also important to not over look the local papers in the area in which the show is being held. The personal mailings from the artist to their mail list are the best, with a little side note too. And while I am not for \"coupons\" because it makes me think of a produce sale, something in which the promoter is doing a opportunity drawing or they are getting some discount on food works for me. I think that the best thing the promoters can do is partner with a local cause: save the whales, the children, the animals, the environment, the world. People may come out to support the cause who might not otherwise come for the art.

Retail at shows: Yes the imports are getting better and cheaper. For me if the price is too cheap that is a great sign it is not being made by a person here in the USA. I would ask how they made and how they are able to come under such a price and most likely they will not be able to explain their costs. Quality is not cheap! The biggest problem I see with retail is that you see it at every show and the shows all start to look alike. Promoters need to take suspected retail seriously. There needs to be outside on site jurying. Questions of artist intent and statement, process and inspiration, education and skill need to be asked. I believe that an artist's statement, process statement and biography for the previous five years need to be sent with the application. What shows have you done, awards, are you published in print, do you teach, workshops, what galleries or museums carry your work, something like a trade reference statement (perhaps some standard can be set) etc. I rarely to show any more other than local ones that I know because of the retail issue and all the good shows have such heavy competition ( as they should). Why don't some of these promoters make more high quality shows for those of us who aren't already on the ... or other circuit! Thank you for all you do!

As both a promoter and a crafter-- I have worn both hats.  I have also wroked retail for many years in the gift industry.  When you know what you are looking for it isn't ahrd to find most of the good \"fakes\" out there.  I must admit that once in awhile some \"handmade in China\" stuff does get past me.  I hve been to craft show with my \"Handmade in America by me\" items and walked around a show making mental notes about the booths in the shows.  I can not believe the items that are alowed to \"slip\" accidently into shows under the guise of handmade.  I have even alerted the promoter to these \"crafters\".  Yet, the same people keep comig back year after year.  I believe that quantity ratherer the quality has become a standard in shows. 

Ways to tell quickly if items are NOT handmade in America:

1.  Check out the price. -- Does it seem rather low for the size of the item?
2.  Check in the seam line of so callled \"handmade\" items. -- if you look closely you can usually find where the\"crafter\" has cut the maufactures tag off of it.
3.  Does the booth seem to be filled with an abnormally large quantity of the same item?  Could be because they are NOT handmade by the crafter.
4.  Look on the back of wooden \"painted\" items.  Can you physically see or feel where the \"Made in China\" sticker was removed.
5. Does every piece in the booth look exactly like the other?  Example are the letters on the signs painted \"too perfectly\"  do all the scarecrows, andles and/or snowmen hav e the same eye placement and or expression.  If  something is truley handmade getting every single item to be exactly like the other is harder to accomplish.  Besides the idea of creating something by hand is to have something that is the same, yet diffrent from each other for uniqueness and originality.
6.  Watch the \"crafter\" as they unload their items from their vehicle and begin to set up.  Some don't even remove them from teh boxes they are shipped to them in.  And if they do they may still have the plastic they are shipped in around them or the inventory tags still attached. 

Newspaper ads have to be placed where people will see them.  If they are on the wrong page they are wasted.    Mailings should be on postcards.  They cost less to mail & the message is right there without opening anything - also they are convenient to stick in a purse or on the fridge.  Street signs must be highly visible from all directions and in place 1-2 days before the event, if allowed by the city.

Maybe they should try those coupon envelopes that come out every so often.  Other products and services, geared toward individual consumers, use them with some success

Handmade products are very rarely \"perfect\" and there will not be hundreds that are exactly the same.  There will be at least minor variations from one piece to the next.  The artist/crafter provides pictures of their work area and work in progress.       


Retail at Juried shows needs to be stopped.  There are a lot of great artist at these shows and people will be drawn to the retail because the vendor can sell at a much lower rate.  I know that jewelry is very popular among all women, however when you have a third of the vendors selling jewelry you start to hear comments from customers saying there are just too many.  I think promoters should consider a cap on any one type of vendor.  If promoters could send an advertisement to the crafters I think that will help promote the shows tremendously.  People like to travel to shows where they know a particular vendor.  Thank you for taking the time to care about our opinions.  If you have any questions please feel free to contact me. - Thanks, - Tanya Melczer - Lily Martini Designs

Promoters can request most wholesale catalogs simply by providing a tax ID#.  They should take the time to peruse these and plan to attend at least one large wholesale show per year.  Unfortunately, there are many promoters who do not care if the product is not handmade as long as they fill the show.  Many promoters want to have a large show and cannot fill their spaces if they require all items to be handmade.  Artists need to think about the quality of the show versus the size of the show and opt for some of the smaller shows where the buy/sell merchandise can be kept out.

You hit a nerve there Louis with the questions on how show organizers can avoid being duped into accepting commercially made products into their shows. Hope you don't mind if I run off the end of the page(s)...lmao

There are several means thoughts on each follow:

Avail yourself of the services of a volunteer 'staff' of serious full-time handcrafters...we're out there in the field weekend after weekend so we know what is done by the crafter and what is being passed off as such. After moaning to a couple of show organizers about the commercial stuff I ended up on the jurying The show organizer was encouraged first off to set standards in various fluff and hang versus start from scratch floral arranging. Once a set of standards were set, photos of work were scanned into the computer and emailed to names, no other information supplied. I and a couple of other crafters offered their input and the decision was left to the show organizer. Following years results were measurably higher.

Another method is to require more than one or two photos of the 'crafter' doing the work...albeit not a fool-proof way since someone determined to pass off made in 'somewhere else'goods can go to extreme lengths if they want. Most however, slip by because only one or two pictures of work in progress are required. I find that most of the vendors (I refuse to call them crafters!) that try to pass off imported goods are too lazy to do the amount of work involved where more than a couple WIP pics are required. One show I do requires 8 photos of WIP...even I had to get the camera out and shoot pics of raw materials to come up with 8.

Yet another good show jurying process requires that the crafter submit invoices of raw materials to substantiate the 'hand-craftedness'. Suppliers names can be blanked out as well as the prices if the crafter so chooses but having to round up invoices for every part of a product will weed out probably 99 % of the imports

A now defunct Lions Club show I used to do had the crafters that lived within 50 miles of the show jury in in person, bringing a sample of each product they were going to sell. That worked quite well. For those of us who lived further afield we were allowed to jury in with pictures but we had to present the real stuff to the jurying committee BEFORE we were allowed to set up.

