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American Craft Enterprises changed its rules


#1

Hi Marianne,

I’m assuming you’re referring to last week’s ACC/SF show (we had a
mini Orchid Brunch on Sunday, and one active Orchidian–Joan Dulla–
was in the show). If so, I think your questions are very apropos. I
actually have a lot to say about this show, but I don’t know if I
have the ability to be very coherent right now.

In case you haven’t been to the show, it is housed in two separate
buildings, now used to segregate the “non-wearables” people from the
glitz and energy of the “art to wear” part of the show (I think
this segregation #%&s and should be canned). A handful of
"wearable" artists are stuck in the back of the huge building with
the non- wearables, usually because they were wait-listed. Also, I
suspect that not enough non-wearable people are willing to waste
their time on the show anymore–most of my potter friends in the
Bay Area have stopped applying–so it’s the only way to fill up the
space. (I am even more confirmed in this suspicion by the
slowly-increasing amount of kitchy work being juried into this part
of the show.)

The people in the non-wearables building mostly hate those two
miserable wholesale days. The retail days are bad enough for them;
on the wholesale days, as one potter said, you can look down those
huge aisles and not see a single buyer for hours. I think the ACE
should can the wholesale days altogether.

Of the jewelers I asked about how wholesale was for them, the only
one who did really well was Joan, and this was her first time at the
show, so she was a novelty (of course, her work is gorgeous and
inventive, but so was the work of people who said they did poorly).
And Joan will be working her fingers to the bone filling those
orders, since the work she does can’t be done by “helpers.” People
like Tom Mann–who, last time I heard, had 15 people working in his
atelier–can handle a rush of wholesale orders in a way that someone
like Joan can’t. I have no idea what the other non-atelier, non-
production jewelers do–I’m not even sure there were any present.
Biba Schutz said she couldn’t possibly do shows if she didn’t have
help in her studio. Deb Karash may work on her own, but her “one of
a kind” pieces are in series, have low price points, and could in
no way be as labor intensive as yours. And my guess is that some
people may focus on one-offs but also have small production lines
to satisfy the wholesale buyers–what is in their booths may be a
mix.

So… the fact that ACE is moving in the opposite direction of what
most of the artists I talked to think would make sense is, to me, a
sign that they are slipping badly (it wouldn’t be the first time–
remember the move to Springfield?). It also sends a signal that they
are not responsive to the needs of their artists. How anyone gets
them to change their position is beyond me. Maybe there are people
on Orchid who are involved with ACE, or have the ability to become
involved. I’m afraid ACC/SF is likely to become a "gift show,“
featuring wearables made in ateliers and increasingly tacky home
decor. And the retail customer will indeed be faced with a giant
"shop.”

Lisa Orlando
Aphrodite’s Ornaments


#2

I just caught up on this thread, after sending my post, and I’m
confused. I thought American Craft Enterprises was the marketing arm
of the American Crafts Council. It certainly was at one time. Has
this changed?

Lisa Orlando
Aphrodite’s Ornaments


#3

Sorry for the confusion, I wasn’t referring to the organization
behind Evanston, but the American Craft Council (American Craft
Enterprises) show of many years in SF. In answer to one comment,;
ACC actually didn’t “turn a blind eye” to those who didn’t wholesale
in past years. The card of wholesale terms every exhibitor was
required to display had a choice of " no wholesale" printed on it,
unless my memory is worse than I think. The preponderance of
exhibitors did seek wholesale orders during that segment of the
show. Scattered throughout there would be a few artists who , for
one reason or another did not wholesale. It seemed that most
people, buyers, artists, retail public sorted it out well enough.

As for sitting on ones hands during wholesale days…my personal
experience is a little different than that. I spoke with galleries
about participating in shows, doing trunk shows, sold pieces to
gallery owners for their personal collections, sold retail to some
of my customers who had credentials to attend and choose to do so
rather than fight the weekend crowds. so, I did business on those
days, too. Also, as those were the parameters for participation
that show, the only choices to those like me were to 1. do it with
good grace or 2. be a pain in the butt to yourself and everybody
else.

So, that’s the way things used to be, and things are different
now.

back.

In the PRESENT TENSE an alternative does exist: the Contemporary
Craft Market in SF in March. This show is younger and it doesn’t
draw many ( I have no idea if there are) artists from the east
coast. It is a retail show at Fort Mason. The quality of the work
covers a wide range but is good to great. The promoter, Roy Helms
& Assoc. is aggressive in promotion and runs a tight ship. They are
pro artist and do see that their success is directly tied to the
success of the artists and the attendance of the buying public.
Although there are many artists whose work is inexpensive, I still
do well there even though mine isn’t. I attribute that to a number
of factors, not least among them is showing in SF every year since
the late 60’s and a well established and growing mailing list. If
you know artists in any medium who want to show in SF, this is a
good choice.

regards, Marianne Hunter


#4

I want to take the opportunity to respond to an e-mail that was
placed a few days ago from Marianne Hunter concerning the Council’s
San Francisco show. Any show promoter that has show days
specifically designated for wholesale buyers wants exhibitors in that
show to be willing to sell to qualified wholesale buyers at standard
or generally accepted pricing structures. The structure may be
different based on the type of work or that artist’s ability to
discount work. For example, artists may have one discount policy for
production work and another for one-of-a-kind work, or have one
pricing structure for galleries, stores and boutiques and another for
the interior design trade. This does not constitute a new policy for
the American Craft Council and it is not unique to San Francisco. The
Baltimore show has the same requirements for its wholesale
categories. The guidelines are clearly stated in the 2006 show
application.

