Qualifications to receive a buyer's badge are stringent. "Guest"
badges, to bring along a friend who is not a proven employee, have
to be purchased and are very expensive. Once they have passed the
qualifications gauntlet to get into the show, attendees are free to
wander anywhere and everywhere.
Sorry this response is so late. Just catching up on everything!
I too am assuming that this was the Cal Gift show. I was there and
saw Brooke and her beautiful work.
Margery, unfortunately times have changed and it's really really
easy to get into Cal Gift as a buyer. All you need is a wholesale
license (they don't even check it, it can be forged, I've known
people who have done so) and a business card that can be printed on
your computer. They no longer charge for extra passes. I know lots of
people who get in on "borrowed" credentials. Or get in with a friend
who has a business.
And to all those who mentioned talking to the show promoter... well,
I've been doing that for about 2 years now! They don't seem to want
to do anything to change their qualifications. I think they just
want bodies in there, whether or not they own shops or real
businesses. I do think it's hard for them to discriminate between the
legitimate interior designers and the "personal shoppers". There were
times when exhibitors were selling cash and carry out of their
"wholesale only" booths, and show management did nothing to stop it,
even when other exhibitors complained.
I know the kind that Brooke speaks of. They have an "interior design"
business on the "side" of their real job and they are really just
looking for bargains. These are not the type of women who will buy
these products at retail anyway. And Brooke is right. If she doesn't
sell her jewelry to them they will not purchase it through a retail
store, they will just find something else they like at wholesale.
They don't want to pay retail, and they won't. This is not a
judgement on them (I don't like paying retail, either), but I've had
"personal shopppers" at that show who have flat out said that I can't
sell to them because there's a store in their area that carries my
work and I would rather that they do business with them.
Now, with that said, here's a story.... Every so often I do sell to
some of these ladies. I'm having a bad show, a good day, I'm tired,
I'm feeling generous or they're really nice or it's a nice day, who
knows my reasoning, but sometimes I agree to it. It's my policy not
to, but every once in a while I break my own rules.
So, I sold a healthy order to a woman and her teenage daughter who
live in an area where there's no retail stores that carry my
jewelry. A month later this woman calls me for a catalog because her
teenage daughter works in a store and the owner wants to see my work.
I offer to send it directly to the store and the woman said that she
had been getting many compliments from my jewelry and was hoping to
show it to some stores to see if she could get some orders for me.
She was grateful that I sold the jewelry to her and her daughter at
wholesale. So, trusting her, I sent her two catalogs.
She has picked up 4 accounts for me in the last year! She actually
writes the orders herself from the catalogs, using the pieces she's
bought as her samples and faxes the orders in. Of course I'm giving
her a %, which she usually just applies to more jewelry. She
understood that she was getting a deal on the jewelry and that I had
made an exception for her and was grateful and respectful.
Long story, short (I know, too late!): Brooke, I say trust your gut.
If you feel pressured, don't do it. If you feel like it's wrong,
don't do it. If you like them and want to cut them a deal and you're
not worried about your current accounts in their neighborhood then
do it. I'd be worried that they might brag to someone inappropriate
about the discounts they get from you. It's a touchy situation, you
don't want to jeopardize your current accounts. And, you'd have to
charge them tax if they don't have the right credentials. Then
that's more work for you....