Something I have never seen done at a show is the actual booting out mid show of someone who has passed their goods off as handcraftted by the exhibitor. Most show organizers I have worked with think that disrupting the show and leaving an empty spot is not the way to go...what they don't understand is that by allowing the vendor to stay, they are a) taking money away from the real hand crafters, b) acknowledging that they are helpless to prevent fakes c) damaging the reputation of the show to both crafters and the buying public. All it would take is for one or two 'made in anywhere' vendors to be removed mid show (preferably within a couple of hours of the start of the show) to show the real crafters that the organizers meant business. They'd probably have a waiting list (other things being good as well) for the next show....and yes, we'd help with the packing and lugging and give the organizers a standing ovation...well at least I

Another method of helping to ensure the validity of the handcraftedness is to google the product...I keep a file on my computer of the wholesale suppliers of the vendors who try to pass off their products as hand-crafted by them. It doesn't usually take much for me to find the importer/wholesale source of the I've volunteered to share my information with a number of show organizers.

You, here on this site might want to start keeping a list for show organizers of the products most often allowed in to the shows that are not hand-crafted along with the commercial suppliers of same...right now the following come to mind...wooden roses, the chenille puppets, mahoghany wood airplaces/cars, recycled plastic woven baskets, of course jewellery that's not hand strung/wrapped (the magnetic stuff is rampant right now), powder coated spinners for the yard, a lot of the wrought iron work, south american imports and the CD's of 'native' music. Oh and Russian imports (nesting dolls/eggs). And how could I ever forget those awful croaking

Show organizers need to understand that good quality handcrafters who actually do their own work will/can/do walk away from a show that allows import and commercially made products in because the more of that there is in a show, the less money the handcrafter can expect to make. Customers pretty much come into a show with a spending amount in mind, most hate to leave with any of it left! It's hard enough in this day and age to make a living this way without having to compete with made in 'everywhere else'. I look at it this way - if I'm going to compete with the commercial product I can do so at the local flea market - at a much lower cost, little to no travel and a whole lot less bother than jurying into a show only to find that my neighbors have cheated and lied.

Louis, if you want any further input, please feel free to contact me! Happy to be of service - Beth Angus - Head To Toes Crafts

Retail vs Handcrafted - Why aren't promoters checking the submitted craft items BEFORE the show? Do they not screen the applicants personally? They Should! As a show director, I spend all year visiting almost every craft show in our area that I find out about and \"scout\" for prospective vendors (must be handcrafted by the exhibitor, unique, quality work, etc.) If I suspect retail, I ask the vendor! Let them explain how they make the items. Most of the time, they will admit that one or two of their selections are retail. They don't get invited to our show. Simple! At the time of set-up, I do not have any qualms about asking for retail items to be removed, or leave if they aren't removed. Keeping the reputation of having all handcrafts, to me, is more important than catering to re-salers. Our customers expect quality work, and we aim to deliver. It's part of my job! People who whine and moan about this problem should get over it and do their job!
Re: Advertising - I have tried all the methods you mentioned, plus one more. We have a local Agricultural Fair (like the old county fairs) a couple of months before our show. I rent a commercial booth, solely for the purpose of advertising the craft show. It's a major chunk of our budget, but it seems to be helping. Newspaper ads and inserts here are a waste of money. I ask volunteers to distribute flyers to area businesses, for doors, bulletin boards, around time clocks, in break rooms, etc. In most cases, if the business doesn't allow flyers on doors or windows for the public, they will allow one near the time clocks or in their break rooms. Postcards to previous customers is essential.

I try to do only shows that state only handmade/crafted items made by the vendor are permitted and those who state they will remove anyone reselling premade items.  However, some items are hard to 'tell' from the ready-made.  I think the promoters should encourage only handmade items and police the vendors and follow through on removal of ready-made.  If they advertise the event as crafter/artists/artisans only, it should be a bigger draw--also, I hate to say it, but juried with a higher than $35 table fee.

I went to a show this past weekend as a \"shopper\" not as a vendor and I had no problem knowing what was retail and what was handmade. I attended this show last year and did not return this year because at least half of the vendors were selling retail items. (why are they called craft shows?) a person doesn't have a craft who sells items they have bought at a warehouse and put on a table. I also noticed that none of the handmade crafters that were there last year were there this year. a show that had a large number of handmade crafters last year had only 4 crafters with handmade items this year.

I think what the promoters need to do is take the time to go around and look. Anyone who promotes a show should be able to know the difference between handmade and retail, and should also make sure that the items listed on the application are what is being sold.

Louis, A Crafter's Schedule of future shows has helped me attract repeat business and referrals of friends of satisfied customers to my Feather Earrings at future Shows.  I place my Schedule right next to my Business Cards and it often results in an additional benefit--Invitations without Jury to other shows.

How to stem the growing rise of buy-sale-retail-etc is a serious problem.  I address the problem by vocally letting the promoter or sponsor of the show, know of my disapproval and question why they even had me incurr the expense of sending in a Portfolio for Jury.  Shows with alot of junk are removed from my list and I request to be withdrawn from their mailing list.  I've learned that a phone conversation with the Promoter or Sponsor will often tip-you-off to the quality of a show. - Health & Happiness, - Rich Sanford  DBA \"Light as a Feather\"

While I haven’t seen a lot of imports in my category (candles), I am frustrated by candles not made by the vendors at juried shows. I am only doing one show a year due to too many other commitments, but after I get my masters degree I will jump back in with both feet!
There are many places online to buy wholesale candles. Some of them will even put your name on the label, making it even easier to fool juries. I don’t know what advice I could give to keep this from happening, maybe juries should ask for photos of the crafter working on his or her craft in addition to photos of the product? They would find ways around that too. Sorry I don’t have any better advice.
Here’s an example I copied from which just happens to be the first one I found on a search engine after I read your message. Most of them are made in factories and not even hand poured. There was one I saw at nearly every show, but I can’t remember the name right now.

