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Commentary: The Business

Jeff Unger: Please Feed the Animals

In fact, bring their products home with you after the show.

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I RECENTLY WENT to the Lincoln Park Zoo outside Chicago. As we strolled the area, I came across the sign that we see in all parks: “Don’t Feed the Animals.” As the tiger was pacing back and forth in his exhibit, I could only imagine what he was thinking. “Please throw me something … a small piece of popcorn … please!”

Then it hit me! What’s the difference between the zoo and a trade show? Vendors, like the tigers, are pacing back and forth, waiting for you, the retailer, to feed them. With one big exception: The vendors talk!

This past year, many vendors have felt like caged animals with a big sign above their booths that read, “Don’t feed the animals.”

Unlike tigers, vendors don’t have a zookeeper to feed them. They have survived this past year on the small crumbs thrown through the bars of their cage. Retailers have been unable to share their food, as times have been tight. They have saved what they have for the big attraction (i.e., hot sellers) and have forgotten about the old exhibits.

With the upcoming SMART Jewelry Show, the vendors are hoping that you will ignore that imaginary “Don’t feed” sign and instead share your refreshments with the old zoo regulars.

Without you feeding the animals, this zoo may not be around much longer — this zoo can’t ask the government to bail them out.

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So, please feed the animals. In fact, bring their products home with you after the show. Let your customers take those products to a loving home!

Jeff Unger was the president and co-owner of B & N Jewelry (d.b.a. Alisa Unger Designs) and a long-time INSTORE contributor. He passed away in February 2019 after a valiant 10-year battle with cancer.

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