I’m back from the gift fair, and after taking most of the weekend off, I’m slowly easing back into things. I’ve got two posts planned recapping the New York International Gift Fair. The first post is going to be more a general post about the show to give those of you thinking about doing it in the future a little more information. Then there will be another post later in the week about my own experience at the show.
Let me just start by saying that New York Gift is huge! There are over 2000 vendors at the show, which takes up the Javits Center and two piers. The companies exhibiting at the show range from one-person operations making everything by hand, to large, multinational companies mass-producing overseas, to rep groups featuring several lines. And the size of the booths range from small (mine was 6′ by 10′) to bigger than my house! (Ok, maybe not quite that big, but close.)
Before you get too overwhelmed thinking about the size of the show, know that it is actually broken into some distinct sections. Some of these sections are better geared towards independent makers than others, so I thought I’d do a quick run down of ones you might be interested in. The largest section of the show is General Gift, but I would avoid this at all costs. Its too easy to get lost in a sea of mass-produced items.
For most independent makers, Handmade is the section they gravitate towards. It is the section that I first started in, and I would recommend it for most of the people reading this blog. If you have any experience with shows like the Buyers Market of American Craft, or the American Craft Council show, you will feel comfortable in Handmade. However, booth location is really critical in Handmade. Some areas see a lot more traffic than others, and it can really make or break your show. Starting at the August 2010 show, Handmade is going to be split into two categories, “designer made” and “globally sourced.” I think this distinction, and a new location in the Javits, makes Handmade a viable choice for most indie makers.
If you make accessories like bags or jewelry, I would also check out Details, which is a small section in Personal Accessories. While most of PA is more mass-produced, cheaper items, Details is a juried selection of jewelry, bags, and other accessories. Its worth a look if you make products that fall into one of those categories.
Two more section to check out are Studio and Accent on Design, both of which are juried sections on the main level. Their location on the main level, and Accent’s reputation for cutting-edge design mean that both sections see a lot of traffic, particularly press. Studio has a slightly more welcoming feel than Accent, which is dominated by large companies like Jonathan Adler, Alessi, and Artecnica. (Though you will find smaller companies and designers in Accent – its where my booth is located!) Most of the products in Studio feel like they could work in Anthropologie, so if that’s your dream retailer, Studio is worth checking out.
Overall, the mood at the gift fair seemed better than either show in 2009. Traffic seemed to be up, and buyers seemed more inclined to write orders. Particularly if you are on the East Coast, I highly recommend that you look into doing New York Gift. Its one show that does seem to be bringing in both buyers and press, if for no other reason than the sheer volume of stuff there. New York Gift happens twice a year, so there’s still plenty of time to plan on visiting or participating in the August show.