Felt Club is a madhouse! A madhouse!

feltclub-line.jpgGwen and I arrived at 10:30, half an hour before the doors opened. The line went to the end of the block, around the corner, to the end of that block, and doubled back around to the first corner. We were numbers 250 and 251 to enter the Ukranian Cultural Center. I know because Gwen got the last goodie bag (she is awesome and shared).

The photo, by the way, is of the line to get in at 12:30. It went partway around the corner again, an hour and a half after start time. (Click for bigger.)

Now, I love Felt Club. I think it is a wonderful idea and one that Los Angeles needed. I had a phenomenally good time at the first one, then missed a couple because I had a brand new baby, and enjoyed one or two in the fall. Then there was the XL Holiday Felt Club, and I didn’t like the crowds. And then they announced that they were abandoning the monthly fairs in favor of two XL Editions per year, and I will be honest: I think it is a huge mistake.

More after the cut.

Today was not fun. The room was so packed, even with people held back (I assume it was for fire code concerns), that it was at times literally impossible to move. I sweated so much that I was wet. It was unbearable. I feared for my wallet the whole time, even amongst wonderful crafty types (and I wonder if there was much shoplifting from vendors who could not watch their whole booth at all times). I could not get to any of the vendor tables. In the end I saw only three people’s goods, which I think defeats the entire purpose of the event. At a craft fair, I want to really see things; talk to the artists. Maybe even (gasp!) buy things.

It also seemed that all of the vendors were the more established people, the ones who already have a good web presence and are (relatively) well-known, at least in the crafting community. I am not disparaging that! I think it is wonderful and every single one of them deserves it. But I worry that smaller, newer folks will not participate in a huge semi-yearly fair like they might have in a little once-a-month fair. And that is tragic for the community. It doesn’t offer growth or variety. It’s bad for craft and it’s bad for the consumers, too.

I am not writing off Felt Club. I still think it is the best show in town. I would really like to see it in smaller doses more frequently. If the monthly fair was too much to plan for, as I suspect it was, make it quarterly (including or in addition to the two XL editions).

5 thoughts on “Felt Club is a madhouse! A madhouse!”

  1. Hi Annika,

    Thanks for your thoughts, and thanks for dealing with our growing pains. The crowd control ended up being a real problem this time, because so many people showed up early wanting to get a swag bag. The press we got was wonderful and much appreciated, but we have certainly outgrown our venue and we’re definitely aware of that. The venue was have booked for November is MUCH larger, well ventilated, and we’ll be able to tell everyone more about that soon. The crowds today would not have been such an issue had they been spaced out better, but I will say things were MUCH more managable after the first couple of hours, and most people seemed to be having a blast. I do want you to know we’re totally aware of the growth issues though, and are working on it.

    Also, if you check out our blog and are on our mailing list you’ll see that we actually hold regular crafty events here and there (not necessarily sales), such as our free craft classes at Whole Foods. We’re also curating a series of craft classes and demos at the LA County Fair in September. So we’re quite active in trying to foster and highlight all the crafty goodness happening in L.A..

    As for the lack of smaller, less-known crafters participating in our fair, there were actually several vendors participating who were totally new to our show and/or who do not even have websites. We try to showcase the best and brightest crafters around, but even so we do mix up our vendor list and at least half of this event’s participants were totally knew to the fair. We get 4x the amount of applicants that we have spaces for, so we simply can’t feature everyone. But if you’re looking to support folks on a more regular basis than our biannual sales, I recommend checking out some of LA’s other, smaller events such as the Little Monster Market in Studio City, or Kraftwerks at Ghetto Gloss, Bazaar Bizarre at the Shrine (now it it’s 5th or 6th year?) or any of the other crafty events that seem to be popping up left and right. We may be a well-publicized event but we’re hardly the only craft event happening in L.A., so I hate to think some unanticipated overcrowding at our event has been tragic for the craft scene. If anything I’d say things are looking up all over in this department.

    Anyway– I’m sorry you had such a tough time at the event and I thank you for your thoughtful comments. I sincerely thank you for hanging out as long as you did, and thanks for the opportunity to speak up.

  2. Oops, I didn’t mean to include Bazaar Bizarre in my list of “smaller” craft fairs– of course, since they actually feature about 200 vendors each time, if I recall correctly. I just meant to list it as yet another crafty event you might enjoy that has been around way longer than ours.

  3. I was there for more than half the day, and it was packed for the first couple of hours due to the crowds who came hoping for swag bags. However, for the rest of the day I don’t think anyone had a problem strolling around and seeing every booth.

  4. Hi Jenny! Thanks for your comments. I had forgotten about the classes (I am on the mailing list) because they have not (so far) interested me personally. I really do love Felt Club, and I’m glad to know there were newer vendors (as I said, I couldn’t see everyone). I still would prefer smaller, more frequent events, but I really appreciate your response.

  5. Annika, I felt the same way you did — I was dripping, and having to fight my way through all the people every time I wanted to see something really took a lot of the fun out of it. My favorite part of Felt Club has been browsing all the vendors’ things and talking to them, which just wasn’t possible this time. I’m happy to see from Jenny’s post that there’s going to be a bigger and better ventilated venue next time, but I agree with you that it would be nicer to have more events.

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