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Editorial blog

Don’t get left out in the cold - make the most of the January trade shows

12 Dec 2017

Sara Davies MBE, Crafter’s Companion founder, looks at selecting the right products at the 2018 trade shows.

Christmas may be just around the corner but before you know it, it will be January and that means it’s time to start thinking about the new year’s trade shows. Whether you are thinking about attending your first show (which is always a little bit overwhelming), or you’re a regular looking for some guidance on selecting the best products for your store here are a few top tips.

Think ahead

Before you attend a show, it is important to think about the gaps in your product lines. What do your customers always ask for? Is it a more extensive stock of papers or a wider range of dies? Think about whether a popular area of your store could use some new products or a section which needs some sprucing up.

Thinking ahead of time can help you to narrow down what you’re looking for and stop you getting distracted by all the other amazing goodies you might come across at the shows. Having a clear idea of what you want to get from the show should also help to make the process a little less overwhelming, and of course (if you’re anything like me) it’s a great way to make sure you leave the shows feeling like you’ve achieved something.

Think budget

There’s a lot of fabulous things at the trade show and it’s so easy to overspend, so make sure you’ve got a budget in mind before you go. For each of the products you’re looking for, work out roughly how much you can afford to pay for them and then make sure you stick to it.


There are loads of great workshops and seminars at the shows too, so do some research into what’s on offer before you get there. Whether it’s testing out some new products or getting some business advice or tips from industry experts these sessions are a great way to get more out of the shows, so have a think in advance, plan your day and make sure you don’t miss out on anything.

It’s good to talk

Once you’ve picked your shows and you’ve done all your preplanning, what’s next? When you are at the shows make sure you take your time and speak to as many people as possible! Talk to the suppliers, ask loads of questions and really get to know the products you’re thinking about buying. You might even discover additional products you wouldn’t have known about by simply looking at their stand.

Give it a go

Interacting with suppliers is also a great opportunity to try the products first hand so you can test the quality and get to know them before buying. So, try out the pens, feel the fabrics, see how easily the dies cut – test the products out and see the results for yourself. In the end this will help you to make sure you’re stocking products that you love and it’s always easier to sell products that you’re passionate about.

Stop and think

On the flip side, even if you’ve been totally won-over by a product you weren’t expecting to buy, think before you make the commitment. How will the product be received by your customers and is there any demand for it? If you’re not sure how popular it will be then just buy a minimum amount of stock so that you can test the waters first. It’s better to be safe than sorry, so try to avoid impulse buying. Take notes or pictures (with the supplier’s permission) of products that stand out to you, go away and think about it, discuss it with your staff and your regular customers and then take the plunge if you still want to.

Haven’t i seen you somewhere before?

Trade shows are also the perfect forum to find out more about your market. Pay attention to how many companies are pushing certain products. Do you keep seeing a certain type of pen or are there hundreds of new stamp designs? This is often a good indicator of what the big trends will be for the year ahead, meaning you have time to make sure you’re ahead of the curve and ready to cater for customer demand. Your initial list is important and should guide your spending activity but if no one is selling what you’re looking for, then there’s probably a reason for that! So, pay attention to what’s going on around you and use it to guide your 2018 strategy.

On reflection

Finally, once you’re back on home turf look back through the notes you took. There’s so much going on at trade shows which gives you very little time to think, so give yourself time to reflect on what you found out. You could even write down any additional thoughts you’ve had post show as this will help you put everything you’ve learnt into practice. And, even if you don’t use them straight away, they’ll give you a great starting point when you start planning for the year after!

So, there you have it, my top tips for trade shows! Hopefully this will give you a helping hand as you prepare for the shows you’ve got on your list. So happy shopping and happy selling! (Oh! And, Happy New Year too!)

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