Our intent is not to exclude artists from shows but to set guidelines
for participation. And, more importantly, the Council does not
"disrespect" artists who choose not to sell their work at wholesale
markets. As all of you know, most of our shows are retail focused.
Artists who do not sell to wholesale accounts take part in our retail
shows. The two wholesale markets that the Council has must meet the
needs of wholesale buyers. That means providing quality work that
buyers can purchase direct from you to resell to their public.

Let me finish by providing important contact for the
American Craft Council (we are not American Craft Enterprises).
Contact is included on all the that we send
to artists and other constituents in print and electronically.
Anyone who has received our application or applied to a show should
have this You can easily find it on the Internet or in
American Craft magazine.

Telephone: 800.836.3470
Website: www.craftcouncil.org
General Council E-mail: council@craftcouncil.org
Shows E-mail: shows@craftcouncil.org

Reed J. McMillan
Director of Shows

American Craft Council


72 Spring St., 6th Floor
New York, NY 10012

800.836.3470, ext. 271
212.274.0630, ext. 271
212.274.0650, fax


#5

Hi Reed,

I appreciate the fact that you responded publicly on Orchid but I
don’t think you have satisfactorily addressed the concerns that some
of us have about this ACC wholesale policy.

Any show promoter that has show days specifically designated for
wholesale buyers wants exhibitors in that show to be willing to
sell to qualified wholesale buyers at standard or generally
accepted pricing structures. The structure may be different based
on the type of work or that artist's ability to discount work. For
example, artists may have one discount policy for... and another
for... or have one pricing structure for.... and another for...

That’s pretty broad! Unless you define “standard or generally
accepted pricing structures,” I would think that almost any artist
could justify his/her price points. And if you do define “standard
or generally accepted pricing structures,” you’re going to end up
excluding a lot of artists I don’t think you want to exclude.

Our intent is not to exclude artists from shows but to set
guidelines for participation. 

Your intent is one thing; the consequences may be quite another. Do
you really have a significant enough percentage of buyers complaining
about the presence of “non-wholesaling” artists to justify preventing
your San Francisco retail customers from seeing the work of an
artist like Marianne Hunter?

The ACC SF show is not the same as the Baltimore show. It doesn’t
have “wholesale only,” “wholesale/retail” and “retail only” days or
areas. But, by your reasoning, there’s no place for an artist of
Marianne’s caliber? That’s pretty hard to accept.

Perhaps this policy needs to be reexamined, at least in this case,
if not in general.

Beth Rosengard


#6

Reed, I’m glad you stepped into the dialogue to give the policy
guidelines for SF, I was hoping someone would. A couple of things in
response…

Sorry about the ACC/ACE confusion…I didn’t know the ACE part had
been dropped and it was back to ACC again.

To the heart of it, the directions on the application form don’t
sound anywhere near as flexible as does your description of the
policy, Reed.

If yours is the accurate state of affairs, then the language needs to
be looked at, at least I think so. After decades of participation, I
threw my application for SF away as the terms seemed to be
purposefully much more rigid than in the past, and applying seemed
pointless. Maybe I was just reading the instructions with a more
literal frame of mind. (Also, was Iwrong about the old “Terms” cards
having a “no wholesale” choice?)

There is a huge and critical difference between SF and Baltimore:
the latter accommodates the relationship of retail artist to retail
buyer…according to SF application instructions, if you don’t care
to sell to stores or galleries, don’t apply.

When I wished to contact ACC to ask about this (after I’d thrown
away the application) I did go to the internet. Although I found
the web site for the organization, I didn’t see a contact location
to reach the office for questions other than joining, schedules or
receiving an application… Guess I didn’t look deep enough, mea
culpa…I knew it had to be there somewhere.

Just out of curiosity, how many wholesale buyers showed up for the
second day of wholesale only? That always seemed to be a huge
disappointment for most exhibitors in the past: spending the second
day of wholesale only in their booths with no one to talk to except
the people in the booth next to them, an occasional “buyer”, stone
dealer or a resourceful retail customer who got in to see the show
when it was virtually empty of competition for the artists attention.
The “second day” of wholesale was always brought up at the meetings
of management/artists. Management and some artists held to the 2 days
because wholesale buyers wouldn’t travel far for only one day to see
the entire show and make their purchases. True. Many artists had a
very difficult time justifying the value to themselves of sitting in
a virtually empty exhibition hall. An impossible task to please
everyone.

marianne hunter
guess I’ve cooked my goose now…well, not until I press send…SEND