Well it’s 5am and I’m bright eyed and bushy tailed. This seems to be when I get my best thinking in. I have to say I was a bit unsure when it was suggested to me to write about what I do to get ready for the market. I guess I just thought “Me? What do you want me to tell all these people who have been in the business for years what to do?” I don’t want to come across as a know-it-all be-cause I definitely don’t. So I took a few days to think about it. I remember being in 4H and going to my many horse clinics and my dad would say “If you learned only one thing it was worth it.” That is so true. I sat and went through many clinics where ninety-nine percent of what they taught me wouldn’t apply to what I was doing but, darn it, then they would throw in that one thing in the end and low and behold it was worth it.

So I’m going to tell you what I do and as I said above it may not a hundred percent apply to your store but I’m hoping one thing does. Of course I take a look at my inventory to see what I have and what I need. I used to make an appointment with all of my suppliers and have my whole day full and scheduled to the minute. When I did this I felt like I had seen nothing new. I now schedule a few appointments with my some of my major suppliers but I squeeze them in and give them a time limit that is shorter than what they would like. My philosophy on this is I obviously already like and sell their product so I don’t need them to sell it to me again, if I am happy with them of course. I also tell them I want to see only the new hot things. Then I move onto the next. I do this for a couple of reasons. I am there to expose myself to the next look, the next best thing. If I’m stuck with the same old suppliers all day long how do I bring in the new next hot item to my store when I didn’t have time to find it?

You need your down time at the show to just soak it in. I’m a thinker also; I really don’t do a lot of buying at the show. I sit, touch and soak everything in. I sit down either at night or in the weeks following to really assess what I have and order for my floor. I am sure my suppliers won’t be happy that I told you that. The way I look at it is that unless I am getting a smoking deal I don’t like the pressure they put on you to buy something when I don’t really know what I want or will work for my customers for that matter. Hmm…isn’t that funny! I hear that exact same thing all the time from my customers when they come in to meet after they have been pressured into buying something they don’t want by some commission hungry salesperson. Ironic hey?

If you feel the need to buy your main staples at the show do so. But when you are considering accessories and accents you have to buy them for what you putting on your store floor not because you like it. If you’re buying some pretty grey leather because it’s hot according to your sales rep then you have to put the right accessories with it to make it look hot. Now if you’re suppliers showroom is all sofas or dining with no accessories take some of your down time and find some of those showrooms that actually do some amazing accessorizing.

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Take pictures and refer to them when you’re walking around buying your accessories. Keep this in mind when you are deciding if you want to get into accessories. What is more attractive to you and your friends walking around at the show; the plain sofa in one supplier’s window or the other supplier’s window with the same sofa that is all “blinged” out. Do a secret test with your group and see which look wins. So if you see me at the show come and introduce yourself, I would love to meet you and give you a hand if you need. So go to market with an open mind, soak up the surroundings and if you have learned only one thing from what I have written it is that I will help you in any way I can. Good luck at market! Take care.