Trade show booths


Thanks for writting.

The Pacific jewelry show is a wholesale show, with mostly
jewelry stores and department stores attending. The booth is 10
by 10, full side walls, and as my husband is a woodworker, I will
have him build my cases. I have not visited this show before,
which I realize would have been a really good idea if I knew
about it last year. What I am curious about is actual layout
(i.e. one long case straight across, or some other
configuration) and also tips on things to think about when doing
a wholesale show that the unexperienced may not think about. Are
people writting orders on a computer now a days? Do you have a
customer sign something to guarentee they want what they are
ordering? (I’ve been burned on this one before!)

My first year in business I only did consignment at jewelry
galleries, and I am looking to break out of the consignment
thing. Any other info appreciated. Thanks,


To answer your questions, trade shows, like the Pacific Jewelry
Show, JCK and JA, have the same booth size and configuration.
The show decorator who rents booth furniture, can show you a
variety of layouts with their showcases. At the same time, get
the exact inner and outer dimensions of the cases so that you
can fully plan the display.

As far as tips on things to think about when doing a wholesale
show that the inexperienced may not consider, here a few:

  • Find out if the show is being held in hall with a union
    contract. It can be a shocker to go to the New York JA show and
    expect to set up your own booth, or hang your own lights. They
    won’t let you.

  • Be sure to have a supply of your catalogs or postcards or tear
    sheets, whatever you are giving away, with your booth number
    imprinted (or written) on it. Shows can be confusing places for
    weary buyers who may not be able to remember where they saw you,
    unless they have the help of a booth number.

  • As you accept orders, block out days of production on your
    calendar so that your entire season is not limited to sending
    out 5,000 rings on November 1.

  • If you have a lot tied up in your work, and don’t want to lose
    it, consider using an armored carrier to deliver it back home
    after the show. It is a reality that there are professional
    thieves who prey on people carrying jewelry, including those at
    jewelry trade shows. At the end of the show anybody standing
    outside can see who is leaving and what they are carrying.

There are no guarantees that a customer will pay. But you can
screen new customers by checking their credit before sending
merchandise on account. You can look them up in the JBT
(Jewelers Board of Trade) Red Book or request and check the
customers references yourself.

Easing out of consignment? Offer to consign, dollar for dollar,
based on what they purchase.

Breaking out of consignment? Try, “I’m sorry. I don’t consign

Good luck.

Alan Revere
Revere Academy of Jewelry Arts
San Francisco

Alan, Having never done a wholesale show, but having done a
number of retail shows, I am a little confused by you response.

  1. Are you saying that you do not set up a booth at a wholesale
    show the same as you do for a retail show? We have our own
    tables, covers and display cases that we use in retail shows.
    There is nothing in the applications that state we are to set up
    any differently.

  2. If you are doing an order show, do you set out only 1 of each
    item? At retail shows we scatter the jewelry by a group of
    pendants in one case and maybe a cluster, utilizing the same
    pendant with other items that go with it, in another case. At a
    wholesale show, do you set each case up with the same items, such
    as all pendants in one, bracelets in another and etc.?

  3. I assume if it is a cash and carry show you would set up the
    same as retail as when an item is gone, it’s gone?

  4. At a show where you are taking orders, do the customer not
    pay for these orders prior to shipping? I have NEVER shipped to
    a first time buyer without prepayment. In fact most of my
    wholesale customer always pay by credit card.

Appreciate any input from all of you that do wholesale shows.
Barbara what about the Rosen shows? jb

J. Byers

hi phoenix, i see you really do have quite a bit to learn. i
suggest you manage a way to get to see a wholesale show before
you go to the show you are doing. the show in las vegas i
believe runs before yours. most wholesale shows do not let you
in unless you are a retail buyer with a store you are buying
for. if you can get a store to let you assist them in the buying
process you will be able to see the way it goes. another option
which is even you have friend that needs help at their
stand at the vegas show? you could help them out at their booth
and learn many ,many things about wholesale shows

disclaimer: I’m not an expert by any stretch of the
imagination…! The following info on retail vs. wholesale shows
is based on my personal experience participating in both retail
shows and wholesale Gift Shows (and Not cash and carry jewelry

Set ups for retail shows are totally different than displays
for wholesale shows.

