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December 2014

The Road(Show) Not Taken

Finding gems on the road less traveled

In every field there are the big players which get most of the attention. When it comes to trade shows there are a number of those, but sometimes it is the smaller, regional shows that feature unique, future stars and you might find things that would be overlooked at the larger shows. In this semi-annual Trade Show issue we will take a look at some smaller, specialty shows that you may have overlooked.

The American Made Show in Washington DC features US Artists and Craftspeople Many of the larger shows are creating "Made In America" sections, but there are entire shows devoted to locally made products. In fact there is a show called "American Made Show" (formerly Buyers Market of American Craft) in Washington DC (Jan. 16-19). The show has always been a showcase of American artists and craftspeople.

Another organization with a craft show in the Washington, DC area is Sugarloaf Craft Festivals. Locations include Chantilly, VA (Jan. 30-Feb. 1), Somerset, NJ (Mar. 13-15), Oaks, PA (Mar. 20-22) Gaithersburg (Apr. 17-19) and Timonium, MD (Apr. 24-26).

In the same general area is American Craft Council's Baltimore Wholesale Show (Feb. 20-22). ACC operates several retail shows but has an annual wholesale show in Baltimore. The Council has an emerging artist program called "Hip Pop" designed to provide artists with "a reasonable point of entry to an established marketplace" and "engagement with established makers and a supportive community of fellow emerging artists."

Another promoter focusing on handcrafted products with some imports mixed in is Heritage Markets Cash & Carry Shows. As the name implies, the show emphasizes cash & carry as opposed to ordering. Shows are held throughout the year at Columbus, OH (Jan. Mar., Aug. and Oct.), Springfield, IL (Apr. and Sept.), and Sevierville, TN (May and Sept.).

If beach and resort products are what you are looking for, the Grand Strand Gifts and Resort Merchandise Show is held in early December in Myrtle Beach. Featuring more than 800-plus booths, the event, known among exhibitors and attendees as the "Big Kahuna," remains the longest-running coastal souvenir, resort merchandise and gift show in the nation.

Surf Expo focuses on boarding and beach culture Orlando is the site of Surf Expo, which boasts being "The longest running and largest boardsports and beach/resort lifestyle tradeshow in the world" (Jan. 8-10 and Sept.). The show, operated by Urban Expositions, features about 2,600 booths of apparel and hardgoods.

In addition to resort and tourist merchandise, the Fort Lauderdale Gift Show features general giftware, with more than 500 booths. This regional show, also by Urban Expositions, emphasizes "buy local".

If mountains are more to your liking than beaches you may like the 50-year-young Smoky Mountain Gift Show in Gatlinburg, TN (Nov.). This established show has a wide variety of lines including familiar national brands as well as mountain-themed vendors.

OASIS operates two regional shows in Phoenix (Feb. and Sept.) and Albuquerque (April). As you might expect, these shows feature southwestern gifts, Native American arts and crafts, and gifts with a Western flair. The Phoenix show has been running for 34 years and the Albuquerque show is in its fifth year.

Gem, Mineral, Fossil Shows Offer Unique Products If your store leans toward museum or earth sciences, there are Gem, Mineral & Fossil Shows in Tuscon (Jan. 28-Feb. 15), Denver (Apr. and Sept.), Springfield, MA (Aug.), and Orange County, CA (May and Nov.). In Tuscon, the show runs for an incredible two-and-a-half weeks and features almost 4,000 vendors at multiple shows like the "1820 Oracle Wholesale Show", "African Art Village", AGTA GemFair, American Indian Arts Exposition, and Arizona Mineral & Fossil Show.

On the other end of the spectrum from crafts, beach, minerals and fossils, is high fashion exemplified in the STYLEMAX Show (Jan. 31-Feb. 2) at the Merchandise Mart in Chicago. Boasting more than 100,000 square feet of booth space, STYLEMAX claims to be "the leading women's apparel and accessory trade show". There are four shows per year. At January's edition, new categories of Kids, Activewear and Gift will be featured.

Just like leaving the Interstate Highway to find the good local food, sometimes finding shows off the beaten path may make sense, especially for new and different tastes and culture.

For Complete Show info, see

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