I've now hit two gift shows this summer, and I would say that these trips were a qualified success. Between the two shows, I place 16 orders, either at the show itself or within a couple of days of returning.
However, when you dig behind the scenes as to why you attend shows, I didn't do quite so well. For one thing, more than half the orders I placed were with vendors I already did business with. Some how show specials, but you can usually qualify without attending. And in some cases, I placed the orders at the show because I was struggling to find time to place them in between other tasks.
My problem is that spur of the moment buys can be dangerous. One reason I don't give my credit card out at the show is that I want to have a few days to backtrack. The other reason is that I don't want my credit card number hanging around the show.
Several years ago I placed an order for a product, a metal mouse, that I later regretted. I tried to cancel the order the same day, but the pushy vendor at the booth processed the order and sent it anyway. When my rep tried to make things right it only worsened them--she had the product picked up and never credited me. It completely destroyed my relationship with this rep--I will never order from her directly again, and yet it was only partially her fault.
PS--this was exacerbated in that this was a Canadian vendor. There are many pitfalls to dealing across the border if they have not set up an American warehouse or bank. You might have trouble returning product (as we did), you might get exorbitant freight charges, and you might get additional fees on your credit card. It's worth being prepared.
What I'm looking for is a new line that excites me, my fellow booksellers, and my customers. I think I found it at the Chicago show in the card line Black and White and Red All Over. It's a small operation based out of Pasadena, repped by a group out of Chicago with excellent (meaning suitably skewed) taste. The artwork is great, the copy is both really smart and hilarious, the quality is top notch, and the pricing is very competitive. What more can you want? It's a line that might not work for every kind of store, but I can't imagine it not working in a bookstore like ours.
I haven't actually seen the sell through on the line, but all I can say is that the way the staff is buying it, I'm fairly confident it's a winner.
Hello. This is my blog for the Boswell Book Company, located on the East Side of Milwaukee at 2559 N. Downer Avenue at Webster Place, Milwaukee WI 53211.
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Sunday hours, 10 AM-6 PM