Event Advertising - I don't have much advice here except that a lot of towns (at least here in Texas) have local Magazines.  I'm shocked when they list upcoming events and the bigger art shows aren't even mentioned.  Promoters should know about local magazine and at least have their event mentioned.  Adequate road signs (especially if the show is in a hidden corner) is crucial and they need to be out at least a full week in advance of the event.  Keeping a mailing list of people who attend is great and for me, as a vendor, I like to e-mail my mailing list... so would love if events would send me an electronic flyer of the event for me to send around (as opposed to postcards that cost a lot to mail).
Retail at Juried Shows - I see it so much, that I'm really beginning to think the show directors don't care.  They say it on the application to encourage us to apply but then it doesn't seem that they really care.  I never see them walking around at shows asking people to remove things, and you see the same vendors at shows year after year that are clearly mass-produced.  HINT:  If the person is practically giving away the item, they didn't make it.  When the guy 2 spaces down is selling 40 hand-carved wooden roses for $10 - does it really take a lot to figure out that he did not make those by hand???  But if you bought a $10 vase from him, you got 20 wooden roses for free.  Come on.  To me this is blatently obvious, and he should've been asked to leave if the show was truly \"handmade\".  Look at prices, if they seem inordinately cheap, its because they are imported. 
Second thing is amount of stock.  I was 5 booths down from a guy at a NJ show.  He had a double booth space with tables all around the perimeter and they were literally piled with jewelry.  High piles, people had to dig through them... not to mention, again, he was selling bracelets for $10 and necklaces for $15 - not what you normally charge for artisan work.  He was selling like crazy, and I'm sorry, but no one can handmake that fast.  And I doubt many artists can even afford to stock that much inventory.  The sad thing was that show was already 40% jewelers, I don't know why the promoter felt it necessary to allow that in, it wasn't as if she was short on jewelry.  I found out he had been coming for years.  So apparently getting the extra booth fee is more important that retaining the integrity of the show. 
I think it would be wise to do 2 things - 1. Be honest.  If you say no retail, then you need to be looking for it and you need to cut it off immediately.  Not only will this improve the confidence of the real artists in your show, but it will also scare away those potentially not telling the truth about their items.  2. Find someone in each category with some experience to point out things that they think are not handmade, and then actually do some investigation.  One thing I can guarantee, is I will never apply to a show a second time that knowingly allows retail items despite saying handmade only. - Lesley

Hi Louis, I look for differences between items. If the crafter has 10 of an item, handcrafted items are usually all slightly different. I ask about the woods or crystals used (since I do more new age items). I find that many crafters bring projects with them to shows so customers can see the work and craftsmandship going into an item.
One thing where I find I question items is where something was purchsed retail and embellished or decorated by hand. While the entire item is not hand made, there was crafting involved and these items can be harder to pick out since the embellishments are what generally grab our eye.
A few crafters I have had stands next to offer special order or commisioned items. This is also a pretty easy way to tell they are hand made.
I hope you received more replies this time. I will send another reply if I can think of anything else. - Thank you, arrie Searles, Owner- Enchanted Sanctuary

I'm not sure if I have any new things to add to the list you already have.  I do craft shows in rural areas and we have trouble getting enough \"true crafters\" to fill a show.  I make all of the things I sell except one item, but it fits in with the things I make.  For the price I can buy it, I can't make it, let alone find the fabric, etc.  When I do a new craft show, I ask the promoter if it is permissable to have on my table.  If yes, okay, otherwise, I leave it in the truck.  I know there are vendors who make a few items to intersperse with their commercial items.  But, I feel that is between them and the promoter.  I don't know if these are the kind of comments you're looking for,  Thanks for your listings of area craft shows.

Hi Louis, Just a few thoughts...My husband and I have run a small craft show that caters to Longaberger Basket Consultants and their customers for a number of years. We traveled along the east coast from FL to CT and promoted about 20 shows a year. Our budget was limited because we had only about 20 vendors who traveled with us as we were dealing with a specific customer base. As crafters/vendors as well as promoters we get to see both sides of a show and sometimes, even when a promoter does everything right, you still may have low numbers of customers through the door and/or low sales.

We have sign in cards which ask our customers how they heard about the show. Consistently we find that mailing out postcard announcements to our customers and an email sent to all customers who have given us their email address are the way they find out about the show. We have over the years tried newspapers, and have found only certain small community papers, under a things to do section, actually bring in any new business. Display ads in papers which cost quite a bit never paid in added customers through the door. But again, we have a very specific customer we are trying to get in the door. I do imagine that larger shows with bigger budgets probably find a larger percent of their customers respond to a newspaper ad. Also, on our show's website, there is a place for people to sign up with their mailing info and email address which always adds to our mailing list. Unfortunately, with less and less interest in Longaberger, we have dramatically cut our number of shows and many of our wonderful vendors (as well as ourselves) are changing their product line and looking for new shows...which brings us to your informative website which I really do thank you for. Hope this note helps in some way.

- Sincerely, Pat Zink - Also, in response to how to spot an import...I make painted signs and accessories which are very identifiable as mine. Most painters have a style and you can tell only one person has designed and painted what they are displaying at a show. If there is a vendor with really cheap prices on their painted items, I know that they are either crazy to sell their work at those prices or they've bought them to resell.


Here are a few ideas that I have seen before at shows for both event advertising and eliminating retail at juried shows:

1. Event Advertising

Some of the best shows I have attended have advertised on local radio stations for at least 2 weeks prior to the art show.   Most radio stations have free spots for community events and yet most of the art guilds and chambers forget about this form of advertising.  I really feel this is the best form of advertising available.  One of our country stations in Northern Michigan is great about doing this....I have even heard about craft shows I had no idea were going on.....but they have to start least 2 weeks before the event.

Signs everywhere in the area....including flyers put up at grocery stores, Wal-Mart has an area to put up a flyer, restaurants, gas stations?, hotels.....anywhere that tourists or locals might go.....campgrounds, I could go on and on, but again it  has to be up early.  I see most promoters put up signs for a show the day or so before and that is just not enough.  The signage at the event itself needs to be large enough to catch everyone’s attention.  I realize that some cities have ordinances about the size or location of signs, but if the city or an organization in that city is putting on the event....they should make an exception.

