Mega craft show One of a Kind not returning to Vancouver

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After a four-year run at the Vancouver Convention Centre, the One of a Kind Show (OOAK) will not be returning to Vancouver.

“In the current landscape, a difficult decision had to be made which reflected the reality of the economic position of the show,” said a spokesperson involved with the show.

A city too small for two big shows

One of a Kind craft show leaves Vancouver for good amidst controversy over exhibitor exclusivity and economic hardships. Photo credit: explace.on.ca.
One of a Kind craft show leaves Vancouver for good amidst controversy over exhibitor exclusivity and economic hardships. Photo credit: explace.on.ca.

In 2008 the arts and crafts show, which is hugely popular in Toronto where it originated in 1975, threw itself into direct competition with Circle Craft’s Christmas Market, an equally long-running and very similar Vancouver craft show.

After a lack of response from exhibitors this year, OOAK was cancelled in the spring.

“The public for the most part has been coming to our show for thirty years,” said Paul Yard, Circle Craft’s show producer. “The people that are really into the craft business . . . would be coming to our show, and as much as [OOAK] tried to get people from our show to participate in theirs, they weren’t able to do that.”

Rules over exhibitor exclusivity create tension

OOAK’s organizers had imposed an exclusivity rule, which prevented exhibitors from participating in other craft shows within 30 days on either side of theirs.

Before the cancellation, earlier this year, the Convention Centre scheduled OOAK’s show within 30 days of the Circle Craft Christmas Market.

In an attempt to draw more exhibitors, OOAK adjusted the rule to 15 days.

In response, Circle Craft created their own 30 day exclusivity rule.

“It’s a very big game that’s being played,” said Yard. “We fell into it because we felt threatened . . . we no longer feel threatened.”

Vancouver Convention Centre left show organizers scrambling

“We were able to be the nice people on the block, because One of a Kind had the rule, we didn’t need the rule,” he added. “We only felt we needed a rule when they changed it directly because they got dates way too close to ours.”

“That was something the Convention Centre dropped the ball on.”

Yard feels that Vancouver is too small for two large Christmas craft markets, since exhibitors don’t usually want to attend two such similar shows in one city.

“Exhibitors understand that it’s no good to be seen everywhere,” he said. “It’s just common sense . . . you can’t see the same audience over and over again and expect to get sales.”

One exhibitor who has sold her wares at both Circle Craft and OOAK in Toronto and Vancouver, agrees.

“If there are two shows in the same city and they are only 30 days apart, the idea would be that the customers have . . . already seen you and shopped from you,” she said.

“I think that Circle Craft is Vancouver’s One of a Kind show. For the One of a Kind show to try to start up in Vancouver, I think that they weren’t able to take the market share away from Circle Craft.”

Reported by Stacy Thomas

PODCAST: Reporter Stacy Thomas speaks with Circle Craft director Paul Yard about the situation between Circle Craft and One of a Kind shows in Vancouver.

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