The part of me that hasn’t qualified to attend a big trade show
since I became independent sympathizes with you on the issue.
However, the part of me that was an exhibitor at multiple wholesale
shows has less sympathy.
A bit of background here; When I was a young teenager my family took
me and my siblings to Dallas for the big regional jewelry trade
We went every year. This was in the 70’s. Show management soon
banned children under 17. My mother claimed that our behavior at the
last show my siblings and I attended was the reason why trade shows
stopped allowing children into shows! So, after that, we were
unceremoniously dumped at the big amusement park, Six Flags, while
Mom and Dad shopped the show. Show management also made other changes
that tightened attendance, which made my mother happy because for a
couple of years we met the local banker and his wife at the show
shopping for jewelry.
Anyway, while I know you would be one of those non-retail storefront
attendees who would be respectful of the exhibitors, my experience
as a wholesale show exhibitor was that most nontraditional attendees
were time-consuming and sometimes flat out deceptive. I spent a good
chunk of my hard earned capital at shows I attended to make
connections with stores that could partner with me to sell lots of my
jewelry. The only way I could make a living selling wholesale was to
sell multiple pieces, I had no interest in selling one piece at a
time at wholesale prices to interior designers, personal or executive
shoppers regardless of how much they loved my work.
All that said, I understand the desire to attend shows. I just moved
my shop from home to a small retail space last summer, so I’m
looking forward to attending my first show as a genuine buyer. Prior
to that, I have had several relationships with retail clients who
would, if I asked, sign me up as a buyer from their store. I haven’t
attended a show in a while, so I don’t know if it’s still possible to
do this but it was relatively easy in the late 90’s early 00’s. At
that point all they required was a copy of a check paid to the person
applying as a buyer, presumably to demonstrate they were an employee.
Since these clients of mine paid me regularly for work I did for
them, that was pretty easy to do.
I had a difficult time one year getting into the AGTA gem show in
Tucson. I am listed in JBT but I asked that my name not be published
in the book. This completely frazzled the person who was registering
people. Fortunately, one of my good clients was a major exhibitor at
the show and they made a call and I was allowed to register. So,
there may be ways of getting around the strict buyers registration
process if you are creative and really want to go. I hope you get to
Proud owner of Virtuoso Jewels in downtown Apex NC since July 2013