2.  Buy/Sell at Juried Shows

A lot of shows now are requiring the artist to send pictures of work in progress and also sometimes a written description of your process.  Sometimes this does not work and that artist or crafter is still able to sneak in some items that may be similar to what they actually make.  Now to be honest with you this does not really bother me, but it does upset some artists.  That is where the on site jury process by a knowledgeable artist or crafter is actually the best method to pinpoint who is attempting to sell products from a catalog or off the internet.  The art committee has to be the one to take care of this situation....if the artists all start trying to choose the offenders, it could cause problems and hurt feelings, especially if that artist is actually making the items.  The committee can appoint a few artists with various Medias to walk the show and then report back their findings....then the committee can walk the show and make the ultimate decision.  The offenders should then be asked to remove the items in question or if the entire booth is buy/sell, they should be required to pack up and leave without refund.  They were juried in as handmade after all!  I have seen this method of jury done at a show and it worked very well.

I will also put in my 2 cents about my category.  I am a composer/musician and I compose and or arrange and play all my music and sell my cds at the art shows.  There are also many other musicians attending the shows who are wonderful legitimate artists!  However, there is now a group or several groups who have been set up with the cds and taught to play about five is flute music.....and they are getting into many of the shows passing off the music as their own.  Sunshine Artist magazine had a write up about this awhile back.  It is very difficult for an art committee to recognize that this is also retail.  Actually you can go to the website listed on their cd and see that this is not their website. 

Hope these ideas might help in some way!  I certainly appreciate is one of the best sites out there for artists and crafters with loads of information! - Thank  you, - Sharon Drury

We recently did a show where the event e-mailed a flyer for all the vendors to pass on. It was very successful.
Also, retail items are ok, as long as they are JURIED. Flea Market junk, and “box people” are detrimental to the business. It is up to the promoters to establish rules to keep these people out, and to follow their own rules, by asking them to leave when they do not comply.
The best organized show we have EVER done is the Centennial High School Holiday show in Franklin, Tennessee.
Google them for more information.
Excellent points include:
Hospitality room for vendors with coffee and donuts during set up
They offer assistance with set up and tear down
They follow the rules they establish.
Juried process is intense and they require photos of every product you include in your booth, other items will be removed or you will have to leave the show.

Cash office for vendors to make change
They offer post cards with all show information early in the year so you can hand them out at your other shows, or mail out.
Extensive advertising – they are non-profit, so they promote to local TV stations and newspapers.  When the charity is highlighted, you tend to have more shoppers, and the money goes to a good cause.
The booth space is expensive, compared to other shows in this area, but it is worth the price. - Thanks for requesting the input. Lydia

RE: Advertising
I have been in charge of small shows in the past and some of the easiest, and most cost-effictive ideas are in your own backyard!  There are many FREE avenues for advertising: school websites (usually in your area), many tv stations have \"community bulletin board\"-type segments that will gladly promote craft shows as long as you meet their deadline (days in advance) criterion, any many newspapers do the same.  Another great source are radio stations, as they have similar \"spots.\"  Other things often little or no cost are city/town websites as most have a \"calendar of events.\"  Also explore colleges, universities and ask if you can either put up flyers/place on website. 
I am also a crafter and while I do not make my living at it, it is extremely important for me to know where the advertising is done.  All too often, smaller shows especially, put up flyers in their town, place ads in their local newspaper and feel that is enough.  The town I live in is less than 2000 people and when I ran some craft shows in our town, we ended up with crafters/visitors from even out of state (we're near the IN border in MI).  I am a firm believer it is not the budget you are limited to, but what you do with the money you have !!! 
I must add a slight \"pet peeve\" of mine.  Many smaller craft shows have gotten in the habit of sending a few flyers for you to \"put up in your area\" when they send your confirmation back to you.  I try to get them up, but I know for a fact from talking to fellow crafters at shows that often this does not happen - for one reason or another; therefore, a lot of the \"limited budget\" ends up in the \"circular file.\"  I submit to show promoters to better utilize your budget and not depend on vendors to do your job for them.
RE: Jury Shows 

Normally I don't go to juried shows, but the problem is, as you know, totally widespread.  I have adopted a procedure for myself that seems to help a lot.  When I call to inquire about the show, I ask \"do you allow resale, retail, or home show items?\"  If the answer is \"yes\" I politely explain I am a crafter, called because your event said \"craft show\" and I will not put myself in the position of competing with those items, and suggest if they want to have a \"bazaar or flea market\" please call it that.  I have even had occassions that I have gotten a call back because my comments prompted them to call other vendors (crafters) to ask their opinion too, and asked me if I would come if there were none of the aforementioned.  I went and had a nice show.  I truly believe many smaller shows don't understand it makes that much difference to the crafters, a space fee is a space fee, and it sometimes takes a polite, forthright approach to \"enlighten them.\"  The few shows I attended before incorporating that question which had retail, etc. and when near the end of the show someone either comes around to ask questions, or you fill out the \"comments sheet\" I have let them know then.  I will not knowingly go to those shows anymore.
Hope this helps, and you have a great sight !! - calmichgirl51

