In our last blog post we mentioned preparing for New England's largest show for sportscards and memorabilia. It's been promoted by the GBSCC and held in Greater Boston since 1985. For 2014, the 29th annual show will be on October 31st, November 1st, and November 2nd at the Shriner's Auditorium in Wilmington, MA. We are close to ready to go and thought we would discuss some of the things to manage when preparing to setup at a collectible's tradeshow.
Reserve a table!
When you are considering setting up at shows make sure to do some planning early. The first thing is to make sure to contact the promoters and reserve table(s). Very popular shows will sell out of tables fairly early in the process. It's difficult to secure a table later in the process although not impossible. Assuming you don't know the promoters well, you will probably go through a waitlist process where past dealers and early reservations will be given a chance to fall through, where the promoter will turn to the waitlist to fill spots that open up. Each promoter has different policies, but make sure to know them and follow them.
After you have that settled, next is planning your table(s). Whether a single table or a group of tables, you should try to envision shopping at your table and what you may like to see to help you purchase things. Inventory usually does best when grouped. Baseball cards in one area, football helmets in another and your garbage pail kids or transformers in yet another area. An additional consideration is your displays and what kinds of things will fit together in them. Make sure what you end up with looks neat and presentable for buyers. Tables with things just strewn around randomly tend to be confusing for buyers. Other optional ideas include offering free food, coffee, a small bowl of candy to attract some customers to hang around your table a little longer. You may want to have business cards or company shirts made depending on how serious you want to get as well. If you have a website always let your customers know where to find you!
How much is that? The worst question
The most important piece of table planning to us is having some pricing clearly visible to your customers. Either mark each piece or have something like all items in this box or case are a fixed cost to potential customers. Popular ideas include using stickers on each piece or having a box of items marked with "All items in this case are $5" to make things less confusing. One of the biggest complaints with shoppers at trade shows are tables that have no prices because it makes things confusing. It's especially confusing for them if you need to pause and look up a price for several minutes. If you spend that much time, buyers will move to a table that has things priced. Optional additions here are to help with identification such as limited print runs or significant notations such as an event or time. The more you can add in a clearly understandable way, the better your sales will be throughout the show.
Be nice and have fun!
Lastly, be as professional and friendly as you can be. It always is more welcoming to someone who may spend their hard earned money with you to be courteous and respectful to them. Make things fun and be enthusiastic! Welcome each person as they arrive to look. Ask them if they need help or if they are searching for something specific. It goes a long way to illustrate that you care about earning their business. It's so important, especially at a tradeshow where customers have hundreds of other options in quick walking distance carrying similar items that you are. Make sure to have change handy for buyers! And definitely say thank you! Thank you is big for repeat customers!
As always comments are welcome and best of luck if you are setting up a show sometime soon!