By Sarah Moore

It occurred to us here at Craft Critique that many of you might be wondering what all this “CHA” hubbub is about. “CHA” this, “CHA” that… why are all your favorite bloggers, designers and retailers going to Orlando? What will they do there (besides sweat)?

No, we aren’t talking about the Chicago Housing Authority, the Certified Horsemanship Association, California Hospital Association, Catholic Health Association or the Commission on Hispanic Affairs (all real, google it). If you want to become a Certified Hotel Administrator, we can not help you. If you want to learn the Cha-Cha we are probably not your best source. But if the Craft and Hobby Association sounds like a club that would have you as a member, then please continue reading.

If you want to know the full history of the actual Association, why they were formed, when and by whom, then READ THIS. You can also poke around the CHA website for deets on what the Member benefits are, and how to become a member if you want to. Manufacturers, publishers, wholesale distributors, service providers, retail stores, buyers, professional crafters, designers, and educators can all qualify for membership.

But basically, when you hear most people referring to “CHA” we are talking about an event. The largest trade show for the crafting and hobby industry. It’s like you died and went to craft heaven.

Every year there are two shows: Winter CHA and Summer CHA. In the past the Summer show, usually in July, has been held in Chicago (where it was nice and breezy). This year they moved it to Orlando, FL (where it is 100 degrees and humid). The Winter show is usually held in January/February in Anaheim, California. Both towns are owned by Mickey Mouse… just a magical coincidence I’m sure.

The winter show is huge, typically about 600-800 exhibitors. The summer show is smaller, by about half. Both shows are attended by retailers who are placing orders for product at the show, other CHA members and press. The exhibitors are from all areas of craft. Scrapbooking makes up more than half of the exhibits, but all areas of craft are represented: from yarn to polymer clay.

Craft Critique attends so we can review the newest products and show them to you. We also attend to solidify all our crafty relationships, get inspired, network and entrench ourselves in the industry. Our readers have come to depend on our bi-yearly, multiple genre coverage of these events.

Why do others attend? Most are there to actually order product. The sooner you order the products, the sooner you have them in your store for your customers to purchase. When it comes to the most popular scrapbooking lines, Basic Grey and American Crafts for example, they actually send the product out according to order number. Some retailers are so serious about being the first to place their orders they will actually RUN to those booths when the doors open on Tuesday morning. We call it the “Running of the Crafters.” See this video for proof.

Other people in attendance include artists and designers, educators, and press. Crafting classes are offered throughout the conference. Most of the instructors and designers are also working at or attending the show. There is a wonderful Designer’s Showcase available to view. Designer CHA members pay a small fee to display samples of their creative work to potential business partners.

The classes and lectures offered are top notch. Favorite classes include those taught by famed rubber stamper Tim Holtz, mixed media artist Claudine Hellmuth, and funky scrapbook designer Marah Johnson. One of the panel discussions I know I won’t want to miss this year features Crafty Chica Kathy Cano-Murillo, One-Stroke painter Donna Dewberry, Knitty Gritty’s own Vickie Howell, craft queen Terri O. and the one and ONLY Carol Duvall! And most exciting of all, this year’s Keynote address is by Etsy CEO Maria Thomas.

The main purpose at the trade show is for exhibitors to collect orders for their latest lines of product face to face with retailers. No cash and carry purchasing occurs at the event, but most exhibitors offer samples of product, demonstrations, or make-and-takes.

The trend has also been to debut new products and designer lines at the event. In the weeks leading to the show the vendors show sneak peeks on their websites, and honestly very few products haven’t been at least hinted at by the time the doors open at the show.

It’s mainly Scrapbooking and Rubber Stamping manufacturers that show sneak peeks. For a nicely organized list of this year’s sneaks visit our friend Nancy Nally at The Scrapbook Update.

Adding to this year’s festivities is a new event, the CHA Craft Supershow. Whereas CHA is a trade show, the Craft Supershow is just for consumers. So finally, anyone can get a taste of CHA madness!

About 100 vendors will exhibit at the Supershow. The event will feature goody bags, raffles, Celebrity Crafters, make-and-takes, product samples, workshops, contests, crops and shopping.

