Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Trunk Shows

Way back a zillion years ago when I worked for Forest of Jewels, the downtown store would host a client night.  During that evening a few select suppliers would bring their wares, show and sell them to Mr. Forest’s invited guests.  That was my first introduction to a trunk show.

Since then I’ve been involved in a few as a retailer and as a wholesaler.  I believe they’re a great way to make money and build your clientele.  Like many things in this life, the spoils go to those who will work the hardest.  Simply inviting a traveller to fill your showcase with goodies for a day or two is not enough.  You’ve got to make a plan, work the plan, analyze results, refine your plan and repeat until you build a successful event.

The most successful shows I’ve seen are either an evening event, and all-day event or a public all-day event with an exclusive invite-only component after-hours.  The supplier needs to be willing to spend the time, and it has to comply with his or her security and insurance requirements.  Your biggest suppliers and those with live merchandise are the first place to look for partners.  You can work with samples, but offering live cash-and-carry merchandise is far more effective.  Investing time and money in luring your best clients is critical to a great trunk-show.  If you make it a celebration with wine, snacks, live music, prizes, and pricing incentives then you’re sure to build a successful event.  When I say “build”, I’m implying that as you refine your approach and your consumers get used to the idea it can grow into an annual or semi-annual promotion worth tens of thousands of dollars!

It all comes down to this: you can sit in your store and wait for people to come to you, or you can go out and lure them in.  The bigger effort you make to provide an exciting experience for them, the more they will respond and the more they will want to give you ALL of their business.

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