October 24, 2007.
I have waited way to long to actually post on this subject. I got a lot of information and asked many questions to those that attended the ABC Kids Expo before I made my decision whether to attend or not. Drum roll please...... I am not exhibiting at the show, and I am not going to Atlanta. I did not want to jump the gun and just write about the subject, till I made a decision as to what I would do next year.
*Just a little disclaimer that this is what I heard, may not be what everyone heard. There are MANY reasons as to why I have made the decision to not attend. Been in business long, long time and would like to spend my money on other things - walk another show, have new website built, continue to grow existing business, write book, vacation with Oprah, rule the world.....sorry it's early I, uh...wish list.
Jennifer Buffalo of The Land of Whimzy (fabric and bedding), who I had the pleasure of meeting at Atlanta exhibited at this 2007 show. She claimed, " It was not a big writing show, and the consensus from the vendors right around us, they said the same thing. From what I found, there were 1400 exhibitors and only 1600 buyers." Not great statistics to me.
Joanie Perales, owner of Fairy Tale Jewels (jewelry) was also a first time exhibitor at the show. She was kind enough to answer questions about the show for me:
"What I did not like about the 2007 show is that they had competitors spread out allover the place. Some people may request to be far away from their competition, but I think it makes it more difficult for buyers. If a buyer is looking to add a jewelry line, to me it would save more time if all jewelry lines were in the same vicinity."
When I attended the show way back in the day (2004) I found the same problem. In fact, I asked to be near some popular bedding designers so that I could be near an area with lots of traffic and hopefully be an "add-on" that would compliment the bedding.
"I would absolutely do it again! I think repetition is key, just as it is with almost every other aspect of business. I think it is also worth it for new vendors.....you never know until you try! I met a lot of media contacts, acquired several new accounts, got a TON of leads, lots of positive feedback on my product line and made a lot of new friends in the industry." Joannie claimed.
When asked what the majority of the products featured at the show it was universal - furniture lines, strollers and baby bedding. This was my EXACT observation when I exhibited and London Edwards, owner of My Little Dish seconds that - she exhibited in 2005.
In the end it is up to each individual and each company. The order numbers seemed to be small, Amber Miner of the blog Starting a Baby Boutique & A Children's Clothing Line says, "Here’s how I feel about the amount of traffic they brought to the show: if I had just spent the same amount of time on direct sales & cold calls - the time I did preparing for the show, traveling to the show, setting up, showing, and tearing down the booth, - I would have picked up a hell of a lot more clients. I would have had more exposure walking into boutiques."
My advice to any new company that is considering attending:
- Check the cost of the show - A 10x10 booth with white drape costs $1,300.00
- Cost of booth - ours was $1,000.00, maybe we paid too much - but we had hard walls
- Shipping products to the show, and back - about $250.00 back and forth
- Remember the hotel cost - a quick search on Travelocity has rooms at about $250.00 (that would be 6 nights, they extended the show to five days, you need to set up
- Food - you have to eat - expect to spend at least $100.00 a day on food
- Collateral, sales materials, advertisements - our ad at Atlanta was $1,200.00, when we printed new brochures for 2004 we spent $1,200.00.
- Airfare - two tickets for me would cost about $200.00 each
- Samples for the show - I need to bring lots, so let's say I bring $200..00
Rough Total: $7,650.00, minus taxes, incidentals, booze (or not), gambling, product samples
Now if you are doing margins and you are doing the Math you better be able to pay for the show with the orders you write. I sell products that wholesale for $10.00 to $21.50......that is a lot of orders I would need to write - I could do that from the comfort of my office making cold calls. They do give the option of sharing a booth, something that was not offered when I exhibited, this may be a way to share some of the costs with another company. I do not claim to know all, and I do not know everything (though sometimes I tell my children that I do) however, I may not be where I am today had I not attended the ABC Kids Expo.
Exhibiting at a trade show may be a right of passage - it may be you have to suck it up and do it once. But I for one do NOT believe that you HAVE to be quilted into to attending or else- that is sort of the old school way of thinking. For me to spend conservatively $7500.00 every year to only open a few accounts - I could spend that on PR, I could spend on advertising, I could spend on sales, I could build new website, I could print new brochures, I could spend it on development....I could give myself a raise (kidding, but tempting).
I would suggest checking the Kids Today On line Blog and the Starting A Baby Boutique & A Children's Clothing Line (very honest and if you check categories she gives numerous posts) for more information on the subject.
So if anyone decides to go again, please let me know how you do and I honestly wish you the BEST of luck! I hope that it turns out great. And who knows, I may change my mind....I can do that can't I?