My Trade Show Experience: National Stationery Show
So this post has been a long time coming, but after doing my second trade show this year and getting to meet a lot of great people and gaining feedback on my crochet kits, I've been figuring out how trade shows may fit into the future for The Pudgy Rabbit. So here's my overview of the 2015 National Stationery Show.
NSS was my first foray into the trade show world and to be honest, it was pretty overwhelming. I had just started getting into doing some wholesale orders when I had met one of their sales managers while doing a craft show in Brooklyn. I had thought the show was just for stationery and paper products, but there was also a Creative Arts section where it seemed my kits would be a good fit. NSS is really large show, taking place at the Javits Center in NYC and has been around for many years and looked to attract diverse buyers that would be interested in my crochet kits.
After doing some more research, I decided to take a chance and test the waters. I knew the expenses of doing a trade show were high, but since the show was in NYC and fortunately I'm located right outside of the city and have family who live there, I figured I already had leg up on not having to ship anything and could stay with relatives during the show.
I ended up with a small corner booth, 5' by 10', located near one of the hall entrances, which was nice. To help cut down on some of the expenses, I designed my own booth and built my own walls with the help of my dad. I purchased all the materials I needed at Home Depot and it ended up costing about $300 for everything. The walls had to be completely taken apart to fit everything into my car and drive them to the show, but we made it!
One thing to note is the show had a rule about not allowing the use of a dolly with more than two wheels to move your booth materials into the show. My booth was manageable so we could just carry everything in by hand since my walls were not built beforehand.
That being said, we also showed up a few days before the show began and had plenty of time to set everything up and build the walls. I'm so glad we had that extra time because even though there is a move in area where you can pull your car up and unload, the Javits Center is HUGE, and depending on where your booth is, you can still have quite the walk.
My booth happened to not be that close to the move in entrance, but several trips and a couple hot dogs later, we managed to get all the wall materials and everything else to my space!
I decided to keep everything simple as my space wasn't very large and had my sign and logo laser cut from a company called Fabberz.
I also purchased some electricity for the booth and used a few lamps to bring some extra light to my area. Overall, I was happy with the design, but looking back, I would have probably added a bit more to the bottom of the booth to keep it from looking bare.
During the show, I had a great time talking to many of my fellow exhibitors and getting advice from people who had been doing NSS for years. I also placed several orders during the show and got a ton of leads, which I followed up with after the fair which turned into more orders. However, there wasn't as much traffic as I expected for a show of this size and it felt quiet at times.
Overall, I did feel that doing this show was worth it, as I got some really helpful feedback from buyers about my kits. For example, they wanted to see a box that shoppers wouldn't be able to easily open on the shelves and to see a label with an actual photo of the project. This was probably a sign my kits weren't quite ready for a trade show yet, but I learned so much from both buyers and fellow exhibitors and may not have reached that point had I not done the show.
On another note, I ended up making these updates to my kits and they've been well received so far!
I also submitted my coffee mug kit for Best New Product in the Do It Your Self category and was selected as a finalist! I didn't end up winning, but it was still exciting to be included along with all these other great products and see that others were creating.
It was also really helpful to go through the process of creating my first wholesale catalog and line sheet and experience what it's like to be on the trade show floor and pitch my product to buyers. It's always stressful to do anything the first time, but I'm glad to have done it and helps me be better prepared for any shows I may do in the future.
While I enjoyed doing the National Stationery Show, I don't think it was quite the best fit for my crochet kits. During the show though, some other exhibitors recommended the Craft and Hobby Association show, which is geared more towards crafts. I actually up ended exhibiting at the CHA 2016 show, which I'll be going over in a separate post.
I hope you find my show experience helpful and if you have any questions or comments, feel free to let me know in the comments!