Behind The Scenes: Preparing for a Trade Show

When you visit an art show, can you even guess how many hours the vendors spend preparing before the show? If you have ever wondered what goes into preparing for a show, today is your day. I am taking you behind the scenes to show you what I did to prepare for Made In Montana Wholesale Trade Show.

Preparing for a show requires a lot of behind-the-scenes work, and making product to sell is just a small piece of the puzzle. Today, you'll see the not-so-glamorous side of it all.

My preparations for Made In Montana Wholesale Trade Show, taking place March 15th and 16th, started right after the New Year. First order of business was designing wholesale line sheets. You see, unlike shoppers at regular art and craft shows, who purchase items on the spot, most wholesale buyers place orders at the show for product to be delivered to their stores at some future date. Some of them just come to wholesale shows to see the items in person and collect product information and an order form, so they can order at their convenience later, when they have made a precise plan as to what to stock in their stores that particular season. Because of that, they need a visual guide, a catalog of sorts, as well as clearly outlined wholesale pricing. That's what line sheets do. 

Apart from line sheets, each vendor at a wholesale show needs to have separately designed wholesale application forms for potential buyers, as there are distinct rules that govern the world of wholesale. Also, each vendor has to have order forms that wholesale buyers can either fill out on the spot or take home with them and mail or email to the vendor at some later point.

The three forms I described above are just the business forms a vendor needs in order to sell on a wholesale basis. Of course, like with every other show, vendors need to promote and market their businesses and products, which means a whole lot of different marketing materials. Business cards, postcards, posters, press kits, and banners are just some of them. As a solopreneur with a rather tight budget, I could not outsource design work on any of these. So, off I went, spending hours designing my postcards, posters, banner, table runner... I am grateful for the two wonderful lady photographers in Texas who provided me with high quality lifestyle images of my jewelry. Without them, this would have been a lost cause.

Once all the materials were designed, it was time to find the printing outfit that would make my designs a reality. Unfortunately, none of the reasonably priced ones out there provided all the services I needed, so a bit of time was also spent deciding what materials to send to what printer.

I started receiving my marketing materials in mid-February, but that wasn't the end of preparations. Making jewelry to take to the show with me was an ongoing process between January and March, and sketching the booth setup-up, trying to decide how to best arrange furniture and displays, took almost half of February. I am not even talking here about reserving accommodations, researching places where a person with food allergies could eat during the show, and planning the driving route. Planning takes time... a lot of time.

So, when you come by my booth at the show this coming weekend, don't be angry if I speak slower than you imagined I do, and don't take it personally if I seem a bit tired. Quick witted or not, bright eyed and bushy tailed or not, I am still very, very glad to see you and talk to you, and if you want to make me really happy, buy some of my jewelry. I might even dance a little jig when you do.

See you in Booth 319 at Made In Montana Trade Show, Lewis & Clark County Fairgrounds in Helena, Montana on March 15th and 16th! Friday the 15th is the wholesale day, open to registered wholesale buyers only, but anyone can come in and shop on Saturday the 16th.

Can't make it to Helena? No problem! You can still shop on Buckaroo Bling website. Your purchases will be shipped as soon as I return back home to Kalispell.

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