irreverent, thought-provoking analysis of the industry.
Evaluations of the CHA Show
Mostly positive, but....
By CLN Subscribers (February 20, 2006)
We had a GREAT CHA show. Excellent traffic, lot of orders, good
contacts. It was very good for Spanish Memories, even though we were
at an outer corner. – Omayra Ortiz, Spanish Memories
Not so great.
I have just read your newsletter, and as expected, what I read
directly conflicts with my own experiences. While I have no doubt
that many were happy, I was indeed not. I felt that the layout of
the show was very poorly configured so that those of us in the art
supply section had almost no traffic while the rest of the show had
plenty, with the scrapbooking section getting most of it.
Apart from the first hour of the first day when all the people
waiting in the registration area flooded into our section on the way
to the general crafts section, we had very light traffic, to say the
least. Anyone going from the scrapbooking to the general crafts
sections or vice versa could simply by-pass our section, so any hope
of any passing traffic was lost.
Only people interested in the art supply part of the show
appeared to come by. The whole purpose of going to a trade show is
to find new people, but when people don't happen by, the likelihood
of that happening is very poor.
It is my view that the segmentation of the show, while convenient
for buyers, is not good for the exhibitors, who, by the way pay for
the privilege of being there. Any hope of much passing traffic as
people move from one booth to another around the show is lost.
Additionally, I felt that the scrapbooking section's lighting and
decor was so much brighter and more attractive; it was like walking
into another world. Not only that, since it has become obvious that
scrapbooking is where it is happening, many people who have little
justification for being in the scrapbooking section are going there
just to get the traffic.
I thought a negative opinion of the show might be valid for you.
I would be interested to know if others in the art supply section
would agree with me. – Name Withheld (Art Materials
For Martin Universal Design and Martin/F.Weber this was the best
show in 20 years, Not just the best CHA [HIA], THE BEST TRADE SHOW
IN 20 YEARS. We are looking forward to NAMTA. My feeling is that the
economy is cooking so buyers were there to find the new and
exciting, and we must have had some. – Dennis R. Kapp,
Martin Universal Design, Martin/F.Weber Co.
Tried and true.
We felt the show was good. Our take: while the rate of growth for
scrapbooking and knitting are slowing slightly, retailers seemed to
be returning to the "tried and true" general crafts. In
addition, some of the more successful "scrapbook only"
stores seemed to be adding some basic crafts to their mix, realizing
that, in the long term, they won’t prosper on scrapbooking alone.
Also, the industry is like a balloon. You squeeze it on one end
and it bulges on the other. A good sign that we have plenty of
consumers out there, but that we’ve done a less than great job of
inspiring and educating them. That spells Opportunity. – Jim
Many of us buyers were in agreement that having the "new
vendor" sections incorporated into each category section would
have been much more convenient. For example, new scrapbooking
vendors in the scrapbooking section, new craft vendors in the craft
Other than that, I think it was a great show and it was nice to
see that some of the larger vendors have "reigned in" the
number of new items being introduced. – Cindy VanGilder,
The view from Australia.
From our perspective as an international exhibitor, CHA Las Vegas
was much the same as Atlanta results wise, although no one had the
big walk between halls which I'm sure was a disadvantage to some of
the exhibitors at the Atlanta show.
We had good response to our products; admittedly we only promote
the scrapbooking lines at this show, but the booth make-it/take-its
and workshop were well attended. Ask me again in a few weeks and
I'll give you idea at how successful we were in closing those leads.
As far as floor traffic goes, the trend did appear different than
last year with a general slowing on the last day. I feel this had
more to do with the show starting on Monday rather than a Sunday
than anything else.
We'll be exhibiting at CHA Summer; this is where we can see
improvement needs to be made, which I'm sure CHA staff is more than
capable of doing. – Mark Ripper, Helmar Australia Pty Ltd.
A shot in the arm.
The CHA show went very well for my clients and myself. In fact ,
my one client that was in the New Exhibitor section had me scheduled
to make an appearance at 9:00 am on Monday and rescheduled me for
10:00 am thinking that there would be no traffic. (This due to the
fact that during the October Vegas show there were no warm bodies in
the New Exhibitor section for the first hour.)
Thank goodness I was on the floor because my client called right
at 9:04 a.m. and asked me to come on over the buyers were waiting in
The energy was night and day compared to the October show. You
could feel it in the air. People seemed to be much more positive and
excited to be there. All of my stores were in attendance and
My clients all had a great show and reported that new business
opportunities were in abundance.
