We've finally returned from two shows back to back. The week before last we exhibited at the International Quilt Festival in Houston and this last week we exhibited at the Knitting and Stitching in Dublin.
What an interesting stretch of days. What a tiring stream of days.
I am very fortunate that we could take part and I'm delighted that we successfully exhibited at both. This week we finalise the latest issue, so it is such a productive month!
My thoughts in this post were to summarise the two shows individually, and of course in comparison.
The Houston show was immense. Naturally it is dedicated to quilting, so everyone shares one love. Apparently the attendance numbers were down, the isles quieter than past years. As a first-time exhibitor, this was not as obvious to myself. Four years I have been traveling to Houston (three as nonexhibitor) and not once have I made it to see the quilts on show. One year, I will find some stolen time and I will check out the quilts on display. If you have been to either Houston Market or Festival, you will understand the overwhelming amount to see and do in a short span of time.
The Knitting and Stitching show in Dublin continues to grow each year. This year it arrived later in November and I wondered if the miss of school break would make a difference in the crowds. School's in session, and yet, the isles were still crowded. In fact, it would appear some schools made the tour so children did not miss out. As a 'knitting and stitching' event, there was a great mixture of craft enthusiasts. Unlike at the Houston event, I did have help in Dublin and I was able to chat with customers and vendors alike. I also saw the incredible display of quilts--many marking the 30th anniversary of the Irish Patchwork Society.
With a great showing of vendors (Oakshott, Van Gogh, multiple Irish quilt shops). The first thing I learned from the vendors was that the mixed crowd (knitting and stitching) was increased work for them. Even at our booth, we realised the impact of non quilters with the many queries for the nonexistent pricing our quilts on display. Several non-stitching visitors were confused as to what product was being sold, whereas quilters were well educated on a quilt booth's wares.
Interested readers were ample at both shows, making our attendance well worth the effort.
As both shows happened one after another, I amused my travel times both in car and plane comparing the two events. Perhaps unfairly.
The Houston show caters to a full blown industry of quilters. The Dublin show is for craft enthusiasts. Both shows had education and workshops and so the biggest difference was in the vending. And, of course economics played a role as well, but in general, I could see finances being a distinct concern for the people of both continents.
There were no beginner quilters in Houston--no one outting themselves to me, anyway. Whereas in Dublin, from the nonquilting crowd, the beginners were out and proud; so many folks wanting to learn patchwork, wanting to find quilting teachers.
The quilters in Houston were finding a new affection for embellishing and creating art quilts like those that European quilters do so regularily.
Finally, other marked differences are simply summed up in two words: customer behavior. For fear of getting into trouble, but for want to share my amusement, I leave it with you to guess which clientele carries which attribute:
In one show among the upbeat and happy, there were some weirdos. The ones that know no personal space, those that ramble on about nothing, those that leave you wondering, "what was that all about?"
In the other show among the upbeat and happy, there were some contrary. The ones with a sour puss, the ones that gripe as if you are forcing them to buy, the ones that leave you wondering, "what was that all about?"
In truth, it doesn't matter which is which, I've come to learn that the same resolution is true for both of them. I listen. Because he/she is my customer. I listen. If I can do something to help them, I will. I listen, because they want to be heard.
Isn't that we all want?