39th Annual Morristown CraftMarket - Observations

I exhibited at this show back in 1982.  It was a very good show for attendance and sales at that time.  I returned this year as part of my encore career in furniture making.  I am trying to do each show I did back in the day, one more time, sort of a farewell tour.

After I had committed to do the show I decided to see what I might have committed to.  Kind of backward but I was going to do the show no matter what I found.  I polled 10 exhibitors from the 2014 artist list and received 10 responses, eight of which said they would not return to this show.  I got the feeling that perhaps things had changed over the years.  I then googled the show and got hits on PR statements from the show or those repeated by other sites but nothing else about the show.  So much for a warm fuzzy feeling.

I have to applaud the volunteer staff for their work at the show.  They were always willing to get an answer to a question.  They seemed very dedicated to making a perfect show.

This show is not for artists who want to exhibit in an environment of abundant interest in fine craft and support of fine craft by way of purchasing it.  In spite of the presence of some mighty fine work attendance was sparse on all three days.  This exhibitor observed a distinct lack of bags being carried around which signals poor sales.  Perhaps the shows description in its 2014 registration for the trademark “CRAFTMARKET” sums up the current direction of this show: “Organizing exhibitions for and conducting exhibitions for the promotion, display and sale of homemade crafts”.  IMHO, homemade crafts is a far shot from professional fine craft.

Maybe attendees of previous years didn’t return this year because they noticed booths that cheapened the show such as insurance selling and obviously mass-produced work.  The premise of a show like this is that the work in the booth was made by the person in the booth.  It is supposed to give the show visitor an opportunity to talk with the artist/maker.  Who wants to talk to a rep?

I arrived about 20 minutes before load-in was scheduled to start.  When the doors opened I went in to get my show packet.  It was announced that vehicles would be brought in relative to booth location, from the rear of the show to the front of the show so unloading would be more orderly.  By the time I got back to my vehicle this decision was forgotten and vehicles were brought in and directed to their booths no matter where the booth was.  I was near the front of the line and was immediately guided to my booth near the entry doors.  Despite this change of direction vehicle movement and unloading proceeded smoothly.   Then a sprinter was brought in, in spite of two different written mailings banning vehicles over 7 feet tall from entering the building.  This guy then proceeded to unload and set up his booth before moving his oversized vehicle out of the building.   The rule is to unload the vehicle, move it out and then setup.

My personal pet peeves.  There were no published instructions concerning where to drive into the building and where to dolly in from.  The artist list was not made available until less than two weeks before the show opened.   The Zapp site mentioned awards would be presented but nothing was mentioned about awards in the show brochure or any other show paperwork.  Apparently two awards were given as they were posted on Facebook 2 hours after the show ended on Sunday at 5:00PM.  No chance there for a congratulatory visit at the winner's booth.

As mentioned earlier, attendance was very poor.  Without strong attendance there is no possibility of selling.  Most artists/makers will agree that setting up for a show is done in anticipation of selling their work.

The Saturday breakfast for the artists was a nice touch.  But one had to arrive when it opened if one wanted to have the best selection of food and to sit while eating that food. 

Most serious craft shows have storage areas for artist’s packing materials during the show.  The Morristown CraftMarket does not have such areas.  I lucked out when a volunteer found a small space, behind the drape, for my cart stacked high with my furniture blankets. 

This show provides all the pipe and drape for each booth.  That would be a great thing if it wasn’t an ugly gray color with lots of black dirty areas.

Teardown went smoothly as far as I could see.  I take several hours to get all my furniture blanket wrapped for the journey home so by the time I bring in my vehicle most other exhibitors are long gone.  I had no problem loading from right next to my booth.


Wow! Sorry to hear that.

Wow! Sorry to hear that. Unfortunately, the reason we didn't return was because the attendance last year was poor & it's too much work and too much money for poor attendance. I staff, however is so nice & very accommodating. Wish the show hadn't deteriorated so much.

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