Small Business Question for You:

Would you be upset if your wholesale suppliers went direct to public?
Meaning cutting you out of the supply chain by offering to sell at 'retail prices' to your customers - prices which, inevitably, will beat yours.

Now, how about if they did this on the last two days of an industry trade show?
Unthinkable, you say? Unheard of? Not so fast...

Check out Suzi Finer's post on her blog today:

I was shocked to read this, but I can tell you why it's happening... trade show companies are doing everything and anything they can to survive. Shows are a dying breed, because the internet has changed everything about supply & demand with direct links to manufacturers. It's been affecting my dad's wholesale gift business for years, along with some of my clients and their industries. Having been involved in the Seattle and San Francisco Gift Shows for over six years, I have seen numerous changes - not all of them positive.

Trade shows have actually become a liability to many small businesses. Retailers are cutting costs, ordering online rather than traveling to order at booths & showrooms...saves time, money, expenses. This impacts the shows - when exhibitors see lowered attendance, and less orders coming from this venue, they opt out and don't rent space. Even very large and well-known companies do this - Katherine's Collection and K & K Interiors spring to mind in regard to the Seattle Gift Show. Lowered attendance by buyers and exhibitors affects the bottom line of the show producers...and if you're a trade show production company, you try to re-capture those dollars any way you can.

Addressing market changes and making adjustments is understandable. Going after the end consumer and bypassing your own customers - the small independent retailers that have supported your shows and made your industry a multi-billion-dollar enterprise - is a really cheap shot. Shame on you, CHA.

What are your thoughts on what CHA is doing?


  1. As a buyer I don't mind vendors selling at shows on the last days, many craft shows do this, as long as they are selling at competitive prices. If they are undercutting my price then why do I need their product? The more I sell of their product, the more I'll buy.

    Having attended shows around the country, I could go on and on about dilluting the show with a lot of inferior product in order to fill the floor. I'd rather attend a smaller venue that has truly been edited and juried to it's purpose.

  2. Anonymous11:14 AM

    The Los Angeles Gift Show last weekend was embarassingly empty; buyer-free aisles, by-the-door parking, and booth owners practically dragging the buyers that were there to their empty booths. From five halls a few years ago, to two (with the lower floor showing the usual cash-and-carry wares...I doubt it will be around much longer.
    Sad state of business.

  3. sigh. Remember how I said the Portland Gift Show in June was less than I had hoped for? There were so few attendees that exhibitors were ASLEEP IN THEIR BOOTHS. 'Nuff said.

  4. I just attend the gift show in LA last weekend. I was not blown away by the vendors, attendance seemed really down. I did sit and listen to Meiss speak from the Bulap Horean took away some very valuable advice. I just have to say I found your blog through Tracie and I think you are a goddess - I'm reading your older posts and am so inspired to make my displays so much better! Thank you - can you come down to So Cal?

  5. Bacchus, I don't mind that, either - but in that scenario, exhibitors/vendors are selling to other vendors and industry buyers. Not the public.

    What CHA is doing is basically opeing up the trade show on the weekend to any Tom Dick or Harry off the street, and letting them purchase product directly from the vendor. And since a trade show essentially focuses on brand new merchandise, this is circumventing the sales path from manufacturer to shop to customer, and allowing customers to get it before the shops do - even though the buyers have already ordered the merchandise.

    It just seems a backward way to do business, if your company wants to build relationships with industry buyers & shops. If you want to go straight for the end user, then stop selling wholesale.

  6. Anonymous12:57 PM

    The San Francisco show seemed slow this year, although there were some EXCELLENT seminars.

    The displays outside of each hall were the best I have ever seen there - they were clean, crisp, sophisticated, very professional; you outdid yourself!