I am a life long retailer. I am currently selling at in person events, and at my online boutique The Bling Thing. People ask me all the time about attending trade shows, and the benefits to a small business in visiting them. I personally have found a lot of value in attending the smaller, regional trade shows.
The number one reason is that they are more affordable! They are cheaper to get to because of things like lower fuel expense, the ability in some cases to get in and out in a day so no hotel expense, lower costs for airfare, and just lower expenses overall. Also, you have the added benefit of being closer to your store. This helps with freight expenses to have things shipped to you. Customers don’t realize how expensive freight costs are. They are used to the Amazon free shipping model. We as retailers never get free shipping when merchandise is sent to us. I guess I should qualify this statement and say that we get free shipping on volume orders. We have to order a significant amount to receive free shipping from the wholesale companies. If the company is closer to our boutiques, it costs us less to ship.
It is also nice to attend the smaller trade shows because you can touch base with sales reps who may represent a bunch of vendors that you may be interested in. In many cases they will come visit you between shows, and give you catalogs, and lists of possible new items to offer at your store to subsidize your store offerings between shows.
I have also found some really good items to sell that aren’t allready heavily marketed online by my competition at these shows as well. The smaller wholesalers can’t always attend the bigger shows, and for me that is less competition. Nothing sucks more than finding something great, investing deep, and then having it bust online because every other company is offering it and tanking the price.
I have also found that the wholesalers at the smaller shows are more appreciative of our business, and seem to be more personable. They seem to appreciate my orders more, and seem more open to giving me better pricing, terms, etc
I love the smaller wholesale trade shows! I think you will find them well worth your while to give them a shot. They may fulfill your needs. If they don’t, at least you won’t spend an arm and a leg to get to them.