Advice for Store Owners Before They Go

By Angie Landsverk

When Annette Conwell starts getting ready to attend a winter market, her checklist includes making a list of the categories she is looking for, arranging appointments with showrooms, and planning her budget.

Her preparation also consists of creating a list of reorder vendors and their locations, writing up the reorders, using a map to coordinate her visits with showrooms, and planning a monthly receipt of orders over six months. Her advice to a store owner traveling to a market for the first time is to “plan your spend.”

Conwell of Annette’s Emporium said some items store owners might forget to plan for or buy when preparing to attend their first show are seasonal items, bags, and Christmas giveaways.

Those who run their stores alone may wonder how to deter­mine if a trip to a show is worth it. “What percentage of your buy is done online and what is done in person at shows?” Conwell said. “Weigh the cost of the show and travel to your purchase budget.”

What Else To Consider

Janet Ferry of The Crafty Cat recommends doing the math on costs related to travel versus shipping. “Try to go on a day you are closed, if possible,” she said. In addition, she advises keeping stores open for regular business hours when at a market. “Messing with hours is confusing to customers,” Ferry said. “Let your customers know that new products are coming very soon.”

Sandi Liss is a one-woman show at SoulJourney, so if she is not at the store, it is closed. “I look at it as a vacation of sorts since I’m not in my normal routine,” she said. “During the winter months, it’s a bit easier to close for the week. Determining fac­tors are how busy my store usually is at that time as well as the weather in my area and where the show is located. If I can take advantage of warmer weather during the snowier months, why not?”

Lorraine Schroth said because it is only she and her husband who run Cranberry Boggs Primitive Country Décor, she usually closes the store for a week in the winter or early spring to attend a market. Schroth explained how she decides whether to make a trip. “It depends on the items that I want to bring back to my store,” she said. “There are a lot of oversized items that the vendors won’t ship, or the shipping is so expensive that it makes the trip worth it.”

Marianne Barker of Impressions of Saratoga, Inc., relies on her staff to keep things going when she is gone. “Sometimes we do trim hours to keep it manageable, and we do check in each day and are available through text 24/7,” she said. “If you can afford to close, the networking and inspiration of a trade show are irreplaceable.”

Donna McCollough said she has a great staff to run her store, Dove Christian Supply, when she is gone. She is also able to access their POS system remotely, so she can resolve or check up on things if necessary.

Regarding how to determine if a trip to a show is worth it, McCollough said, “I would just try to make sure my sales warranted a trip to the mart. If I could accomplish restocking via my rep connections or online ordering, I would probably do that.”

Checklist Tips and Advice

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