ACC Show Baltimore 2007

Dear Orchidians,

I am just back from the ACC show in Baltimore and I have to say that
the show was a TOTAL dud. I have been doing it for years and it seems
like this year and last was just a scam to get artists in and not
traffic. I feel like they event organizers are just corrupt and some
of the people who were juried in did not deserve to be there. I think
it is shameful that they tout the craft council like this big deal
and then they allow folks in who are manufacturing overseas as well
as people who clearly don’t do metalsmithing but got in because they
knew someone. On top of that - they allowed gem dealers in the show.
It made me very annoyed. Did anyone else have this experience?

I would love to know what others who were there thought.



The market place is constantly changing and the retailers,
wholesalers, artists, craftspeople, and even those you deem unworthy
to be in it have to change as well. If you get into a show, whichever
one it is, it can’t be the other exhibitors’ fault if you don’t make
your sales. If what you are doing is not working for you, examine it
and change it.

Maybe these big shows are not the grand sales venues they once were.
There are other outlets to explore.

Kim Starbard

I did not do the ACC show but I heard from friends who did and they
had the same comments and experience. I make my living by doing shows
and this seems to be the case for all shows, from tiny town craft
fairs to the big ones. I just had my taxes done last night and it was
not a pretty picture. The economy in Ohio and Michigan is terrible
but when I hear complaints about shows in Baltimore and Philly,
travel seems like a waste of time too. For me it’s not that the shows
are poorly attended - but the only jewelry booths that are packed are
"bought strung beaded jewelry" where the price tag is something like
2 pairs of earrings for $15.00. I have a really nice, unique low end,
mostly metal without soldering or beads that I make, that starts at
about $45, for not very complex, but none-the-less unusual pieces,
that I can’t sell any lower and I still can’t compete. On the other
hand, in Ohio, we had a new show, holiday time, where the organizer
tried his hardest to have only good quality, medium to high end work
and it was very poorly attended - customers complained that there
were no bargains - that the work was great but way too expensive.
It’s so frustrating to spend so much time trying to be creative and
hone your skills for so much disappointment. I’m finding more and
more people, coming into my booth, looking at everything and then
going home and trying to figure out how to make a similar piece. Even
worse, at my last show I actually had a person say “I could make that
earring, but could you tell me where you get the wire?” I was
speechless! Is anyone out there, making predominantly metal jewelry,
selling gangbusters?.. If this trend keeps up I might have to go
back to one of those “Former Lives” very soon.

Trying to stay hopeful,


I was there helping out a friend in her boot, also a jewelry

The traffic was definitely down according to many of the artists I
spoke with and Sunday’s snow certainly did not help.

A number of customers also complained about lack of parking and also
promotion. One gentlemen said that if he had not gotten a notice in
the mail from an artist he had done business with in the past that
he would not have known about it. I suggested he write a letter
regarding promotion and the parking issue. Perhaps the show
management will listen to the actual customers instead of the

The woman I helped said her business was way down from last yesr and
a few other artists I spoke with had the same opinion. But, I also
spoke with another friend of mine who does just amazingly creative
jewelry, VERY expensive, one of a kind stuff and she said this was
her best show in Baltimore ever.

Basically I think if your product is very expensive there is still a
clientele for that market, if your product is middle line like most,
you are competing with so many more people for that same dollar.

I did not see any jewelry that was made overseas.

The stone dealers are just trying to see there customers and make a
living. They are not there to bother anyone who does not want to buy
from them.



I haven’t done the ACC shows in quite awhile, but have many friends
who still do them, including Baltimore. The word out is that ACC will
discontinue wholesale at Baltimore and make the entire show retail.
Is this something anyone out there on Orchid is aware of?


Dear all - thanks for the great response. It was great to hear others
experiences and share. As far as my own - I was not and am not upset
by my sales. I did very well. I am upset because the show was very
poorly promoted and I think that the jurying system is messed up. The
gem dealers may want to be there and are nice folks - but that was
the American Craft Council. Those stones with the exception of one
man are mined in other countries and cut in other countries. I don’t
think it is right to make other worthy artists struggle and not get
in and then let them walk in the front door.

I also take issue with what seems like an aparthied like system
between the wholesale and retail people. I spoke with over 40 people
in all different disciplines and they all said they had been jerked
around and let into retail on and off while others skate through
retail over and over. Who do they know?


I well recognize the changing face of the market and the changes
jewelry has gone through in particular - after all, it is a part of
the fashion industry. And, furthermore, I have no objection to beaded
jewelry as a medium, much of it is very lovely. However, a certain
percentage of the work is neither creative nor handcrafted and when
that type of work is in the same show I think it can definitely
effects sales and also effect the look and reputation of the show. I
simply want the show promoters to more closely police what is being
sold and juried so that it complies with what is in the prospectus
for the show. And yes, I agree, that each of us has to examine our
work when it is not selling and be truthful with ourselves as to the
reason. I live up to my part of the bargain when I sign the dotted
line to do a show and I just want the show promoters to do the same.


Thanks Laurie -

I just don’t know anymore. It seems like there are problems. I don’t
agree about the stone dealers though. I know they are not there to
bother anyone but that isn’t the point. The point is that this was
and is about American Craft.


Hi Grace

However, a certain percentage of the work is neither creative nor
handcrafted and when that type of work is in the same show I think
it can definitely effects sales and also effect the look and
reputation of the show. 

