If you’re a designer or maker looking to sell to shops, exhibiting at a trade show can be one of the best ways to get in front of buyers. But with multitudes of shows, options and prices, picking the right one can be daunting… and expensive. Earlier this month buyers and sellers came together for Top Drawer, Craft and Home – three shows all co-located at Earl’s Court. We asked three Folksy sellers who took part to share their experiences. Here, Lianne from Mellor Ware reviews Home…
Trade show: Home
Reviewed by: Lianne Mellor from Mellor Ware
Sectors covered: Homeware, furniture, lighting, tableware, soft furnishings, wallpaper
Dates: 12th-14th January 2014
Venue: Earls Court (Hall 2), London
Cost of stand: £1,494 + VAT
Size of stand: 9m2
Who were the buyers: Trade. Owners of gift shops, galleries, department stores, international, distributers.
Organisers: Clarion Events
Footfall: 14,000 to the three co-located events (Top Drawer, Home and Craft). Although I don’t think all buyers visit all the halls.
Orders: Three from new stockists placed at the show, plus more coming post-show.
Would you do it again? Yes
I’ve exhibited at quite a few trade shows before and chose to do Home because I wanted to be able to meet a large number of buyers. I booked my stand straight after doing the 2013 show, in order to secure the prices. Home is a nice show as you get in via selection panel, so all the exhibitors were of a high quality. Orders wise it’s difficult to gauge how well you’ve done, because a lot of the time at trade shows you’re collecting details and planting seeds which will inform your post-show sales strategy and build your database of contacts.
The venue is really easy to find and the Home team are really helpful. You register your car before the show to get a vehicle pass, and then on the day you get one hour to unload. You have to have your own trolley really unless you want to hire one of their porters for £30 an hour. The venue itself had nice wide aisles, and there were lots of cafés and places to sit and plenty of nice clean toilets! You have to pay for your own lighting if you’re not in the Homegrown section though.
There were some huge companies exhibiting at Home, such as Alessi. Our favourites Mini Moderns were there too, along with smaller independents and lots of nice people in the Homegrown section (which is a subsidised area for new businesses that haven’t exhibited at a mainstream trade show before). I felt the right buyers were there, as well as people you wouldn’t expect, for example people looking to license designs, and students and existing companies looking for ideas. I did feel that there probably weren’t as many visitors as last year though.
There were lots of big names exhibiting, including Hemingway Design
When I was designing my stand I laid out the size of the space in my studio and moved furniture around until I felt I’d got it right. I tried to have my products right at the edge of the stand as well as on the back walls, so there wasn’t too much of a threshold to enter.
One thing to be aware of when doing a trade show is that when it comes to wholesale, a lot of buyers like a good margin! [The difference between the wholesale price they pay you, and the retail price they can sell it for. The higher the difference between the two – or mark-up – the higher their profit. Most buyers are looking for at least a 2.4 mark-up.] So know your mark-up as well as your prices.
As I was mainly targeting home and kitchen shops, Home was the right place for me and I would definitely do it again. The whole show was well organised and well marketed. I’d recommend Home to other sellers, particularly if you can get into the subsidised Homegrown section, as that’s a really great showcase for your work, and a good way to test selling your products in a new market.
[Thanks to organisers Clarion Events for providing some the photos]