Despite the recession, the 2009 Kentucky Crafted trade show with items by state artists, fared well compared to other trade shows nationwide. WFPL’s Elizabeth Kramer reports.
The Kentucky Arts Council produces Kentucky Crafted, which is held in Louisville. It reports this February’s trade show generated more than half a million dollars in sales of items including fine art and crafts. The council reports it does not have reliable sales numbers for 2007 and 2008. This year’s event brought in 5 percent fewer exhibitors compared to 2007. A 2008 March snowstorm meant even lower numbers that year.
Kentucky Arts Council executive director Lori Meadows says she had expected a more significant drop in exhibitors and wholesale buyers.
“We were just slightly under the 2007 numbers in terms of the businesses that attended the market,” she says. “And I think we’re looking at people wanting to represent locally made goods.”
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Attendance by businesses buying goods fell by only 7 percent and the number of exhibitors by 5 percent from 2007.
And while public attendance fell nearly 15 percent from 2007, retail sales made by the public comprised 46 percent of the show’s more than half a million dollars in sales. The rest of the sales were made to wholesale buyers.
Meadows says she thinks there’s a certain attitude driving those numbers.
“People are wanting to support local business and looking at the creative industry and the artists in the state, that’s definitely local business,” she says. “People will buy locally, just as they are for produce.”
The news comes as many trade shows nationwide are reporting sharp declines. The American Craft Council, for instance, saw a near 20 percent decline in wholesale buyers at its February show in Baltimore.
Meadows says the council is working on Kentucky Crafted 2010, and she sees many marketing opportunities to boost turnout and sales.
“I think we’re still looking at a lot of people who don’t realize the extreme wealth of local talent that we have,” she says, “and by local I mean within the state of Kentucky.”