With regard to advertising, I think street signs are the most effective for the smaller \"neighborhood\" shows, which appear to be most of what is advertised on your site.  But often I have seen signs that are too darn small to be read from the car.  I catch a glimpse of \"CRAFT FAIR\" and then I can't read anything else.  The signs need to have REALLY BIG PRINT and simple information--the date, the time, the location.
I recently did the Hope UMC show, and I also noticed on my way there in the morning that in addition to their plentiful and easy-to-read signs, that morning they had added simple signs with big arrow indicating which way to go to get to the show right next to their original signs.  I think this was a big help to people who saw the signs but didn't necessarily know how to get to the show, or people who perhaps saw the sign just that morning or the evening before and decided to go spur of the moment.
I talked to several vendors at that show, and most of them learned about the show through advertising in the penny papers and local shoppers guides.  Sticking with smaller local papers or the free event advertising on local channels or chamber of commerce websites might be a more effective and less expensive alternative.
A third option that might work is that the organizer of the Hope UMC show came to see me at an earlier show and gave me simple cardstock postcards with the show information on one side and directions on the other side.  I happily put them out next to my business cards--if people saw something they liked at that show, they might be inclined to come see me at the next show.  In fact, two people who came to the earlier show ALSO came to see me at the Hope show and I have now started a fledgling mailing list with my upcoming shows.  I have groupies!
 As far as how to tell the retailers from the crafters, I think the easiest way is to look at the pieces.  If there's a lot of variety in patterns, in materials, in styles, they're probably crafters.  Also, I know if someone asks me about a piece, I can tell them what the different stones are, how I made it, how long it took--even what I was thinking when I came up with the idea.  I don't mind retailers who are selling something that can't be handmade, like Tupperware, but I don't think it's right to put jewelry or candle or puppet retailers in a show with crafters.  Part of the draw for a craft show is getting a one-of-a-kind piece that has a little bit of the crafter's spirit in it.
Also, I just wanted to tell you that one of the things I like about your site is that you provide the option to list an email contact.  I work a full-time job, and calling people during the work week isn't really an option, and frankly I don't like to call in the evening or on weekends, when I might interrupt someone's dinner or family time.  Email is an easy and quick way to unobtrusively make inquiries, send pictures of my items, and receive application forms and other information.
You might also consider--if this is possible--offering the lister an option to put in a word or pdf document of their own application.  I have frequently used the on-line application and then had to fill out another one that the lister sends to me.  I'm not very technical, so I don't know if this is possible or expensive to do, but it's just a thought.
I hope this all helps.  I really like your site, and I've heard from organizers that they like it, too.  Despite the hard times right now I hope you keep it going. - Take care! - Alexa Finkler - Neu Yorke Gifts

Most of these re-tailors are very discreet in what they do. Sometimes It is not all ways the promoter that can spot or identify what is made and what is not. I have been to many shows and the only way to have known that some things were not authentically made was because it was in a category to which i was familiar and new that some things came from catalogs.  Therefore, it is important that the artist take on some responsibility and bring forward any questions they may have regarding authenticity (retail goods).

Hi Louis- This is Florence @ FLOBOcreations.  Bob & I do what we can to advertise the shows that we do. We do not depend on the promoters to do all the advertising for us. We get the word out to our co-workers (who were our original customer base) & they help us spread the word to their friends & family via email & word of mouth. We also hand out pocket sized schedules of our events to all our customers at our shows.  I make the schedule the size of a business card so that they can slip it in their wallets. We have done well at poorly advertised shows because our customers knew where we were & came out for us or sent their friends out to us. I got this idea from a jeweler at a fair years ago. He made his schedule letter size & although I thought it was a great idea, I couldn't really see anyone carrying it around with them, so I made mine smaller. I start out with all the info that's on our business card & then list my shows below. I update it each week as we add events. It's really worked for us. 

Bob & I sell gift baskets that I put together, occasional craft items that I make & items that we buy & resell.  We never do a juried show or try to pass our non-handcrafted items as hand-crafted. We see it done all the time. One guy we see buys his plush from an importer that we deal with & sews his own labels on it! I have seen others remove the made in China sticker & replace it with their own. Another guy sells Nativities imported from China & sells them as \"made in the Holy Land'. That's just not honest at all! Retail vendors & craft vendors can co-exist at a fair but the retail vendor needs to be truthful about what he is selling. Bob & I have a following because we are very selective in what we choose to sell & we package them as ready to give gifts. Our customers trust us & come back.

Thanks for a great site & all the time, money & effort that you put into it! - Sincerely, Florence   

The most simple form of advertising for art shows is probably signs along the roads - main roads - near where the art show is. Also in majorly populated areas...especially higher income or artsy sort of areas. Signs can be reused..... or have a sign that you can just add on the place and time...big ART SHOW sign with a smaller sign that says where.

Also some radio stations take art shows a public service announcements.

Also websites for cities, states, towns, usually have a calendar of events and love getting material.

Another suggestion is having the show promoter send an ad/announcement to all the vendors, who often have email lists of clients and can send them out.

This is a horrible problem! I have done 2 shows where the vendors right next to me have all retail from China products! One thing you can look for is behind the table they have boxes of the same stuff to replenish their supply. Both of the vendors did this but tried to be very discreet. The promoters have to take full responsibility for this and the only way they will do this is if we complain (loudly)!!! Thank you for addressing this!
Retail at Juried Shows:  I don't think the majority of promoters are interested in stopping retail.  I believe they are in it to make money and the more vendors they get the more money they make.  They say its juried and want pictures and only hand made items accepted but do they follow thru....NO.  There is only one truly juried show I attend as a vendor where the promoters actually walk around and inspect the set ups and if there is something they do not accept you will be told to take it down (the show is very well best).  How many do that?  Not many, they are afraid of losing the money. People know a quality show when they see it. It is truly in there best interest to really jury the show but I don't think you will convince them of that.

My craft is mainly sewing.  My husband was with me at a show and we walked around and I saw something that I thought was nice and my husband said, that is not hand made, he said look carefully, they are all exactly the same.  You cannot hand make something exactly the same.  At least I can't. 

As far as walking around and jotting down spots you suspect or know for fact are retail and telling the promoters is a good idea and I did it, but promoter did nothing about it.

I am retired and love making my crafts but am thinking of getting out of the business.  We just can't compete with those cheap prices.  I have dropped many shows and am just keeping a few good ones. 

Finding re-sale items in a craft show is the business of the Promoter.  One way to help them is to get catalog from ...,  etc. or go to Market close to their home base and look at what is offered to venders with a retail sales permit.  They can only buy at a good price from these resources.  It would not take long for a promoter to recognize the offenders.  Each show that promoters allow re-sale items as gone down or disappeared. 

