Jul 24, 2008

What Are They Thinking??? {edited}

I didn't attend the summer CHA trade show last week. I normally don't attend the summer show. But, man, I wish I had gone! There was big news out of the place and I wish I could have been a fly on the wall to see the reactions of those in attendance.

First of all, the 2009 Summer show will move to Orlando. Okay, fine. No biggie. In fact, it's probably going to help attendance. It will probably encourage MORE Europeans to come since Orlando is a "hot-spot" for vacationers from the UK and Europe. Moving the show isn't a big deal - doesn't bother me a bit.

But, the other news really has my knickers in a knot. CHA will sponsor it's first (and hopefully last) consumer show in the two days following the trade show.

I see scrapbookers jumping up and down in glee since CHA is like Nirvana to some scrapbook consumers. But, I see the rest of us with confused looks on our faces - especially retailers who will bear the brunt of the damage in every scenario here. CHA now supports everyone from manufacturers to consumers. Oh, wait, they JUST support manufacturers and consumers now. Apparently the pesky "middle men" aka "retailers" are just another form of "consumer" for their manufacturers. It's almost as if they are having TWO consumer shows - one for people WITH licenses and one for people without licenses. Retailers have now become the "Rodney Dangerfield" of CHA - no respect... We are just someone else for them to get ticket money from. It proves my point once again that as retailers, CHA just isn't "that into us".

It also serves to further divide a segment of the craft and hobby industry that is struggling by inviting manufacturers to turn into retailers for 2 days - something that is common and already irks most scrap retailers. I'm calling it "Scraploitation" because I can't see knitters and doll makers showing up. But, I see scrapbookers lining up at dawn on the day of the show. CHA is taking advantage of the fact that scrapbookers want to be part of a trade show in a way that other crafters never have.

Here are my basic problems with this idea:

  1. If you're a scrap consumer, don't get your plane tix quite yet. Guess what, folks? All the "new releases" will be tucked back into the truck and all the stuff from the previous shows will be hauled out. You won't get to purchase what retailers just saw at the show. And, if you DO get to buy what was just debuted at the show, then shame on ANY manufacturer who does that to retailers and retailers should cancel their orders immediately. (retailers lose) {edited} - some reports back from the first phone call and conversations with the CEO say that this is NOT a retail show. It's a consumer education show. So, do consumers WANT to just come and do make-and-takes for 2 days? Will manufacturers dangle the new stuff in their faces (which I think is wrong - let the retailers use that to get feet in their door - as the retailers go, so goes the manufacturers - support us!) The goal is to "cross-promote" crafts. Okay, fine. But, I see it being all stampers, scrappers and beaders and they already often cross-craft. Grandmas who love to make plastic canvas tissue covers aren't likely to show up.
  2. Any scrapbook retailer in Florida ought to be spitting nails over this. You might as well close up shop for the month of July... (retailers lose)
  3. Manufacturers will now have to haul not only their trade show booth and paraphernalia to Florida, but now they will have to pack enough product for an extra 2 days of consumer show. That means 2 extra days AT the location as well as extra shipping expense. Many of these people need to get back to business and start shipping orders that were just placed (here's where the retailers lose again). CHA is saying participation isn't mandatory, but, I would imagine that the incentive and pressure to stay will be heavy.{edited} - they are giving away free booths for make and takes if you (the manufacturer) stay. But, they don't expect manufacturers to sell products but to tell consumers WHERE they can buy products. Why would a bunch of Floridians care about a store in Yakima, WA and would I remember the websites when I got home?
There are phone calls happening in the next week or two to soothe over the naysayers. But, honestly, after thinking about this for a couple of days, I can't see how they can spin it to be anything BUT a negative for retailers (and most manufacturers). If they CAN spin it to be a win for everyone, then I'll come back and admit I was wrong. But, I'm not sure I'll have to do that.

If you're interested in participating in the calls (I believe you must be a CHA member to do so), you can get info HERE. If you HATE this idea, it's especially important to be involved in a call. {Edited} - Retailers - this is especially important to YOU! Get on this call! The first call today only had ONE retailer on it. Speak up on this!!