I did attend three classes: "Effective Marketing Strategies
for the Art Licensing Business." This class was EXCELLENT! I
returned with so much information. In fact, one of the students said
to me, "You're in this class? I would of thought that you knew
everything". This was not the case; I really learned a lot and
was able to use the info immediately in my business.
"Creating the Right Strategy for Successful Internet
Selling." OUCH! I was so excited to take this class, only to be
so disappointed. The class was obviously over sold. People were
sitting on the floor and when the chairs finally did arrive, the
workers were so noisy it disrupted the class.
Unfortunately you could not hear or understand the speaker. What
motivated me to take this class was the description. It included the
top eight mistakes which I thought would be a mind-blowing, "Ah
Ha" moment, but it was not. I did the unthinkable and left the
class early. I have never done this and felt really bad, but I could
not hear, understand, or even see what was going on, so I along with
many others left the class early. I would love to know if it did get
"A Picture is Worth a Thousand Revenue Opportunities."
Well this is where I learned that you cannot do it all. I had no
idea how difficult it would be to work, walk, meet, maybe eat lunch,
shake hands, give multiple hugs, etc., etc. – and take classes.
Needless to say I did not make this one. I don't know how the stores
I had the privilege of being with the Aleene's family at the CHA
Theater event. We had a ton of fun! Aleene was in great spirits and
funnier than ever! In addition, I was honored to present Aleene with
the Outstanding Individual award given by Scrapbook
Retailer magazine during the Imagination Celebration. I
talked about relationships in this industry and how important they
are. Aleene was and still is a master at this.
LuminArte's Twinkling H20's, Primary Elements and Radiant
Pearls by far rocked the house! Their product line is
unbelievable! They inspire me so much, all I want to do is play with
their paints all day long. (They are not a client just a company
that is truly delicious.)
Overall, the CHA show was the shot in the arm that I personally
needed. I love this industry so much and was quite concerned after
the last show as to where it was going. I do believe that there will
be much change, but I know that we will all survive in one way or
the other. – Julianna Hudgins, Julianna Productions
Fantastic sales, but ...
We were so swamped I never got to walk around myself! So, with
that as a tip-off: our CHA sales experience was fantastic! We were
very pleased with the turnout and only wished we had thought we
would be as busy as we were. (We had to have more catalogs FedEx’d
in twice!) All our new products were well received and everyone
loved the new, updated Therm O Web booth. I wish there was a
"preview" for manufacturers or something; I didn’t get
to walk around, so I don’t know what new fun things are out there.
However, while our sales and leads were good, we did note that
several things were either misrepresented or misprinted. There was
little information about the Innovation awards (when
presented, how awarded, who votes, who won, etc.) and our second
company was not listed even though we paid extra for the additional
listing. (They put Therm O Web down twice, instead of Therm O Web
and MiMi.) Also, the Scrapbook Answers Crop was given the wrong
location and time on the tickets. And the Scrapbook Retailer
Imagination Celebration was pretty much non-existent in terms of
exposure or recognition.
I still believe there are too many scrapbooking trade shows. This
was our second time in Vegas in only three months! So, while we did
well in sales, when you add in hotel expenses, flights, meals,
freight, adverting, product handouts and donations, and booth space,
we probably broke even. It’s just a shame that there is one big
show and two mediocre shows. It’s a tremendous expense for the
manufacturers, sales reps, and store owners! – Candace
Harrington, Therm O Web
An electrical ripoff.
I and other exhibitors were surprised to see an extra fee of $165
added to our GES bill for "BOOTH INSPECTION, EXHIBITOR
PERFORMED TSE ELECTRICAL WORK"
When I questioned the fee at the service desk, I was told that we
were only allowed to plug in four small clip-on lights per booth as
stated on page G-6 in the manual. As I had plugged in more than four
lights in my 20x20 booth, I was charged the fee, which was
thankfully cut in half after complaining.
I was told that no matter what size booth space was contracted,
each was assigned one booth number so no matter if you had a 10x10
or 40x40, it was considered 1 booth.
In all my years of doing trade shows, I don't recall a union
rip-off like this! Judy Swetish, Candamar Designs
An opinion without attending.
Unfortunately I could not attend this year’s show. Many people
called me and gave me their opinions, which were just about what I
figured they would be.
As usual scrapbooking was again the number one draw of companies,
retailers, designers, etc. I like this area because it is so large
and so creative that it draws the attention of the world and its
consumers. Scrapbooking keeps growing with constant new ideas to
stimulate the consumer’s interest.
