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.