In part two in today’s entries, Georgina Estefania shares her recent show experience at WWIN. Thanks Georgina!
This is my report from WWIN Show in Las Vegas. My experience will shed some more light on apparel shows. First, a little background of my company. I design and manufacture light-weight sweaters in Texas. We do our own lean manufacturing in-house. Two years ago I walked the MAGIC, Pool, and Project shows. I decided that MAGIC was the right show that I should be at because it had exhibitors that had similar products to mine. So I applied to show and exhibited there.
Things I was pleased with at MAGIC:
- I was placed exactly where I wanted to be placed, very close to my competitors, which are sweater lines.
- I wrote enough orders to break even.
Things I was not pleased with at MAGIC:
- The show management did not have the air conditioning on the day that we were setting up. It was in the summer time, and it was sweltering! Many exhibitors complained, but the mangers were aloof about the situation, saying they could not put the air conditioning on since the dock doors were going to be open all day. All I can say was that I had a torturous day steaming sweaters in the heat!
- The bathrooms were very dirty through out the show.
- The most annoying thing was the lack of what I call “quality buyers”, which are people that are actually there to buy merchandise for a legitimate store. There was a disproportionate amount of “lookers”, and people marketing their own services. There were also a lot of dishonest people that place orders, but have no intention of paying for the merchandise (they ask for net 30, or COD). Unfortunately I wrote quite a bit of phony orders. The good thing is that I never sent out any of the orders, but it was a pain in the… trying to get those people on the phone after the show. It is a real pain to waste time with people like that. On a side note, if you are at a show and see a “buyer” going from booth to booth and writing at each booth, chances are they are just trying to screw the vendors. Many new designers, desperate for the business, or just green, ship COD and get rubber checks, or give net terms without checking the references of buyers. See Retail Dish for testimonials about this.
One of the things that I realized while exhibiting at MAGIC, was that even though it is packed with people, most of those people are not “quality buyers”. That is the one thing that I had not realized when I first walked the show. At that time I was blown away by the amount of traffic at MAGIC. I naively assumed they were all buyers, but they are not. A lot of crazies there!
While exhibiting at MAGIC I was told by several buyers that I should be exhibiting at WWIN (Women’s Wear in Nevada). I had never heard of WWIN, so I went to check it out on the day they were open late. WWIN is held at the Rio Hotel and runs the same dates as MAGIC. What I saw there convinced me to show there the next time. The main difference I saw was the traffic at WWIN was mostly comprised of “quality buyers”, also the types of merchandise offered seemed more in line with mine.
I have now shown at WWIN twice and I LOVE it! It is very different from MAGIC. Here are the positives about the show:
First and foremost, the organizers are terrific, honest people. The first time I applied to show, Roland Timney (the show manager) told me the only spot he had available was not such a good one for my product line. I appreciated his honesty, but decided to show there anyway. Roland promised to try to place me in a better spot the following show. He said that with each show he tries to accommodate the newer exhibitors into whatever spots become available in the more established areas of the show. He was right that the spot I was in was not the best, however I did manage to see many more buyers than at MAGIC. I had a good show and signed up for the next one.
This last show I was able to get a booth in the more established part of the show, and it was GREAT! Wonderful traffic, quality buyers, great neighbors, everything right. The first day of the show I wrote 50% of my total goal for the show. I ended up exceeding my sales goal for the show by 30%. One of the great things about this show is that it seems to be geared towards creating an environment that will make buyers buy. I get the feeling at other shows (like MAGIC), that the organizers just want to sell booths, and don’t really care if exhibitors come back or not. Their dirty little secret is that they take advantage of newbie designers that don’t know any better. The people at WWIN have grown their show by treating the buyers and exhibitors well. A few of the ways they do this is by:
- Providing free breakfasts and lunches to buyers and exhibitors. These are really good lunches, tasty pastries and fruit in the mornings. It makes a difference. Everybody likes this perk.
- Having competitive exhibiting fees. The cost to show at WWIN is 60% of what it costs to show at MAGIC/ POOL/ etc, and it includes the cost of a room at the Rio. This is a big savings. When I exhibited at MAGIC, my hotel/taxi/shuttle bill was about $1,000.00. It is very nice to exhibit and sleep in the same hotel!
- The hallways to the show have small grid walls that exhibitors can rent and put a sampling of their lines on. What ends up happening is that it becomes a very quick way for buyers to preview all the lines, and mark whatever booths they are interested in seeing. This is a very effective way to draw buyers to the booth.
- The show organizers are constantly coming by the booths to make sure everything is alright. Talk about great customer service!
In summary, WWIN is a great show. I highly recommend it, however I echo an earlier post that one should walk a show before exhibiting in it.
I hope this helps some people.