Surviving my first wholesale craft show.
Part 1: Deciding to do the show.
So, as I was looking through Arts/Craft Show application deadlines online, I found the application for the "Buyer’s Market of American Craft" (BMAC) at the Philadelphia Convention Center. The jury fee was $10.00 and I decided to apply along with several other applications that I was submitting. The show dates were February 12, 2010 thru February 15, 2010. The date of my application: January 13, 2010!!! One month before the show. YIKES!!
So, on January 14, 2010, I received the acceptance letter for the show and my first introduction to the amazing Laura Bamburak: Mixed Media, Wearable Fiber & Accessories Manager for the Rosen Group. She was my ‘handler’ for the Buyer’s Market. My first thought upon reading the acceptance letter, “Oh crap….now what? Am I really ready to try my hand at wholesale?” Kicking myself for not applying a heck of a lot earlier, I now had about 2 days to decide if I’m doing the show, 8 days to commit to lighting, booth accessories/design, and a month to have items ready to wholesale. Knocked the idea around with my husband for about 24 hours. Slept on the idea. Thought about the financial cost (these shows aren’t cheap!) and what other things I really needed to purchase for my business. But, I figured that this was an investment and a chance to meet new buyers and build long-term relationships. So, it sounds crazy, but with a month to go until the show, I was going to do it!
Laura was awesome. She called me at home the following day, probably aware that a first-time exhibitor feels extremely overwhelmed. At the beginning of the conversation, she mentioned that a lot of first-time exhibitors come to the show as a visiting artist and that this option was available to me if I wanted to join the program. In the back of my mind, I’m thinking maybe she’s right, maybe I should wait and try this next year …..but we kept talking. She asked me questions about my business, what I would be wholesaling and what sort of shows I’d done in the past. We talked for nearly a half-hour via phone and she said the words I needed to hear “I’ve worked with a lot of artists over the years, and you really seem to have a good handle on your business. I think you could do the show this year, if you feel ready.” And, I did. I jumped right in. I paid my booth fee. And, once the booth fees were paid, I was committed. I knew I had to work quickly to get things lined up for the show. Now comes the hard part….getting prepared for doing my first wholesale show. That's on it's way in Part 2.
Next Up: Part 2 : My initial Questions.Part 4: Other 'notables' and observations
Read Part 5: Pictures from February 2010 BMAC and additional advice from 'those in the know'