Ref:  advertising, In the Midwest the television seems to reach more people.  Does not need to be big spots, but repeated.  There is lots of farming communities in both Iowa, Nebraska, and Missouri and the TV seems to reach all.  The promoter that does the best in Iowa and Illinois is Tom Callahan.  He advertises on TV, news paper, with post cards with per cent off, and he does not allow re-sale items at all.  We ask him about finding re-sale in his show and he has received catalogs from the companies most ordered from.  - Thanks for your question and your work. - Coreena Sanders

Thanks so much for trying to help us get our arms around these issues.  Here are my suggestions:
Event Advertising—I’m a beginning home business crafter and don’t have a lot of money to spend on advertising but have found ways to get a small following.  Hope this helps.
Promoters—Please send out a supply of handouts to vendors a few months before the show.  Ask your vendors to put your handouts in their bags at other events to help advertise.  That doesn’t cost the vendor a thing to hand them out and it will be going to folks that already like going to festivals and bazaars.  Be sure to give vendors an electronic copy of the flyer that they can send out to their friends and customers on line or place on their websites.  This also doesn’t cost anything and can get the word spread.  Consider free admission with a flyer if there is a cost to the event.  Or offer free raffle tickets to any raffles you have if they bring the handout in.
Vendors—Hand out fliers at other shows to help obtain a following for yourself.  Request an e copy of the handout so you can send it out to customers and friends and put it on your website if you have one.  I always make a list of all events I will be attending for the year and offer a discount if they bring the flyer in.  You can add the promoter’s flyers to yours and put them in the bag as you make a sale.  And put them on your table to attract interest.  Consider a website for your craft where you can build up client listings and can add information about the shows you are attending.  Post event listings at local coffee shops or retail stores that have a bulletin board.  Send a note to local papers to tell them of the event and ask them to mention your booth.
Removing retail from events—this is a hard one.  I know that many people ask me if I have a shop and I don’t.  I’m a home crafter that has filed my name with the state and advertise under that name.  I try to look as professional as possible and I try to make quality items.  When I walk around I find it hard to identify retailers unless it’s something like Creative Memories, Avon, etc—although they would probably argue that they are home party outlets.  Would it help in any way to have a retail area at festivals and bazaars?  The retail stores also have a following so I can see where they would want to come to the shows—inexpensive for them, lots of traffic.  Put them at the back of the show and if they do have a following, folks will have to walk through the crafters to get to them.  I’m disappointed that many promoters will accept applications from such companies that are obvious retailers.  I am happy to see promoters ask for pictures of my work area in addition to my items for sale.  I think promoters should designate a time prior to opening that they will be reviewing all booths to make sure they are not retail.  And then follow through.  They could offer free admission to a booth for the following year if a retailer is identified at a show.  Have a box where we check in to drop off a note on who we think are retailers.  Also have something on the evaluation that asks for specific information—which booth # did you suspect, person’s name from name tag, etc.  Promoters could also share information among themselves if they aren’t doing that already. - I hope this helps! - Sue Robinson - Canine Closet

For judging hand made jewlery the best clue is a booth that looks so crowded with merchandise it looks like a store. If you make your own jewlery there is only so much you can make if you go to sell it on weekends. - Bobi

I saw the advice for the promoters and agree they should be assigning crafters in each category to review the work and let the promoters know who they should maybe investigate further.  Also, some shows that I have inquired about have requested for me to submit a piece of my work for review prior to being accepted to register for the show.  Maybe this is another way the promoter can protect the supply of hand-made crafts.

Hope this helps.  Thank you for all that you do. - Lisa Carter-Tavernier

The best suggestion that I can offer is for vendors to actually send in a piece of their work.  A snapshot does not actually do just any good.  I'm sure there are plenty of vendors that send in pictures and bring something in addition to what they submitted.  But if vendors were held to only what they sent in as an actual sample maybe, just maybe they would stop smuggling in handmade products from China. - Best Regards, - Shalynne Barr

I have only run across one woman who resells things she claims she travels to China to buy. But she makes no bones about the fact that she buys them in China, either. I am doing more juried shows this year and will be more than happy to watch out for retail. As I learn new things about identification I will happily share them as well. Thank you for this heads up - Lorene Girand -Wrapsodies in Metal

If the suspect artisan is in your craft, ask them how they created a specific effect seen in the work. Usually they will walk around the subject if they don’t do it or know how to. - Nancy E. Burke - Quicksilver Glass

Hi there, I completed two applications that ask for a brief resume, on even asked for an artists statement.  I think that's a pain, BUT a good idea in the long run.  As far as jewelry, which is my category, it's primary that the pieces be well made.  Many items from China etc... have unfinished clasps (crimps not neatly folded over), use beads that are plastic or ordinary.  I make my own beads as well as use some other glass, natural materials, and precious metal.  I think the jewelers applying to shows must show that they go beyond putting components together, or if that's their thing, then limit the number of artists that do that.  Many of us fabricate our own metal, beads, and gemstones, learn to distinguish (or ask on the application) us from the others.  Often an artist statement will identify the process.  Yep, some may stretch the truth on those as well.

The show that asked for the artist statement also asked for a refund statement, that's different and perhaps a good thing too.  Many jewelry companies are popping up that do business like Avon.  A rep comes to the show and then sells things she has and takes orders.  The website states nowhere who makes the items.  At first glance, it appears that the vendor is legit, but authentic jewelry artists rarely have promotion materials that are that professional.

Also, is the jewelry on the slide a cohesive set or just some necklaces etc...Retailers may not offer sets.

You might suggest that promoters or other \"fraud detectives\" ask the jewelers if they can fix a clasp for them.  Most jewelry artists I know will gladly do this if possible.  A fraud won't know a clasp from a jumpring I'm sure.

I hope that makes sense.  ASk for clarification if needed. - Thanks for doing this. - River Wolfe

Hello Louis, I believe you have listed the best forms of advertising already.  The street signs are very important and the quality of the signs are a reflection on the image of the show.  Newspaper ads with admissions coupons or an extra raffle entry will increase the chances of someone clipping it out of the paper and placing it on their refrigerator as a reminder.

It's helpful to keep track of the attendees from the shows so announcements can be sent to them the next year via direct mail or e-mail.

I've also heard some great radio advertising where the radio announcer will interview someone affiliated with the show and that person will talk about what is planned for the show, what they can expect to see while they are there, etc.

Most vendors keep some type of customer list.  It's more economical to e-mail our customers.  That said, it would be helpful to us to promote an upcoming show if we had a promotional e-mail flyer sent to us that we could distribute to our customer list as well.

