StoppenLook's first trade-shows!

Stoppenlook Trade-show signWell, just back from back-to-back tradeshows...my first! Both unexpected so bit of a scramble to say the least :)

Upon my decision to enter the 2014 PEI Annual Buyer's Market at Confederation Centre of the Arts (here in Charlottetown) I got busy making a large display sign. I worried that it would come off looking too craftsy but I think it came out rather cute :) Then there were catalogues and info signs to make, frames to buy...oh my! But, I managed to pull it all together in a remarkably short time, if I do say so myself! 

The day before the trade-show, my very sweet and patient husband, Reza, helped me pile everything into our car and off we went. They were really kind and helpful at the loading dock at the 'Confed' Centre (as we call it here at home) and Reza and I were set up in jig time. There had been a couple of cancellations so, as you can see, I had a good sized booth. (see below) The next day, with my sister Marilyn along for support, we headed off to my very first trade-show... butterflies and all! (My other sister Sandi stayed behind to cook and fed us two tired 'showsters' later that day when we straggled home tired and hungry!) 

StoppenLook's Booth - 2014 Annual PEI Buyer's MarketBefore the end of the Charlottetown trade-show, I was offered a spot at ACTS ('Atlantic Craft Trade Show' in Halifax) pending another artisan taking her own booth instead of being with the PEI Collection of first-time trade-show artisans. I didn't have to wait long and the next thing I knew I was off to Halifax!

I learned a few things very quickly...like having comfortable shoes! I also learned to smile even though, at times, discouragement tried its best to pull my spirits down.

I also learned to accept the fact that it seemed most buyer's come with pre-determined lists of what they need and that first year exhibitors must be patient and prove their staying power. Over and over I heard from various exhibitors at both shows that the first year may garner a few sales but the true sales start when the buyers see you back in the second year, even more so in the third. These are hard dues to pay when you've put out so much time, energy and money to attend and you begin to realize that you will not be getting enough sales to cover your costs. But that's not the whole story and these ventures cannot be broken down into whether or not they were a success solely by their financial gain or loss. You began to realize that the true value lay in the feedback so that you can see what may need to be changed, what can be enhanced or more developed. You began to focus. It lays in the support, inspiration, contacts and friendships made...finding those buyers who are genuinely interested and excited by what they see you are trying to accomplish and taking note of who those buyers are and their market. I made the grand total of two sales from both shows. But I was "picked up" by The Showcase at the Confed Centre and they have proved to be a delight to work with. The other store was Barton's Toys...in South Carolina! (Now the learning curve for exporting begins ;) I am thrilled at both and also at the fact that I do have a number of buyers who would like me to follow up with them so I am still hopeful more sales may follow. (See ACTS booth below)

ACTS 2014 - StoppenLook's BoothIt is extremely hard and humbling to put your heart on a table, tag it for sale and have people walk by without so much as a glance. That being said, I am grateful that I was given the chance to attend. I learned a great deal. I could also hug (and did...most of them! :) my fellow artisans and artists, family and friends who gathered round with support and advice. It was/is so appreciated.

Today I will rest, tomorrow is a new day.

Let the dance begin...

Comments

First (of many) trade shows

Oh, hon - I could not be prouder of you! And, on so many levels. Initially, for the courage it takes to start a business. But, also for your creativity which shines through your art in its many facets, communications skills (including, but not limited to, an excellent and inviting writing style), a natural curiosity for the world
around you, and a loving personality. Wishing you continued success with this adventure and livelihood.
Much love, dear friend.

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