At a retail show, you bring your inventory and sell individual
pieces directly to the end consumer. As you sell an item, you
get paid directly for it, and are able to give the customer the
item paid for at that moment. Your display can be as creative as
you want it to be…Your jewelry is displayed inside display
cases, safe from theft and fingerprints. You supply your own
canopy (most shows) and tables. Most retail customers expect to
ask for help when shopping for jewelry at a high end show. They
are usually not looking for anything more than something to buy
for Aunt Ida’s birthday present.

At a wholesale Gift Show, you bring just samples and take orders
from “buyers” who are retail storefront owners/buyers who can
(and should!) order many more than just one item.

Your jewelry is displayed out in the open, somehow pinned and
anchored to minimize theft, but still available for the buyers
to touch and feel the quality of your work. Many buyers expect
to be able to “buy with their fingers” - being able to touch
everything. They also want to see every possible combination of
color, charm or stone that is available…just saying, “That
pendant comes in 10 different colors” is not enough. They have
to see it in person. They are on their feet for 8 hours a day,
walking, talking and trying to make good decisions…the success
of their stores depends on having merchandise that sells!

To help them decide, your display should be clearly grouped,
either by line, group, type of work. Many exhibitors set up
their booths to resemble a retail store…with most everything
out in the open and grouped according to line. This type of
display also helps to show them how they can display your work

Buyers have 2 to 5 SECONDS to see your booth…just the time it
takes them to walk by. Their shopping mentality is much more
focused than a retail customer.You must display your work so
that it captures their interest in those first couple of
seconds. Your goal is to make them stop and look - and buy!

When you take their order, you agree on a ship date and payment
terms. I personally have a policy of COD on the first order with
subsequent orders on Net30 w/credit approval. I’ve found this to
be standard in the Gift industry. Some people will offer "terms"
up front if the buyer has a “credit sheet” with credit
references and bank Pre-payment (also known as “Pro
Forma”) is rare.

That’s the bare bones info on Gift Shows. I’m sure others have
had totally different experiences, and I’d love to hear those

I’ve never participated in a cash and carry show, I’ve just
shopped them. It seems that most cash and carry exhibitors show
mass-produced high end fine jewelry, with very little “art
jewelry”. Those shows kind of seem to be a mix of retail and
wholesale (without the sales tax!). Not my gig.

Hope this info is helpful…Good Luck!
Marlo M.

Since I am on the east coast Vegas is not a possibility. I have
been to the Atlanta Trade Mart as well as the Dallas Mart (when I
lived in Oklahoma) but I really could not tell a lot of
difference in the way things were set up. I have been talking
with Barbara at Rosen’s but she did not mention set ups being
any different. But thanks. jb

J. Byers

  I have been talking with Barbara at Rosen's but she did not
mention set ups being any different. 

Set ups are as individual as you are, at wholesale craft shows.
Gift shows, are more likely to have work hung out in the open, or
on cards, and this is sometimes done at the wholesale craft shows
as well. I have never seen fine jewelry displayed this way. Only
lower to middle end accessory, cast, or production work. My work
is displayed in closed cases, looking much as it does at a retail
show. Except for the small amount of production pieces I do,
there are no groupings of pieces. I need the work to look
expensive, (ie: worth what I hope the buyer will pay for it :slight_smile:
), and individual, and at least for me, grouping my work, solely
by stone, or item…bracelets, pins etc…seems to devalue the
work by deemphasizing the individuality of each piece, but for
others, this type of grouping, works well.

Unions are only a consideration, at a few large gift shows. New
York, in particular. At most shows, the unions are only a problem
for the organizer, not the vendors.

Just my observation, after doing these types of shows for a
while, (won’t mention how long, in case I’ve been doing them
wrong all of this time LOL).

Lisa,(coyotes dug a hole into the chicken coop fence this
morning, and made off with three birds. The little hen, called
“Houdini”…(for past escapes), is now busy sitting on a new
clutch of eggs…damn varmints!), Topanga, CA, USA