Winter 2014
Show Time! By Becky Tyre

Planning on at least one market this year? In the last issue of GIFT SHOP, we reviewed some tips for pre-show planning and advice on what to bring. Here are some tips on how to make the most of your time at the show.

Travel expenses and time away from the store are major concerns if you want to attend wholesale tradeshows. With some advance preparation and a few organizational tools for attending shows, you can get the most out of them. Here are some ideas for what works during the show:

Get copies of all orders.

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Take a hard copy with you and for electronic transactions, have the sales representative email you the order while you are still in the showroom or booth. Collect and keep exhibitor and sales rep contact information for follow-up, questions and reorders. Take advantage of show specials, ask about minimums and terms.

Do some trend-spotting.

Being observant of recurring themes throughout the show will help you identify trends in the market. Take note of busy booths to see what products are creating excitement among buyers.

Explore new lines and showrooms that you do not currently do business with.

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Many market websites have vendor catalogs for previewing. Following the markets and vendors on social media is also a way of keeping up with new product introductions and trends.

Visit the temporaries and new product areas.

Many new products and smaller lines do not have permanent showrooms at the market centers, so they exhibit in booths in areas commonly referred to as the “temps.”

Watch for visual merchandising ideas.

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Product displays in the showrooms and booths can provide inspiration for store displays and also offer ideas for props or fixtures that you may need to purchase to display the products when they arrive in-store.

Network and connect with industry experts and colleagues.

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In addition to seminars and workshop opportunities, many showrooms sponsor meet-and-greets, book signings and host celebrity guests during markets.

Bonus Tip.

VegasFriends-copyNetworking and educational opportunities are part of what makes each market unique with opportunities to meet special guests, have some fun and build your business. Most seminars and workshops during gift shows are offered at no charge, but others require advance registration and may have a fee. Popular seminar topics are visual merchandising, social media, email marketing, trends and color forecasts. Seminar schedules are on the market websites and in the show guides.

“Networking with your fellow colleagues whom you may only see a few times a year and making it a focus to bring new industry friends into the fold can help you establish long-standing relationships.”
— Julia Garreaud, Buyers Relations Manager at NY Now

“Sometimes your first visit to a market can be overwhelming. That is why we recommend our Buyer Orientation Breakfasts—held during January and July Markets—where you can work with the Retail Services team to plan the strategy for your market visit.”
— Andrew Long, AmericasMart’s executive director of retail services

“Trend seminars and line tours can be invaluable. Take photos of visual merchandising ideas that can be executed in the store.”
— Eva Walsh, VP Business Development at Dallas Market Center

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Here’s what our Facebook fans have to say.

Cindy Hartigan: “Leave the building for lunch. A time-out is important.”

Darlene Tenes: “Bring a hands-free purse, cards and a pen, light sweater and comfortable shoes.”

Cara Rybarik: “Bring labels for shipping and billing.”

Caity Olenowski: “If possible, spend one full day walking the show looking for trends and jotting down notes before going back and writing with vendors.”

Sandy Tanner: “Leave room in your suitcase for bringing back more than you take – brochures, free samples and some shows have cash-and-carry areas.”

Mari Levell: “Resist the urge to take a friend or family member to the show. Though you may think it will be fun to share the “glamourous” side of your job, you are better off taking a staff member who knows your business.”

Cynthia Hernandez: “Leave the show a bit before closing to avoid the long lines for shuttles and taxis.”

Kendall Thompson: “Follow up with everyone you meet at the show within two weeks. Join them on social media or LinkedIn or email them a ‘nice to meet you’ note.”

Becky Tyre

Becky Tyre is the senior trends editor for GIFT SHOP Magazine and the owner of the Retail Details blog.




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