I know my post yesterday came off sounding really, really defensive.
I know you don’t have a problem with beaded jewelry. I think I have a
problem with beaded jewelry. I agree with you and I am also
extremely frustrated, but I think my point is, what can
artists/exhibitors do that will actually affect change? Talking about
it here is not really going to do anything. It’s possible someone
from the ACC show may be watching, but I doubt anyone from any of the
local shows you are in are going to find out.

I don’t know what your jewelry looks like, so it’s hard to say
anything helpful. I tried to look up some of the Art Fairs and Craft
Shows in your area, but there are a ton. You probably know all the
advice anyone could give already anyway…things like visit the show
if you can to find out what it’s like before you apply, talk to other
previous exhibitors to find if they had a good/bad experience, look
at what you have to offer and compare it to what people are buying
nowadays. We’ve all heard this stuff before and I empathize. You feel
like you’re doing everything you can and then tax time comes and it’s
not all it’s cracked up to be.

I have been applying to this really big, really profitable (if you
can get in) show in New York state for (I think) 4 years. I try
everything I can. I make my jewelry look as interesting as I can. I
show things to the jury that I know sell well. I have beautiful
slides. I have a nice booth. I am always waitlisted. I go to the show
and everything I think I am doing right is wrong. There are
exhibitors who have mass produced components in their jewelry (stuff
right out of Rio and my jewelry does too, but if they can do it, why
can’t I?), there are strung things all over the place (they don’t
cost the customer 15 but probably 1500 dollars) and the things I see
(sorry) lack any kind of individuality or creativity. What do I do?
Well, I continue to apply. I continue to try every strategy I can. I
actually call the organizer/juror of the show and ask her what I can
do. That’s all I can do. It’s frustrating but, it is what it is. I
choose to still try and you better believe that I will not give up
until I reach my objective. I am #6 on the waitlist for a show on
May25. If the phone rings, I will be ready. I am determined.

I actually do know of someone who does (and I don’t think should be
allowed to) do the ACC Baltimore show, but what can I say? It says
right on the website “the highest quality handmade craft available in
America”. Buying a clasp, beadalon, and a bunch of beads and
stringing them together does not meet that criteria.

My husband says “they have to have that in the show, people buy it
and the promoters want the show to be successful” I know I’m starting
to ramble now. Some things in life just aren’t fair, but you do what
you can do. That’s all anyone can do.

I wish you the best of luck in everything and wish there was
something I could do to help…maybe I’ll organize my own show
sometime and give these people a real run for their money. You never

KimKim Starbard

Is it not true that when you send in your application along with
your slides you can specify if you are applying for wholesale only,
retail only or both? There are of course only a certain number of
spaces available for all slots, a lot of people get wait listed but
a lot of people get in because others declined.

Most friends of mine want to do both wholesale and retail days. They
first do the Rosen show which is wholesale of course, then travel to
Baltimore do that wholesale show and hey why not make the retail
money and sell directly to customers to try and unload
inventory…then there are a few I know who only do retail and want
no part of the wholesale business.

It is definitely a crap shoot who gets in and why. I have known
artists who have done the show for 15 years and all of a sudden
their work is not good enough?

I have talked with numerous buyers at the Rosen show and most agree
that they like that show better. They know that their artists are
going to be there year after year and in the same spot none of this
year to year based on a jurying process that seems to be fixed most
of the time.

Oh well, just my observations.


Hi, I am a new member and this is my first post. Thank you all for
your wonderful insight and for keeping me entertained and laughing
while I’m at work in the studio!

Yes, there is a rumor that the wholesale only section may get the
axe. I was in that section this year, and no one was very happy
about it. I did not do the show last year, but apparently, what
should have been the entrance to the show, (and was last year) a
door leading directly into the wholesale only section, was closed
off. This made the section very very inaccessible to the buyers. But
then again, there were not many buyers there in the first place…I
guess I could complain, but that is not going to get me anywhere.
Then there is the rumor that some people in the wholesale/retail
section don’t even do wholesale, they just don’t fill those orders,
and are there only for the retail but couldn’t get in otherwise.

As for jewelry that doesn’t meet the so called ACC standards, well,
there was some, why, I’m not quite sure. There was even an exhibitor
there who told me straight up she did not make anything, that she
had it manufactured (I have no idea where and I just don’t care).
That is upsetting. Really makes me mad.

All in all, everything upsetting aside, the real question you have
to ask yourself is, “Will I do it again next year”. I know I will.
So, I really hope they don’t get rid of wholesale only.


Well we all know how competitive this field is and it has become even
more so with the advent of what I call “cold work” - work that does
not require soldering skills - because if nothing else, it has
greatly multiplied the number of people capable of making and
selling jewelry. I am aware of many people who are now selling out of
their homes or having house shows as opposed to the fairs and
customers are flocking to them. And of course, politics does rear its
ugly head - we all know this too. And, I don’t know what the answer
is except to keep voicing your opinions, especially during and after
shows - tell the directors what your objections are - some will
liston, some won’t – I think it’s even worth voicing your opinion on
shows you just attend - as a customer your voice is clearly worth
noting. I know I don’t have time to attend most shows in advance. In
order to maintain a living I spend virtually 7 days a week working
and there’s not much time for anything else. I would like to boycott
shows that don’t live up to their word, but what are the
alternatives? I don’t wish to sound totally negative either, because
quite honestly my sales have been better than many people I talk to,
but it’s a constant push to keep reinventing myself and think about
what people will wear as opposed to just what I like to make. I guess
I want to speak for those artists who want to be true to what they do
and can no longer find a viable selling outlet for it.