Buyers at the January 2020 show admire sculpture from exhibitor Drawn Metal Studios.
Emerald Exhibitions announced last week that it was permanently canceling the fine craft trade show American Handcrafted. In a statement, the company said, “Given the specialized, niche nature of this market, it has become evident that staging American Handcrafted as a stand-alone event is not economically feasible.”
Exhibitors who had already booked booths for the February 2024 show which was to be held at the Pennsylvania Convention Center are being encouraged to exhibit at another of Emerald’s trade shows including NY NOW, IGES, Surf Expo, or ASD Market Week. Alternatively, exhibitors can request a refund for their booth fees.
History of American Handcrafted
American Handcrafted was launched in 2006 as American Craft Retailers Expo (ACRE), by Nancy Vince, owner of WholesaleCrafts, an online marketplace for fine craft. The show took place twice a year: a summertime event in Las Vegas and a winter one in Philadelphia. WholesaleCrafts later rebranded as IndieMe and, in 2016, Vince sold the show to Emerald Expositions, a publicly traded company that owns over 100 trade shows and conferences in various industries.
In the spring of 2017, exhibitors were reporting that the Las Vegas show was declining, attracting too few retail buyers to make it worthwhile for exhibitors.
Ceramicist and textile artist Nancy Salamon exhibited at American Handcrafted in 2018, 2019, and 2021. Although the 2021 show was smaller than past shows, “the buyers who did come were very enthusiastic and ready to buy. I had a great show.” She did the show again in 2023 and said it was bigger and felt to her to be well-attended. “I hope the cancellation of this show is not a harbinger of the end of an era,” says Salamon.
IndieMe’s current owner and president, Jackie Adamany says of the closer of the show, “It truly is bittersweet to hear the American Handcrafted show was canceled. Having been an artist at the show years ago, managing and producing it when we owned the ACRE show, and now as owner of IndieMe, I understand the sadness. It’s the end of an era, the loss of a friend. It certainly will leave a void in the handcrafted industry but we are a resilient group and we will rebound.”
“Is the traditional trade show model becoming obsolete?” asks Adamany. “I don’t think so, but it is evolving, and I am excited to look for ways to bring innovative solutions to our industry.”
Abby co-founded Craft Industry Alliance and now serves as its president. She’s a sewing pattern designer, teacher, and journalist. She’s dedicated to creating an outstanding trade association for the crafts industry. Abby lives in Wellesley, Massachusetts.