Tuesday, March 20, 2012

trade show wrapup

Whew - trade show number 1 is in the books for me! Now I'll be moving on to setting up my shop, starting today!

But first, a few notes on my first trade show experience. 

Let me just say this - setup was stressful. For a first time trade show exhibitor, everything is brand new. You're not quite sure where you're going, where to park, where to load in, what your booth will look like, who your neighbors will be, how your setup is going to work for you or the buyers. And if, like me, you're just entering the wholesale market, you're worried about your price sheet, your order form, how the whole process of writing orders will work... So many things to worry about! It was helpful that I had done a few craft shows, so booth setup wasn't an entirely foreign concept to me. 
Setup was not without it's frustrations. We ended up with a lot of last minute creative problem-solving to make things work. The shelving units that I used (notice the past tense - I will not be using them again!) for my display stands are a pain to put together even in the best of circumstances, but of course at this most stressful of moments, were a nightmare. The flooring in the exhibit hall is green astroturf and I brought a gray carpet for my booth, which didn't quite cover side to side, making a lot of uneven surface issues. We had the darndest time getting these things assembled so they would sit evenly and not wobble with the slightest touch, and after we had torn them apart and reassembled them several times, we resorted to using a wood shim from the gracious ladies in the booth next door for the worst of the units, and lots of wadded up paper towels from the restroom to balance the rest!
I also realized soon after we had everything unloaded and sitting in the booth, that I had forgotten my photo enlargements, which were the only thing I had to add to the side walls of the booth. Thankfully, I had enlisted my sister-in-law to help with setup and I live only 30 minutes from the trade show location, so I sent her hurrying back to my house to retrieve them. I guess I made the right call in deciding to start my wholesaling journey by doing a show so close to home :)
I think the finished display turned out nicely for my first time, but now that know more, there are definitely changes I will make if I decide to do more trade shows.

  1. Photos, photos, photos. Next time I will do more photo enlargements. Way more. Lots of buyers are bustling through in a hurry. They have a lot of ground to cover in a limited amount of time, and if your display doesn't catch their eye on a quick pass-by, you've lost them. Especially with jewelry as small and detailed as mine I really, really need more large photos to pull buyers in. The photo enlargements I did have were great, and got lots of compliments on them, but next time I need more. And probably bigger ones too.
  2. I think next time I need to push some things out to the aisle. Maybe have 1 table that sits right along the aisle. Even if some buyers paused looking at my large photos, they didn't always step into the booth to look at the jewelry. If some of it were sitting right along the aisle I think it would help.  
  3. My booth setup was also uncomfortable for me as a seller. I had the tables pushed forward from the back of the booth, which was nice because it gave me room behind to store all my miscellaneous paperwork, food, supplies, etc. But it was uncomfortable when lots of buyers were in the booth looking, I felt like there wasn't a good place for me to stand... Maybe some of that is just my discomfort with selling, but I think there could be a better booth design to help with that. Just not sure what it is yet!

All in all it was a great experience. Not the most comfortable experience. But I have to put myself in situations that push me sometimes. It's the only way I grow, and help my business to grow. I met so many talented local artists and shop owners that I never would have met otherwise. My jewelry will be in some great stores around the area come summer, and we'll see where the road leads from here. 

{Business goals: Do a wholesale trade show this year. Check!}

1 comment:

  1. That's exactly it. It's not the most comfortable experience doing a trade show, but if you plan well, the results are worth it. There are a lot of things you have to plan ahead that you might not have originally given much consideration to at first glance. For example, shipping costs, especially for attending bigger trade shows that are farther away from your residence. You have to estimate possible drayage costs and be aware of how you'll track your items when it ships. And other considerations when dealing with other third party transactions, such as freight companies for shipping.



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