Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Weekend at AmericasMart


AmericasMart. Three bldgs. Eighteen floors each. I cannot even count how many showrooms on each floor. There's something like 8million sq feet of space, filled with both permanent and temporary showrooms, The permanent ones are open pretty much year round, while the temps only set up for the big markets that take place a few times a year. At AmericasMart, the biggest is the twice yearly AmericasMart Gift and Home Show. It is held in January and July.
I started visiting the Atlanta Mart back in 2003, when I began working for a company that designs balloons and giftware. The first time was absolutely overwhelming! I'd never seen anything like it. Showroom after showroom and more and more showrooms - all packed with their newest products, biggest ideas, brightest colors. I was reeling from it all.

But, as the years went by, I learned my way around and learned more about what was taking place at this downtown center of commerce. Retailers from all over the country come to Atlanta to buy for their stores. They buy gifts, housewares, clothing, furniture, linens, rugs, stationery, toys, kids clothes, bags, jewelry, luggage, shoes, accessories, art, gourmet foods, home and garden, including furniture, holiday decorations, both small and very very large.

Getting your products in front of these buyers requires a huge commitment of work, time and $$$. The risks are great, but the payoff can be enormous. If you have a great product that stands out, odds are good that you can get noticed. Be honest with yourself, if your product is just average, don't waste your money. There is a lot of competition at the big shows, but also LOTS of buyers that have $$ to spend. And finding the next greatest thing is what they are there for.

Before you begin in ernest trying to get your wares into a large trade show, you'll need to ask yourself some hard questions. Do you have the resources to pull it off?How many of your widgets can you make to fill orders you might write at the show? How will you manufacture the products that you'll sell? When you find yourself writing orders all day and fantasizing about that trip to the islands, don't forget that you still have to make all those items. You won't necessarily have to make them all by hand but you do have to know how you are going to fill the sales you might get. Explore your manufacturing capabilities before you take your first step into a wholesale market. Know your limits, your costs (ALL your costs) and your freight options.

NEXT: Setting up in the Temps.

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