These are my ideas. Take care, Louis - Best regards, - Diane

Dear Louis: As a professional doll crafter I am all to familiar with imports. I even have to compete with it in the stores I sell to. I will not be able to do any shows this year do to health but I would be more than happy to attend the local events in my area that I know are strong juried shows. While there I'll keep a log of how many \"crafters\" are selling imports. But tell me, I heard that juried shows will accept altered imports? Is that true? I've seen a few crafters like that, it really makes me mad because my dolls are 100% hand-crafted, from body to completion. let me know if it will help if I just attend the shows and take notes. Sincerely, Betsy Evans, From Heart to Hand Designs, Sevierville, Tn.

Hi Louis, Getting the public into shows always seems to be a problem especially into the newer ones.  Some of the promoters in my area (southern New Jersey) are really quite good at it though. They seem to be able to \"plaster\" their information everywhere: street signs, flyers in every store that has a bullentin board, and advertising in the local papers.  I like the idea of handouts to shoppers at other craft shows, maybe some of the vendors would be able to hand them out to their customers?  Especially if it is a show that I am going to do anyway it would promote me as well and it won't cost me a penny.  There are some promoters who provide some form of notice to their vendors already signed up to hand out to customers at shows prior to theirs.  As for free advertising almost every newspaper has a \"what's happening\" section and as far as I know it is free.  You just have to make sure the paper gets the info in time.   I do agree that many of the promoters are very good at filling their shows with vendors but are lousy at getting in the customers.  They seem to feel that as long as they have filled all of the spaces they have available, their job is done.  To bad for them they will never build a following of loyal vendors and never will they have a loyal following of shoppers.  There is one show that I do every is a well know local show at a local school.  There are people who come to the show every year looking for me.  They also look for the \"cookie lady\" every year and the \"wood carver guy\".  This is a show that is advertised, bannered and flyered everywhere (all relatively inexpensive modes of advertisiment).  It is just a local show that we all love doing because we all make money, the public loves attending because they know they are going to find the people they have been dealing with for years and the promoters have gotten it right.  They sell every space and everyone keeps coming back year after year.
As for retail.....that's complicated.  I REALLY resent being charged a jury fee and find that when I get to the show, two booths away the plastic airplane whirlygig guy is setting up, still ripping the tape away from the boxes he just received from the Orient.  If I KNOW that there will be retail at the show and I decided to do it anyway, so what.  But do not lead me and everyone else who spends half of their waking hours creating their craft to believe that this is a strictly handmade show!  I don't think it should be up to the the crafters to police the shows, that is what we are paying the promoters to do!  But I guess the point that is being made is that the promoters are NOT doing what we are paying them to do.  It's unlikely that too many of us are going to pack up and leave a show once we discover retail.  But the promoters should make sure that anyone who has lied to get into a show is forced to leave AND forfeit their show fee.  And if it takes the crafters policing the show then maybe we should.  It might make the promoters a little more selective when filling those spaces. - I hope some of this helps, Mary

Hi Louis, I am relatively new to the crafting world, so I am learning as I go, but I do have some ideas about advertising, as my background is marketing.
First, I have a website and a blog for my own business. As soon as I have been accepted into a show, I add the pertinent info (and a link to a webpage, if available) about it to my blog. As a matter of fact, my show schedule is a separate, highlighted section so people can easily tell where I'll be.
Second, I have discovered that most radio stations' websites have a community events section, and they are usually very good (at least in my area) about posting event listings (such as a craft show!).
Third, I think it's really important for the promoter to invest in listing their events in craft show directories. Publications such as: The Sunshine Artist, The Art & Craft Show Yellow Pages, Crafter's Guide. Being listed there would hopefully increase the number of handcrafters who apply to be in the show, and help cut down on the number of retail outfits that get in. - Hope this is helpful. Patience - J Smile Creations Crafts

Yes, it really burns me when I have spent hours preparing for an arts and crafts show only to find 3 or 4 other vendors selling the exact type of jewelry that I sell but theirs is all from a wholesale catalog. Some promoters do better than others when it comes to having several like vendors. For one promoter I copied a couple of pages from a wholesale catalog to show them the typical prefab stuff from China.

Louis, Tips on identifying retail items: Many identical items (I make jewelry and acrylic paintings - no two are ever alike, let alone identical) Obvious mass-produced packaging, such as everything in cellophane. Tags that say Made in China. Can't get much more obvious than that! I attended a big craft show a few months ago and bought something I thought was handmade, but when I got it home, discovered where the tag on the back of the item had been cut off. Obviously a Made in China item. That craft show reportedly only lets \"handmade\" items in, but over half the booths were obvious retail. Inferior quality - when you buy cheap, you get cheap merchandise.

Low, low prices. If the items were handmade, the crafter would be charging much more. Hope this helps! I am tired of competing with Made in China (or wherever) retail at craft shows. - Jami Monico

Hi Louis, I know our local TV stations normally have a free section on \"What's Happening This Weekend\", excellent for promoters!

Also on the retail side, have the vendors, when possible working on their crafts at the show, I would think this would work for jewelers and doll clothes without any problem. I am currently at a show put on by Huff's Promotions at a mall and the vendors there are working on their crafts at the show. No resale items are allowed, the vendors have sewing machines there and the jewelers are making product while waiting for customers. The walk around before a show opens would work well, if the promoter takes the time to do it. I would think that if all items are hand made no two would be exactly alike. Several of the shows I do are very picky and very worthwhile. - Bob - PJ&B Gifts

It is hard to machine make stained glass items, but these would look too polished, too even, no flaws at all!  Some people use plastic instead of glass and the lead/copper lines make unbelievable curves that are not possible if glass is being used.  Flaws are impossible on hand made stained glass, in fact most artisans in stained glass can tell from the solder work who made the piece and when. - Amy Hipple - Columbus, OH

I am a professional Facepainter, and most Juried shows do not allow my craft, as my items are not allowed in. As far as advertising, I think it is important that each event be held when and where they advertise, year after year.

How about just suggesting to promoters that they go to the wholesale shows themselves, so that they can see exactly what goods are available?  That’s what we did when we ran a “hand crafted only” boutique.  It’s not perfect but it kept our crafters better than 95% honest.

Hi, Louis -- My category is basically textiles: knitting, weaving, handspun yarn, etc.    What I see in import catalogs, etc. are not factory -made so much, as they really ARE handmade -- but in sweatshops in China or the Third World and the women forced to do these things are being paid a pitiful amount to do it.  Therefore, the sellers/retailers can undersell us every time.