The downside: scrapbooking is so big that the large chains only
understand a portion of it. That's great for the small stores; all
they have to do is do what the chains don’t do and they will be
As the manufacturing competition in scrapbooking grows with
thousands more vendors added yearly, the sales for the other
companies will decrease. The other problem: as thousands of more
scrapbooking stores are built, the sales will decrease. The largest
challenge for scrapbookers is some day it will die. All crafts die
sometime, only to be resurrected at a later time and date. Let’s
hope and pray that it is in our lifetime.
As for the rest of the show, I hear it was quite slow. When you
only have four or five chains buying, what do you expect? I feel
jewelry is making a comeback, but the best way to sell this product
is one bead at a time. Chains to not understand that. Yarn is
selling great but that is like selling socks; it never dies. Wood is
very slow. I am tired of looking at silk flowers and the same old
I feel that basic crafts are steady. Michaels does the best job
in keeping basic craft merchandise in stock, and I feel that is why
they continue to do well. Some of Michaels subsidiaries may drag
them down a point or two, but they will survive. It surely is not
their creative minds. – Mike Dupey, Founder, Michaels
Best show ever, but ....
I wanted to let you know that Search Press had its best show
ever. I thought it was because we had a make-it/take-it for the
first time. Many people who did the make-it/take-it got up and
ordered all our books on the topic, so that was a hit and I will
definitely do it every year from now on.
However, I also heard it was a great show from everyone else I
talked to, so maybe the added business from having the
make-it/take-it was just a nice bonus.
Anyhow, I read the post-show issue of CLN and saw your
comment about the folks at CHA having "hit their stride."
I know you are on the board of CHA but I think you should know from
an exhibitor's point of view, they definitely have a very long way
to go and there is a LOT of frustration among the exhibitors with
the association. So for what it's worth, I'll fill you in on a few
1. In the two weeks before the show, it is almost impossible
to reach a live person at the CHA office. I called and left numerous
voice mails before the show, then resorted to emails and never did
get a return call. Finally out of frustration I called Steve Berger
on his cell phone and did get my problem resolved.
2. They need more fax lines. The week before the deadlines
to fax in forms, one cannot get a fax to go through to their office.
My machine re-dials over and over, but after so many failed
attempts, it prints out a "busy" report page and I have to
try faxing all over again. This year I got sidetracked, meaning to
come back and try again, and it resulted in me missing a deadline
for the Innovations display. Thankfully Steve made an
exception and allowed my product in the display, but only after I
had to go over another's head about the problem. (I should also
mention that I am on the West Coast and am faxing late at night, so
it's not like the whole country is trying to fax in forms at 3 am
East Coast time.) I had this same problem last year.
3. Booth assignments. I had to call at least a half a dozen
times to get my booth number and kept getting told that they were
working on them and that I would be notified soon. At the 11th hour
I called the office to get my booth number so I could put it in an
ad that had a deadline of that day (and this was getting REALLY
close to show time). I was given a "tentative" booth
number and told that it might possibly change. I said that was
unacceptable, I needed to get my show specials printed, and notify
reps and customers of my booth number and it could not change.
Thankfully it didn't, but I could have been promoting the show
and our location at it for weeks before then. In the past, as soon
as I know my booth number I build an email signature advertising the
show with our location in it.
4. I have been calling since two weeks before the show to get
info about the mailing list. On my SIXTH call I finally got a return
phone call about it and was told that the info would be emailed to
me. I am STILL WAITING for it; our post-show mailing is sitting at
our printer in Wisconsin while our show leads are getting cooler by
5. Show books: where do I start with this one. What were they
thinking by telling exhibitors that they could only have ONE copy
per company!!!! Each registered badge holder should get a copy and
there should be extras. I did see the memos that were delivered to
every booth during the show saying that any leftover copies could be
picked up in the lobby, but that was after they created an angry mob
at registration. Hopefully they will have plenty next year and not
try to skimp on printing costs or whatever their motivation was.
With what we exhibitors have to pay to exhibit we are entitled to
6. Move in: The registration desks closed at 5 on move-in
days, but exhibitors were notified that they could set up until 8.