And, if you'd like to be part of an organization working to help retailers in this industry, check THIS membership special for The Professional Scrapbook RETAILERS Organization. $50 gets you a membership good until September 2009. A trade show can only get you so far in running your business. You need support and the Professional Scrapbook RETAILERS Organization offers that. {did you notice the word in GREEN?}

If you're a retailer in this industry - weigh in here in the comments section. Do YOU think this is a good idea that a trade association is getting into the business of consumer shows?


Remember When Creations said...

Kim, thanks for the link to PSRO - I joined & listed you as a referring source. It's time we make a stand. I sent CHA an e-mail about their "great idea". I'm not a member & don't intend to be!


minerva said...

wow. Great site - only just discovered it. I am in Eire and after looking at the latest CHA, companies are pumping products without any originality or creativity. Yes there are some great DT's but they could do the same thing with yesterdays Independent and I'd be impressed. I buy a lot of product but this year have seen the light and apart from some solder and glass for projects I want to make I'm refusing to be sucked in by the hype. As for consumer CHA - bad idea - it just forces independent scrap stores out of the market (imagine how much stuff I could cram in a case on a CHA trip at 50% less than Irish prices)

Julie said...

I am no longer in the retail game, but this would totally set my hair on fire if I were. Heck, it makes me furious even though I'm a consumer now.

Anonymous said...

you jump to some conclusions that make me think you misunderstand the manufacturers/vendors opinion of this event. i know some vendors sell retail, but i'm the sales manager for a fairly well known vendor, and i'm in contact with managers of several other large vendors. i've yet to talk to a single company that thinks this is a good idea. we were quite mad, as were the owners and sales managers of every other company i talked to...oh wait...some were just plain confused.

for my company we're very upset about it. the last thing we want to do is compete with our retailers directly in their market, and more to the point...we don't want to pay for 2 more days, another booth set up and take down, and work 2 more days at a show that is already costing us tens of thousands to attend and promote at with declining retailer traffic. scrapbook vendors sought better representation on the CHA board, but were denied. the rumor i heard was that the only person who you could say represents scrapbooking on the board spoke against the idea, but was outvoted. i hope that's true.

either way, cha negotiated better pricing on the new trade center, pricing that is not being passed on to the vendors, all the while they've added two days to the show as a consumer show, that will make them more money at our expense for a show we don't want to have.

we cant abandon cha as they are still our best outlet for working with our retailers, but several vendors have started discussions on the formation of a scrapbook manufacturer/vendor group to give us a more unified voice in cha and more unified decisions as to the direction we will go with future decisions that affect our industry.

i'd prefer to remain anonymous, but if anyone wants to contact me for more information i have an email account set up at mightymooseboy@yahoo.com

please remember, the vendors are your allies not your enemies, and if a vendor is competing with you in retail you should talk to them about it, express your concerns, or buy from companies like mine who stick to wholesale :)

Anonymous said...

i know that was a long post, but one more quick note. i know they are saying consumer education now, and maybe that was their intent all along, but it was told to us originally as a consumer show. it actually has appeared that this isn't a well thought out event, and they are making decisions as they go. because the consumer show is in a different hall, we asked if we were expected to break down our booth and set up a new one in the other hall, the answer we recieved was they hadn't thought about that, they would get back to us, and attendance is optional (well of course it is). last show i would estimate our company spent at least $35k to attend. why would i want to ad two more days and the cost of it, plus the work, and make no more money, and if i do make any money the retailers get mad.

right now we're not sure we will attend, and we're waiting to see the response from other vendors. once again, an organized vendor group would solve this problem. i appreciate that CHA is presenting it as a way to generate interest in scrapbooking, but i'm not sure it's the best way, and people seem to be giving little thought to who will be footing the bill.

Kim said...

That's my problem with it - it's like no one thought it through. The details are slowly emerging as CHA figures them out. It was strange for such a large trade organization to present something to their membership that hadn't been carefully planned and thought through.

I am sure manufacturers are not excited by this. The trade show is grueling enough.

I'm wondering if they are going to be giving a party that on one comes to - except consumers.