Demise of the American Sewing Expo (ASE) - March 22, 2017
Last September I spent three days at the American Sewing Expo in Novi, Michigan. In the past I took as many classes as possible and also spent a lot of time shopping at the sewing vendors. Then I experienced an overload of classes, so I only went there to shop. Of course I made sure I was there at 5:00 p.m. on Sunday, the last day of the show, so I was eligible to win one of the many prizes given away at that time. Each year the number of vendors and visitors dwindled.
In 2016 I signed up for a Wednesday preshow class taught by Gail Patrice Yellen. This was a hands-on class taught by a nationally recognized instructor. I am so glad I made the decision to invest my time and money to take the class.
I returned to the expo Saturday and Sunday for two more classes. I was really a little disappointed when I walked into the hall where the vendor displays were. There were even less than last year! I knew then ASE was in trouble! I knew if the vendors did not come, the attendees would not come and there would not be a show!
About a week ago I received an email from ASE confirming my worst fears for the show were a reality. Swatches, the newsletter of the ASE, announced the expo is being replaced by Sewcial Retreats! I felt really sad when I read this news. The sewists in this area have been really fortunate to have a sewing show like this for so many years. It has been an excellent venue to take sewing and serger classes from high caliber teachers as well as a place to shop for hard to find sewing related products.
Yesterday I called Janet Pray to talk to her about the expo. Although I am sad about the demise of the ASE, I understand why Janet decided to discontinue it. It could not continue as a viable business if the vendors and attendees were decreasing in large numbers each year. The internet affected the ASE just as it has affected the business of almost all brick and mortar stores. Vendors aren’t interested in transporting their goods great distances and set up booths to sell those goods when they can easily sell them on line without the travel expense and booth expense. The same is true for those of us who take classes. Many prefer to sign up for on line classes with the ability to take the class at their convenience and in the comfort of their homes. Classes like Craftsy and others give you the benefit of being able to repeat the class as many times as you wish. When you take a lot of classes in 3 or 4 days, it is possible to experience information overload. It is difficult to retain what you learn, if you take in too much information in a short period of time.
The world is changing. Sewing is changing and the business of sewing is also changing. We may not like all the changes, but all of us have contributed to the changes in some way.
Janet Pray has done the Sewcial Retreats for a few years now and has received many good comments from those who attended. If you are on the list for the ASE newsletter, you will receive information about the Sewcial Retreats. If you are not on the list and would like to receive information, the website is americansewingexpo.com/sewcial.html.
Good luck on your sewing projects. I hope you continue to find ways to improve your sewing skills and your creativity!