So there were dozens of people at the doors taking out their
frustration on the poor security guards who were just doing their
job by not allowing anyone into the hall without a badge. The badge
pick-up desk should have been staffed until 8 if people could set up
We carried three very heavy boxes of catalogs from the Hilton,
then had to go through a huge hassle just to get someone to let us
take them in and leave them in our booth so I didn't have to take
them back to the hotel. And I have to mention, I was the only one
that was being polite to the security guards because it was not
their fault (and my Nana always told me you can catch more flies
with honey than you can with vinegar), so they finally did escort me
to the booth, but I had to leave immediately after dropping the
boxes off, when I really wanted to get my back walls set up that
7. Express Check in kiosks – a really good idea but it
needs to be fine-tuned a bit. The document with the bar code
apparently is only emailed to the main contact so not all registered
attendees have the bar code to scan. I saw that a lot of the
"main contact" people pick up badges for everyone in their
company, so when other employees showed up to get their badges, they
were shown as already printed, which resulted in more chaos at the
registration area. People were trying to reach their co-workers on
cell phones to try to rendezvous to pick up their badges, but they
were often in meetings, out to dinner, no cell signal, etc., so it
was very complicated and didn't have to be.
I did not personally do a workshop but heard from a couple of
friends that did that it was a nightmare and resulted in a lot of
angry retailers, instructors in tears, and just general stress. This
is ALL secondhand but apparently the workshop numbers were changed
and the teachers (who often are not the main show contacts) were not
notified, the supplies were missing or mis-labeled, and things just
generally did not go well with the classes. Again, I have to mention
that this part is all secondhand so if you want details, please
contact some of the workshop teachers.
I have given workshops in the past and do know how stressful it
can be trying to locate a missing box of supplies in the sea of
boxes in the storage room. When you have an angry mob wanting to
learn a craft and the necessary supplies can't be found and the
clock is ticking before the next workshop starts, things can get
In my opinion, the staff at CHA has a way to go before they hit
their stride. – Susan Kocsis, Search Press
Upbeat and positive.
The industry seems to be picking up with an upbeat and positive
attitude. Visit our Top Trends Report at www.d-originals.com/buzzletters/CHA2006/toptrendsk.html.
(Comment: the site cites Beading, Home Decor, Clear Stamps,
Clay, Ribbon, Tim Holtz, and Flowers.) – Kristy McNeill-Krouse,
Looking to buy.
I walked the CHA show with three new buyers/investors and three
existing buyers. These buyers were reviewing several platform
companies and dozens of add-on opportunities. With any luck I will
be able to send several more acquisition announcements to you before
the summer show. – Name Withheld, Mergers &
Fun and energetic.
I spent most of my time working in what I call "Paper
World" or "Scrapbook land." It was a fun and
energetic place to be: lots of things happening and lots of traffic.
As scrapbooking has reached its peak, it is now all about packaging!
One company, Queen & Co., has captured this wonderfully. The
containers for their brads and buckles are cosmetic containers such
as nail polish bottles and eye shadow pots. Bravo! Very cute and
Creative! – Deb Spofford, Deborah Spofford Designs
Here are some conversations that I, a disgruntled vendor,
overhead at the show:
1. "I used to be afraid of competition stealing product
innovations at the shows. I was happy to see I have outlasted my
competition, but now I'm afraid of my buyers!"
2. Buyer: "What's new in the line this year?"
Vendor: "We don't bring new stuff to the show for fear of being
Buyer: "So, why are you here?"
Vendor: "So you don't think I went out of business."
Buyer : "When will we see the new stuff?"
Vendor: "After the lawyers finish the paperwork"
3. "My buyer just asked for samples of the new line, but
I think I'll wait till they return from China to send them."
4. "What else do you have new? I'm headed to China next
5. "No, we don't buy this from you guys; we outsourced
all this to China last trip over. So how is business?" – Name
Withheld, U.S. Manufacturer
Traffic was up?!?
I thought I should share some of my feelings about this
particular show and even the CHA decisions that affected the show. I
plan to send most of these comments to CHA directly as well.
I actually heard many complaints, mainly from vendors (textile
and general crafts). Your numbers show that traffic was up, but
empty aisles indicated otherwise. Traffic at our end was much slower
than Atlanta. By Wednesday, there were very few buyers floating the
show. We had advance appointments and saw those buyers we needed to
see. Based on that, it was not an unsuccessful show. But overall,
traffic was sparse.
I thought that this year's show had more aggravations than
positive improvements. Many were Las Vegas related – long lines
for coffee, long lines for cabs, long walks to and from the
Monorail, and long walks through the casinos to rooms. Goes with the
territory, I guess. But I feel CHA needs to take some responsibility
for much of the following:
Within the confines of the show floor, more conveniences for the
show attendees would be helpful. Coffee vendors and snack vendors
with actual seating areas would be nice. There was a typical
40-minute wait to buy coffee at Starbucks!
