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How Useful Are Trade Shows? Our Brain Squad Sounds Off (And Provides Suggestions)

Most think there are too many shows these days.

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I am a self-proclaimed show hog. I love shows. Peers are there, information on trends and always a good buy is to be had. Seeing new designs and listening to what others are experiencing in their stores. Seminars will also inspire you to take what you learned back to your store. Energizes you and you can share that energy with your staff. — Amber Gustafson, Amber’s Designs Fine Jewelry, Katy, TX

  • The speakers at JCK have really gone downhill. The educational events aren’t what they used to be at all. No Porte, Decker, Huisken, Geller, etc. Just little techy people that mean nothing. — Steve Hawkins, Sanchez Hawkins Fine Jewelers, Lake Havasu City, AZ
  • It seems that you no longer have to be a member of the trade to attend some shows. I find that very frustrating. So when I attend shows, it is for networking and workshops more than purchasing. I will quickly check out the vendors, but usually don’t place any orders while I’m there. — Doreen Vashlishan, Werkheiser Jewelers, Bethlehem, PA
  • I read your magazine, that’s my trade show. I work six and half days a week. — Barry Fixler, Barry’s Estate Jewelry, Bardonia, NY
  • Build shows around the “must-see” brands that are too complex and sizable for a sales manager to bring to a store. Or, big brands can band together and fly clients to them. — Steven B. Goldfarb, Alvin Goldfarb Jeweler, Bellevue, WA
  • It’s not about inventory anymore; we can see that online anytime. It’s about connections and education. Shift the focus of the shows to that. — Robert Mullen, Mullen Bros. Jewelers, Swanswa, MA
  • Trade shows are too expensive not only for vendors, but to attend. Vegas/vacation is the “dope” show for the larger stores. Smaller “group buying shows” are better for smaller stores. — Larry W. Hall, Baker & Baker Jewelers, Marietta, OH
  • Somewhat useful in regards to new merchandise … always beneficial when using the time to re-focus! — Thomas Piotrowski, Delta Diamond Setters & Jewelers, Plymouth, MI
  • The shows (if they are to survive) need more event status. Where is the value? What is the compelling reason to be at your show as a seller or a buyer? Does your show provide a good answer to the question what’s NEW? Or what’s HOT? — Alan Lindsay, Henry’s, Cape May, NJ
  • Shows are useful but expensive and overwhelming. Please treat us well, spoil us a little. And have a show in an interesting place; we don’t like Vegas! — Meg Rankin, J. Rankin Jewellers, Edmonds, WA
  • I attend the JCK Vegas show to see new designers and styles as well as our vendors. It is necessary to attend shows since many vendors do not support salesmen on the road. The “road” is just too dangerous today! — Laura Sipe, JC Sipe, Indianapolis, IN
  • Many years ago, I would attend four trade shows per year. Today, I only attend one per year. There are too many trade shows. If the number of retailers and wholesalers are declining, shouldn’t trade shows? In my opinion, the fewer the trade shows, the better. — Tommy Navarra, Navarra’s, Lake Charles, LA
  • I love trade shows. It gives us a chance to see what new things our suppliers are doing as well as there are usually plenty of educational opportunities. What I find the most valuable with trade shows are the limitless opportunities to network with other jewelers and learn what they are doing to improve their businesses. — Eric Stevens, Stevens Diamond Jewelers, West Springfield, MA
  • There are too many shows. Maybe there are too many jewelry manufacturers, LOL! I’m always amazed at how much all the jewelry looks alike in Vegas. Anyway, 36 years ago when I entered this business, it felt like the shows were “a service to” and “of service to” the retail trade. Now it just feels like show owners are trying to make money off of their exhibitors by running more shows, charging more for booths, etc. and the exhibitors feel compelled to participate. Advice? Ugh. — Valerie Naifeh, Naifeh Fine Jewelry, Oklahoma City, OK
  • Make the shows reasonable to attend. Four dollars for a bottle of water, pay to park at the show and crazy onsite food costs are part of the poor experience. I now attend smaller IJO shows and get more done. In addition, the exhibitors are so stressed that they forget that at the B2B level, it is still about relationships. — David Blitt, Troy Shoppe Jewellers, Calgary, AB
  • Very useful! Could not be in business without them. Besides talking to my vendors and seeing what’s new, I also check out the machines, the new materials, head to the educational sessions, see my friends, and talk to people who have more experience than me in how to try new things and what I should be doing differently. Since I am not on either coast, the shows are my way to stay up on anything and everything in the jewelry business and I would be stagnant without them. — Susan Eisen, Susan Eisen Fine Jewelry & Watches, El Paso, TX
  • Trade shows are great to find new product and make new contacts. The problem with decreased attendance may have more to do with there being so many available now. — Ben Brantley, Ben Brantley & Co., Shelbyville, TN
  • While I believe in trade shows, it is getting more and more costly to both display and attend. Also, not sure if this has anything to do with it, but, I think these shows are too big. As a result, they can be overwhelming. — Joseph Villarreal, Villarreal Fine Jewelers, Austin, TX

What’s the Brain Squad?

If you’re the owner or top manager of a U.S. jewelry store, you’re invited to join the INSTORE Brain Squad. By taking one five-minute quiz a month, you can get a free t-shirt, be featured prominently in this magazine, and make your voice heard on key issues affecting the jewelry industry. Good deal, right? Sign up here.

Over the years, INSTORE has won 80 international journalism awards for its publication and website. Contact INSTORE's editors at [email protected].

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