Trade Show Series

Monday, July 4, 2011

I’ve been remiss – to put it lightly. I had a great start on our blog last year and with the loss of so many close to me in two very short years, I shut down: creatively, verbally, emotionally. Writing became the last thing to do on an ever growing list of to-do’s.

I still haven’t recovered from the loss of both my grandmothers, my dog of 10 years, my cat of 18 years and countless other reasons that dulled my senses for so long – but I’m better. And my grandmother Betty would say "Up and at em' the days a wasting".

So here we are, with a brand new blog created by Lauren Cross with all the bells and whistles and more than I can ask for, feel free to contact Lauren if you’re interested in any of her many talents. She is certainly on my TOP TEN Most Idolized women’s list.

What’s the first topic of discussion: Trade/Bead/Craft Show participation as a vendor. What does it take? If you don’t know, we’ve asked some of our FAVORITE vendors to help you possibly move from –Craft Fair to Craft Show, from Local Bazaar to Bead & Button, from beading for your friends to beading for a profit.

2011 Bead and Button Show setup

Every couple of days we’ll feature a new guest who will answer questions posed to them by Tamara Allison- Tamara's website; Kelli Burns -The Hole Bead Shoppe and Stephanie Haussler of Pixybug Designs Stephanie's Blog and the update will be posted on The Hole Bead Shoppe Facebook Fan page, Twitter and Kelli Burns personal page. We’ll also ask that our couple of hundred or so friends on Facebook share the link – to hopefully spread the wise words of our participants. All participants were asked the same 10 questions with three optional answer questions.

You can look forward to reading tips on Bead Show setup from (in no particular order): Andrew Thornton -Andrew's Blog; Kate McKinnon - Kate's Blog, Yvonne Irvin - Yvonne's Website; Wendy Baker - Wendy's Etsy, Michael Burns - The Hole Bead Shoppe, Debra Saucier - Deb's Website; Marianne Kasparian - Mak's website; Pat Riesenburger-Pat's Blog; Nikia Angel - Nikia's Website; Marsha Hedrick - Marsha's Website and hopefully, more!

To begin the series (my questions will be several posts as well) on Trade Show Setup, I’ve tried to answer a few of Stephanie Saussler’s questions below:

How do you get to the show? Drive or Fly or? We drive, our inventory and booth setup does not allow us to fly at this point, which restricts our travel distance.

How much is booth registration?
Every booth we have is a different price – the To Bead True Blue booth in Tucson, Arizona is the most expensive.

Where do you stay for the duration of the show?
We have rented houses for longer stays but 99% of the time we stay in budget/cheap hotels.

How many days are you gone, including travel time?
The time we’re away from home depends upon the time and distance of the show. The To Bead True Blue show in Tucson, Arizona is the longest show we attend at 7 days for To Bead True Blue and 3 days for The Tucson Bead Show. It takes us 18-21 hours to drive there, one day before setup. With setup being the day before, we’re usually gone from our home at least 14 days for the Tucson show. However, in 2012, we’re only attending To Bead True Blue and hope to be gone less time. In 2011, we were stuck in Amarillo, Texas in a blizzard. We were gone from home over 17 days and left our family with the responsibility of taking care of our retail shop, website and house in the same blizzard conditions (24 inches of snow, twice during that period)
Trying to outrun the storm

Storm catches us and strands others

How do you decide what inventory to take?
Our inventory requirements have changed over the past 5 years of attending bead and trade shows as vendors. Of course, for larger shows, we take three times the inventory we would take for smaller shows. We determine the size of shows by amount of vendors, not attendance. The smallest show we attend is 45 vendors. Of course, the largest, being Tucson, is the entire city of Tucson and there is no way of knowing how many vendors there are in the city. But, each year, the stock you bring to the show should increase or change. By this I mean, as you introduce new products, new colors, new styles, your inventory will change, thus, so should your customer base, as each year you attend a show – you make new contacts.

What tips have you learned from doing shows that you could share with others?
1. Being a vendor at a trade is the ONLY time you’ll invest money in your business and have the opportunity to gain it back immediately. What I mean is – you are paying X amount for a booth – and every person who attends this show – wants beads. It’s not like an ad in a magazine where the person might overlook the ad or not like the layout, etc.
2. You are selling yourself as much as your inventory – you must put on your game face, every second, every minute – just because no one is in your booth, doesn’t mean a prospective client isn’t watching you. If a client frustrates you, don’t show it in the venue. The same goes for another vendor – don’t show it in public.
3. Leave early – plan for the worse (flat tire, road construction, inclimate weather, equipment failure, etc) and hope for the best. If none of the aforementioned happens, you have a few hours to sight see or sleep or eat a good meal before spending a week or so, socializing and eating hamburgers.
4. If you have someone working the booth with you, discuss your duties prior to starting the show, you don’t want to look disorganized in front of clients.
5. Check to see if your hotel has a microwave and refrigerator. Both can save you money on the trip.
6. Talk to as many of the vendors as you possibly have time for – ask questions. Many of the vendors have been attending shows for years and have invaluable tips to share!
7. Bring thousands of business cards- more than you’ll ever give out – you don’t want to run out.

Thank you for reading our first - NEW - blog post. We'll have more on this series . . . so stay tuned. Post a comment. Click a box. Let us know what you think or want to see.


Lauren said...

Thank you so much for the shout-out! You are so sweet <3 I know this year has been tough, but you are going from strength to strength, Kelli. I can't wait to read more of your posts!

Pixybug Designs said...

Thanks for answering the questions I posed! You rock Kelli, and I love the new blog! I will post the link in my blog tomorrow!

rockcreekcreations said...

Well, I don't know your circumstance for your sabbatical, but
i've found your blog now and hope you are able to continue. But I entirely understand delays between posts. Been there, done that!

The Hole Bead Shoppe said...

Awwwww thanks everyone! Wow! Such a great support system. Lauren, the blog is awesome. I just hope I get off these training wheels - soon. Stephanie, THANK YOU! You're amazing! Rockcreek - thank you so much for your support. I hope to keep everyone captivated!

Michelle Mach said...

Great new blog! What I'd love to hear in some future post is how you find the people who work in your booth for a show. If they're not already regular employees, how do you find them?

The Hole Bead Shoppe said...

Hi Michelle - thanks! We've never hired anyone to work our booth, we've always ran it ourselves. I know there are people who work shows in certain towns. I also know that LOCAL bead societies are a great place to start to find trustworthy employees. . . plus they often work in conjunction with the bead show and many times will watch your booth for you while you take a break, etc. You can always ask from your customer base as well...many of your "fans" would love to work for you in exchange for beads, etc. I hope I've helped.

AJ said...

Love the blog, it's so bright and inviting!

Michelle, I am a bead show employee ;) My employers have usually been friends or friends of friends. Because I live in Tucson, I work the Tucson gem shows. Vendors love having someone local because they don't have to buy me a hotel and pay for all of my meals.

Hmmm... Kelli, do you want a post on how to find, keep, and care for a booth slave, from the slave's POV? ;)

Pat Riesenburger said...

Love the new format!

The Hole Bead Shoppe said...

Thank you Pat, a real compliment coming from you! AJ, we're always open for suggestions for blog posts, would be happy to find out how to keep a slave happy...send away and I'll post it. I always have room for YOU!

AJ said...

LOL, ok, I'll write it for you next week :) It's something I've thought about writing for my own blog but it would fit much better with your theme!

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