One of the events I am most looking forward to is Marisa Pawelko’s brainchild “America’s Next Top Crafter.” It’s such a great idea, and knowing Marisa, it will be a blast.

Illustrator Mary Engelbreit will also be speaking and signing books at the event. That reminds me… I have to pack some of my vintage ME paper-dolls!

So that’s it in a nutshell. But feel free to ask us any questions you might have related to the event.

Remember, we will be reporting all week from the floor and we want to report on those companies, designers and products you have a specific interest in. Please be sure to let us know what and who you want us to check out for you!

Come back tomorrow to read about some of the unique ways we will be reporting from the CHA floor, and how you can stay on top of all the madness!

Edited to Add: don’t forget your CHA Craft Supersow Discount Coupons! HERE.

Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!

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13 Responses to Everything-you-ever-wanted-to-know-about-CHA-but-were-afraid-to-ask

  1. Avatar
    GabrielaD July 24, 2009 at 8:28 am #

    100 vendors? that doesn’t seem like that many. Do you think there will be enough to do in 2 days. I am going with my husband (from Toronto, Ontario) and I am worried. At first (when I first booked the trip), I thought there would be more vendors/companies. Recently it has come out that many companies will not be at CHA this year and many more won’t be staying for the Consumer Show. What do you think, will it still be worth it??

  2. Avatar
    Sarah Moore July 24, 2009 at 10:04 am #


    Are you ONLY attending the Supershow? Or both shows? I don’t really know if the supershow will be worth it… I mean, we’ve never been… But if you were going just for the Supershow… it’s only $10… $5 with a discount coupon. I think it sounds fun. I suppose it’s about how many events you plan to attend.

    Just try to attend as much as you can, go to the crop, maybe do a few things in Orlando too!

    oh, and that 100 # was from the website estimated figure. I will call and get the exact # for you.

  3. Avatar
    Laura July 24, 2009 at 11:16 am #

    How do you get into this show? I would love to attend the Winter one- its right up the street!! 🙂

    I would like to be a vendor!


  4. Avatar
    Sarah Moore July 24, 2009 at 11:19 am #


    I spoke to the show coordinators and they confirmed the 100 number. I hope that helps!


    If you visit the CHA website: you should be able to find all the information you need about becoming a member or a vendor.

  5. Avatar
    lisa July 24, 2009 at 11:23 am #

    great article Sarah – I have so many NCP’s* who think I’m crazy with all this talk of CHA!

    (non-crafty pals)

  6. Avatar
    Jenn July 24, 2009 at 11:24 am #

    I really wish I was going! Thanks for the write up

  7. Avatar
    GabrielaD July 24, 2009 at 11:42 am #

    Thanks for responding…. I am going to the Supershow only. I have my tickets already and am really looking forward to it. I just hope that it is as good as my heart hopes. I am sure I am just worried for nothing.

  8. Avatar
    Sarah Moore July 24, 2009 at 11:51 am #


    I really think you will have fun. I happen to know that a lot of companies are doing some great giveaways too.

    Be sure to get your discount coupons!

  9. Avatar
    Pat Huntoon July 24, 2009 at 12:40 pm #

    Stop by and see me — I am the main Guest Designer in the Copic Booth for CHA (not the consumer show). Stop by and say hi!
    Pat Huntoon
    Technique Junkie Newsletter

  10. Avatar
    Jen July 24, 2009 at 4:57 pm #

    I’d love to see some Hambly Screen Prints and Cosmo Cricket. The Cosmo sneak peeks have been my favourite so far, so I’d love to know what you make of it.

  11. Avatar
    Katie Renz July 24, 2009 at 8:43 pm #

    Great article Sarah.

  12. Avatar
    Marion July 24, 2009 at 9:27 pm #

    Thanks for the information. I was going to go to shop and now I see the average person can’t shop.

  13. Avatar
    Starry Nites Farm July 28, 2009 at 1:40 pm #

    I’ve never attended a CHA show, but am looking forward to attending the Supershow! Sounds like fun!