The spread out floor plan only added to the exhaustion. Wide-wide
aisles and empty and unused carpeted booth areas offer unbroken
vistas, but is that what we need? Empty space equates to not enough
people to fill the space (even if it not true, it appears this way)
and lowers the energy of the show. Pretty, but pretty quiet. More
people, more buzz, and more buying – that's what we needed. A
tighter layout adds to that. This show felt very disconnected. The
scrapbook area felt tighter – perhaps because it had more people?
Or were aisles actually closer together?
Contributing to this were the many mini-aisles. These are
created, I'm told, to offer aisle access to small booths (who pay
more for the privilege). In truth, they receive little additional
exposure and just contribute to the disconnected feeling of the
show. These added aisles just add to the confusion when trying to
navigate a show. They brake up the flow of the show, increasing
floor space and adding to the hike of walking the show. Several
times while walking the show floor, I suddenly realized that I was
in an aisle I had already walked, because I had taken a turn at one
of the smaller aisles (causing me to miss entire areas, and wasting
Missing booths were aided and abetted by the lack of show books.
CHA apologized later in the show, but this incensed many vendors. We
had the equivalent of 17 ten-foot booths. One show book? I don't
Lanyards advertising for specific vendors may have made CHA some
money, but why should one vendor be required to advertise for
another? This is a great idea for buyers, but give the vendors an
option to wear a plain lanyard and not be required to wear
advertising for their competition. (Turning them over to the plain
side was an unsatisfying option.) Competition is great, but I don't
have to wear it around my neck.
My final aggravation was the distance between the scrapbook area
and the main show. We are one industry, not two. I thought the
traffic was way down on the main show floor, while traffic was brisk
in scrapbooking. Predictable, and somewhat acceptable, by trend
standards. But by dividing the sections so thoroughly, we were
robbed of the benefit of many of those buyers. Did they all make it
into the main hall? I doubt it. Some did, I'm sure – but more
would have, if access was easier. Even the new scrapbooking
exhibitors suffered from lack of exposure to these scrapbook buyers.
Your newsletter suggested that scrapbook stores wanted to broaden
their horizons. Add a mix of related product. Great! We need that.
Make it easy for them! Tighten up the show floor, fill the
curtained-off space with actual booths rather than moving booths to
another hall, have less superfluous aisles, and more show books to
guide them. Sectioning off categories makes sense, but putting the
most active category in a different hall does not.
Gift and stationery shows seem to be laid out in a tighter more
efficient floor plan than CHA. All shows are exhausting to walk. And
a large industry increases the exhaustion. Before someone looks at
our show floor and has the brilliant idea to split us into two shows
completely, lets tighten up the show floor. An exhausted buyer is
not a happy buyer.
I have been doing HIA/CHA shows for 30 years, and I believe this
one was my least favorite. And, discussions during the show with
other vendors suggest that my opinion was shared by others. Shows
are many things to many people – among them, a place to display
your products, to connect with buyers, and place to reconnect
socially with industry friends. This was the most disconnected show
I can remember attending.
I look forward to Anaheim, where many of the Vegas related
problems will automatically disappear. I hope CHA looks at some of
these other issues and makes changes to benefit the entire industry.
– Name Withheld (Large Manufacturer)
This is probably something you will NOT hear from someone else. I
had the opportunity to also walk the Surfaces show in Las
Vegas held concurrently with CHA. While the CHA show was large, it
was dwarfed by the Surfaces show. Comparing a sense of gross
dollars alone it would be even worse. In terms of attendance I would
guess just from the one day I walked it, the Surfaces show
probably had well over 100,000 attendees. You could not navigate the
aisles, especially downstairs, because they were so crowded. In
comparing the two shows CHA looked very tired. – Name Withheld,
I actually had quite a good show. I thought the atmosphere was
quite upbeat in contrast to both CHA shows last year and MemoryTrends.
I exceeded my sales goal by a bit. The one thing I was a little
disappointed by was the fact that most of my orders were from
existing customers. I did not get too many orders from new
customers. Of course that will still play out over the coming
months, so we'll see.
I heard mostly good things from my exhibitor friends. The one
thing that seemed to be an across-the-board complaint from both
attendees and vendors was the placement of the new exhibitors. CHA
certainly didn't do those poor people any favors. I have a couple of
friends over there and they were very unhappy and justifiably so.
– Mitra Friant, Impression Obsession
(Note: Any comments you'd like to add. Email them to email@example.com.
To read previous Business-Wise articles, click on the titles in the