Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

Trunk shows?

Hi Folks, Lacking a permanent retail presence, my income is limited
by a shortage of selling opportunities. I’ve heard about “trunk
shows” and am curious about how they work. What can anyone tell me
about them? How do you go about arranging one, how do you actually
show/display your work, how does the financial arrangement work,

Thanks in advance for any insight!

Dave Sebaste
Sebaste Studio and
Carolina Artisans’ Gallery
Charlotte, NC (USA)

Hello Dave Sebaste,

I've heard about "trunk shows" and am curious about how they work.
What can anyone tell me about them? How do you go about arranging
one, how do you actually show/display your work, how does the
financial arrangement work, etc.? 
Trunk show translates into "Tupperware party" for all practical

purposes. (Those who sell clothing at home parties call them trunk
shows.) The hostess invites the guests, provides the location and
refreshments, and usually “earns” points for each xx$ spent by her
guests in orders. The hostess can redeem her points for prizes or
use them toward buying from the dealer. The dealer puts on the
event (including entertainment and games with prizes), takes orders,
keeps the books, fills the orders, and “pays” points to the hostess.
Many times each show booked by a guest at the party earns the
hostess additional prizes/points. Not a bad way to go - especially
if you have contacts who want to be a hostess. It’s good to spread
the party appointments out with one/community initially, so that
subsequent bookings face little competition. There are a couple
women in the Kansas City area who have gotten into this and are
apparently quite successful. I believe that they purchase jewelry
for resale. Women who buy a certain quantity of jewelry, can
qualify to be representatives. Their jewelry is then displayed as
samples (to illustrate the very glossy catalog) at the parties that
the reps set up. If you want more info, contact me offline. Judy in

Judy M. Willingham, R.S.
Biological and Agricultural Engineering
237 Seaton Hall
Kansas State University
Manhattan KS 66506
(785) 532-2936

Hi, Dave. I’ve done several trunk shows in which I get to be the
featured guest for the day or weekend in a retail shop. The shops
have typically been shops that I already had a consignment or
wholesale relationship with. I have found that it’s a good idea to
do a trunk show in conjunction with a store sale or anniversary
celebration or a local event downtown or whatever. I bring in pieces
that are above and beyond what they already had of mine on display
(either newer fresher work or more high end than they would normally
carry of mine). I’ve done several with art gallery/gift shop type
places, but the most lucrative ones were at a women’s boutique that
sells all natural fiber clothing in a very unique style that really
complements my style of contemporary jewelry. There I don’t
typically sell many high end pieces, but the $30 silver benchmade
earrings fly out the door in droves. Sales are better than just
putting the work in the shop because people perceive that they are
seeing more and better work than they would otherwise, and they get
to meet and talk with the artist, which is always a plus. Sometimes
depending upon the arrangement I might even bring in a little
hammering or wire work or whatever. People love to see some tools
and let their kids watch you hammer. Anyway, the shops keep a
percentage of the sales usually according to whatever our usual
arrangement is (50% for wholesale and 30 to 40% to them for
consignment), and they do all the advertising and promotion before
hand. They clear out an area of the store for me to set up my own
display similar to what I would do for an art festival but on a
smaller scale. I do this about five or six times a year, which is
almost as many art shows that I do a year. I hope this helps.

ginger meek allen Little Cottage Studio one woman…in her laundry
room…hammering and soldering…while her children sleep
Wake Forest, NC, USA

Haveing done “Trunk Shows” for years, The best way I know is setting
a date for a weekend show. Use direct mail via postcard of the
artists work to stores proven mailing list of customers. Place ad in
local newspaper and send press releases to all the local papers.
Invite Art critic or columnist to attend. Make a Friday Night
opening with wine/cheese etc. I usually display the work in my
regular cases but thats up to you. Financially the work is sold at
retail and 50/50 is the usual split. The artist makes an investment
in time and lodging and the gallery invests in PR and promotion. If
possible a personal phone call to the stores best customers to set
appointments to meet the artist is always a good idea. If you get a
3% responseto a mailing your doing well. Good Luck.

There’s more to trunk shows than that. In (another) previous
lifetime, I was a buyer in a chain of department stores. There were a
number of vendors who would travel the country with ‘trunks’ or
showcases of jewelry and set up for a day or two or weekend and
peddle their goods.

One can arrange this with the fine jewelry buyer or the fine fashion
jewelry (bridge department) buyer.

The most important item for you, as a vendor, is to make sure that
they spend a sufficient amount on advertising and publicity. ALSO,
security is CRITICAL!!! (Because the publicity is announcing to the
WORLD that you are going to be there with your valuable goodies.)

David Barzilay, Lord of the Rings