When I see \"IMPORTED HANDWOVEN ( or handknitted) ALPACA\" shawls on eBay (for example) for 19.99 -- I know that the seller didn't pay the maker anywhere near what making such an item would be worth, and I certainly wouldn't sell a handwoven handspun alpaca shawl for less than $125.00....

As for how to catch them, that's hard.  SImple weaving looks the same whether done by hand or by machine; there are a number of hand-manipulated weave structures that can't be done by an automatic loom, but they can be done by hand, by cheap labor.  Knitting is the same way.  My thought is, if the woven or knitted shawl, blanket, stole, etc. of \"handspun\" (may  or may not be) natural fiber yarn is extraordinarily cheap, the odds are the seller didn't make it herself.  If the seller can't explain what dyes she / he used, or what weaving pattern that is, might be another indication. - Rhonda - AspenTree Yarns

Posters, I been in & out the Carny business, puppeteer, theater performances for 40 years, Posters in many locations really do work, if put in right places. They MUST pick places where the right people, such as high end  clothes stores for cultured craft shows. Hi volume areas work because it just does. Spend for some printing, not top end just plain but specific. Works every time I have used it. - Dave

My thoughts: Event Advertising - it's not just the ways of advertising, but the number of times an event is placed in front of the desired audience and the accurate description of the actual event.  One recent event in my area blossomed this year compared to past years because they partnered with a widely read local newspaper and printed ads and articles daily for two months prior to the event.  The other issue I see with advertising is unclear or misunderstood descriptions of events.  I've attended several where people are walking through and their expectations are different than the event's purpose.  Just one last thought - the market may be becoming so saturated with similar events that people simply don't have time/interest in attending because they know there's another one somewhere else on another day.   It might be a better strategy to pool resources, locations, etc. into concentrated, focused events only a few times a year....
Retail at Juried Shows - I am a retailer so I stay as far away as possible from juried events.  (It's also very obvious that I'm a retailer, so it's never an issue for me.)  However, a few suggestions - make sure the application is clear that ONLY JURIED items will be accepted and require a photo with applications. (I know many promoters already do this.)  What may also help at the actual event is to have a check-in/screener at registration who verifies that all items to be displayed are juried.  If not, the vendor is not allowed in, forfeits his space fees and is not allowed to participate at the same event in the future.  That screener can also do the walk-around during the event to ensure the integrity of the event.  I do think, however, that the vendor bears some responsibility for this as well - if it's a juried event, the vendor should respectfully decline or not bring any retail items.  - Hope this helps... - Dorothy Evans

Louis, Thank you for asking! (I am new so have not been asked yet) - ALL and in do mean ALL shows should require pictures of the work in progress. Maybe also a recommendation from a known artist or group? All work!!! ALL WORK should be inspected as the artists sign in or are setting up. Most shows I have done ignore vendors or artists who show up with re-sale products. There is too little policing by the promotors. Vendors might want to let local cities (most or all now have web sites) about shows so they can add the infor to their sites. Our city adds info about whats happening in ours by making notes on our water bills. I hear at every show its the same old same old. I am lucky because I carve what I make, and am hearing I am unique. Many shows never contact the artsists asking for input, which is a good idea. There needs to be a central info site (yours would be good) that people can be listed that have been caught selling garbage. Maybe someone could come up with a certification system too, of being 100% USA made and by the artist? Just an idea. I am finding out many shows are interested not in quality but quanity of their pockets and filling spaces. Its expensive for us artists to do shows and wind up in the hole after. Too large of a gamble. We are limited in our funds, and I feel taken advantage of too much already. Promotors also need to get timely INFO to us to post and send to our customers too. Many times or most I get info 2 days out, whcih is NOT enough time to let everyone know. Most of us are preparing the last minute details by then. Hope this helps in some small way? And I thank you for all your hard work, and caring about us artists.. its VERY refreshing~ - DryRiver Carvings

A lot of the show promoters say their town will not let them put out signs.  I do a church that gives each member a sign to put in their yard, and this works great for them.

I was at a local show recently and there was a woman there who apparently had beaded chains with commercial pendants, which I think is fine.  However, she also had an entire case of the commercial pendants for sale as well.  You can easily spot these pendants as they are usually large and have two or three stones set in them, work a beader would not be doing. - Carol Heichel - Merck Vaccine Division

A sure way to identify China-made product, is that every single piece is exactly the same.  The stitching, or painting, or patterns.   And there will be LOTS of it.   Also, look for their packing boxes when unloading.  If the boxes are sealed, printed with 'MADE IN CHINA\" and they are loading the product right out of the box, wrapped, there ya go.  - Jan Pellizzer - JAN'S JEWELS

Louis, First of all, I almost dismissed this email as mail with information that was already sent before. I had to scroll down to find out what you wanted a reply for.

I am new to this business, having gone to only one event in December, which turned out to be a disappointment. This was with a school in my local neighborhood, which advertised for at least two months in the local newspaper. I was excited. There were no signs out front and almost no customers. I am willing to try again this spring with the same event because they will move the action to the front of the school and that should draw in the customers. Signs on the road way would help. I sell retail items, so I wouldn’t be in a juried show. - Cheryl Villalobos - At Home America HomeStyle Specialist

Idea for advertising:

Flyers at churches (totally capturing the whole \"girls day out\" for all ages)--send letters early, invite the red hats, send extra coupons, or have free donuts in the first hour..... all good ploys I've seen work before in the shows I've been in....

Flyers at coffeeshops/starbucks (I work for starbucks and my store is really great at supporting local \"home grown\" things--they have a public bulletin board, and frequently the employees are into crafts themselves)

RE the Signs pointing the way in--there MUST be multiple signs, if the show is 2 or more turns off a major street and the location is not immediately visible!!!! This is the biggest failing on promoters' parts.... also the SIZE OF THE LETTERING ON THE SIGN needs to be 3 inches at the minumum, if you want drivers to stand a chance to READ IT from 10 or more feet away

Radio is good advertising, as well, many stations have the \"what's going on\" that nearly anyone can use for free.... The local tv channel? With the listings of \"whats going on\" and the elevator music playing in the background.... this is all I can think of at the moment.... smile - Danette

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