Wednesday, April 22, 2009

2009 Fine Craft and Design Fair, St. John's

One of the big rocks in my annual schedule is the Craft Council of Newfoundland and Labrador's Fine Craft and Design Fair, held in St. John's each November. When I first exhibited at the show in 1998, It was held at Memorial Stadium, which has since become a supermarket. We had an eight year run at the Convention Centre from 2001-2008, which I enjoyed, but they have continued to raise their costs and we've been seriously searching for alternative venues for the past several years.

In 2009, we have the opportunity to expand the fair to 10 days at a new venue at the Arts and Culture Centre in St. John's.

This wasn't an easy decision, but the CCNL executive, the Craft Fair committee and staff have gone over all the options and polled everyone who has been involved with the fair over the past several years before concluding that now was the time to make the move from the Convention Centre and try something new at the Arts and Culture Centre. We had options to drastically raise booth fees, move to a smaller venue, or shorten the length of the fair. Those weren't popular choices with the majority of the members.

We chose to expand the fair to 10 days, with a break in the middle to allow a switch over in booths. Some boothholders will be there for all 10 days, while others will be there for the first half or the second half. The ACC has over 460 parking spaces for shoppers, we'll have additional promotion through the ACC, and we'll be within walking distance of the University, Health Sciences Centre, the Confederation Building, and CBC. As an organization, the CCNL has a much better chance of breaking even running this event -- which is crucial to guaranteeing that it will be around in the future. People who participated in CCNL craft fairs at the Arts and Culture Centre in the 1980s recall groups of shoppers wandering down from the government buildings on their lunch hour just to shop.

I had a busy summer and fall last year, so I wasn't able to participate in the 2008 fair. I'm going to plan to attend this year, no matter what comes up. Sales are an important part of the show, but what I really missed was interaction with my customers and other craftspeople. The Fine Craft and Design Fair is where I field test new products and its the one time of the year where I crawl out of my cave and feel like I'm part of a community.

Knowing that its there is a big comfort to me. I'll talk a bit more on Friday about some of the big rocks that are falling into place for the summer, but once they are wrapped up I can look forward to the fair in the Fall, then Christmas, then next year's wholesale season and I know that I'll be okay for at least the next 12-15 months. There are little jobs and pots of money to pay the bills on the horizon for as far as I can see into the future and that's very important for getting a good sleep at night.

Photo Credits:
Tim Rast

Photo Captions:
Top: The Elfshot Booth at 2006's Fine Craft and Design Fair, St. John's
Bottom: Lori demonstrating the correct method for purchasing a Spindrift moose flap cap.

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