Trade shows are an opportunity for people that work in the same industry to come together and connect, learn new skills and share new products. As a small business owner, I have always enjoyed visiting trade shows for the chance to talk with other business owners that understand the struggles of running a small e-commerce craft supply store and that also love to geek out over fun notions and beautiful threads. Sadly, several of the big craft industry trade shows in the US, like TNNA, did not survive the pandemic shutdowns, which left a big hole in the industry.
In 2022, the organization that puts together the the h+h trade show in Cologne, Germany (one of the biggest craft industry trade shows in Europe) started a sister show in the United States called h+h americas. I was not able to attend the inaugural year, but I was determined to attend in 2023 and I am so glad that I did!
The h+h americas show took place in Chicago from June 21-23, 2023. I arrived on June 20th because I was hoping to take one of the pre-show master classes. The class I wanted was full, so I decided to explore the city instead. It had been over 18 years since my last visit to the Windy City and we got really lucky with a perfect 70 degree and sunny day. Having a chance to soak in the city was a great way to start the trip. 25,000 steps later, I was ready to head back to our hotel, rest up and get ready to head to the show on Wednesday morning.
My first day at h+h americas began with a great class on email marketing with Aeolidia. I left the class inspired with many new ideas for better ways to connect and communicate with the Snuggly Monkey community, and I was ready to head out onto the show floor and start exploring the booths.
Vendors definitely skewed heavily towards knitting with dozens upon dozens of booths filled with gorgeous balls of yarn (how do knitting shop owners choose among so much beautiful color??), but I was pleasantly surprised by how many vendors catered to hand embroidery and other hand stitching crafts. One of my favorite parts of the show was getting to meet many of the designers and business owners that I have worked with for years via email IN PERSON, such as Krista from Avlea Folk Embroidery and the whole team from Orimono Imports. It was also great to run into old friends that I had not seen since pre-pandemic days, like Lee Monroe from May Chappell and the amazing team behind Quilt Con.
Before I left for Chicago, I reviewed the list of vendors and made was happy to discover that several of the companies I had already been thinking of ordering from were going to be at the show. So, I went with a specific list of vendors to visit in mind, but I was also curious to just wander and discover new vendors and products. I admit it was a little difficult to stop myself from buying one of EVERYTHING. I am very excited about all of the new product lines that I will be bringing into the shop over the next few months including kits and supplies from Hawthorne Handmade, Trailhead Yarns, Andover Fabrics, dellaQ, MCreativeJ, Hilos Omega, Lucky Jonquil and more. Here are a few sneak peeks ...
So, when will all this goodness start arriving in the shop?? While I would love to have all of this goodness in hand NOW, most of the orders I placed will start arriving by late summer and into early fall (one of the orders I placed will not start shipping until November!) The thing with trade shows is that many vendors use this as an opportunity to showcase new and upcoming products. In certain cases, the tools and notions I was able to see and test out were actually prototypes or working models because the retail versions were not in production yet. As fun as it is to be able to see everything early, it is also difficult to wait to be able to bring these great new products to all of you!
I am very glad I made the trip out to Chicago and I am already looking forward to next year's show, which will be held in early May 2024. If you work in the craft industry in any capacity, I would definitely recommend making the trip if you can. You can find more information about h+h americas here. If you would like to see more photos and videos, head over to Snuggly Monkey on Instagram and click on the "h+h" highlight on the main profile to watch all the videos I took while there or head to the wrap up posts on the main feed that I posted each night.