The concept of the wholesale gift show was born in Chicago in 1921, with trade shows held downtown every February and August.  So it has been a particularly sad turn of events that Chicago lost first the long-lived GLM show at McCormick Place, then the robust Chicago Gift Show at the Merchandise Mart, and finally this year even the small Windy City Show in Rosemont, near O’Hare Airport.

But a new option is on the horizon, starting next January.  Flower Show Productions is initiating the Midwest Collective Gift Show.  The company is know for its flagship event, the Chicago Flower & Garden Show at Navy Pier, which takes place in March. The dates will for their first gift show will be January 21-23, 2018.

According to Flower Show Productions web site, “This new bi-annual wholesale trade show will offer retail buyers tremendous product selections within the hand-made, general gift, home décor, tabletop and cash and carry (not open to the public) categories. Navy Pier Festival Hall B will provide a convenient downtown location with a floor plan and programming that focuses on facilitating new business opportunities.  The re-imagined Navy Pier enhancements offer attendees new dining options, and compelling landscape and design features that celebrate the centennial of the “People’s Pier.” 

Sales reps and vendors anxious for a venue in Chicago are looking carefully at this new option. As with any trade show, there must be a significant number of buyers in order to support the exhibitors — and a significant number of exhibitors to attract enough buyers.  Retailers in the Midwest who have missed having a Chicago gift show should make plans to attend this new show to show their support.  It’s been almost a century since the first Chicago trade show was started, and hopefully the time has come for a new one to fill the gap left by those that came before.

Happy Retailing,

Carol “Orange” Schroeder 

Note: A November, 2017 update:  The new Chicago gift show announced for January, 2018 has been postponed due to a delay in the construction of a hotel at Navy Pier. Flower Show Productions posted this on their website: “We are extremely disappointed that we are not able to bring a much needed gift show to the Midwest this January. We will keep you posted on any future developments for a fall 2018 or January 2019 show.”