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Your Business Commentary

Mike's often irreverent, thought-provoking analysis of the industry-- with an occasional guest columnist.

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Making My CHA Show Schedule

So many events, so little time.

by Mike Hartnett (February 4, 2008)

The show book for the upcoming CHA winter show is a little overwhelming. In addition to buying and selling 10 gazillion products, there are sooo many events, seminars, and workshops, it's hard to pick out what to attend.

So what follows is what I would do if I were a retailer or a vendor.

If I Were a Retailer.

1. I'd visit the Innovations showcase before entering the show to check out new products and make additions to my "booths to visit" list.

2. I would attend the "Buyer Seminar: Keys to a Successful Show for Buyers" Sat., Feb. 9, 6:30-7:30 pm. I've heard the speaker, Mary Liz Curtin, and she is excellent. There will be free food buffets in the main lobby just prior to the session and attendees can bring the food into the seminars for their convenience.

3. I would not visit the new exhibitor section until at least the second day of the show. Too many people go to that section first, so the new vendors' booths are usually swamped the first day. I know from experience I'll see more and have a better chance to talk to the vendors if I wait for the crowd to pass.

4. If I were a scrapbook store, I would take workshops that helped me expand beyond scrapbooking and expand the creative horizons of scrapbookers. For example, Search Press is sponsoring "Easy Embroidery on Paper Cards" (w008) and "Easy Quilled Daisy Cards" (w018). Both are Sat. morning.

5. I would certainly attend at least four of the nine seminars that are part of the "CHA Retailing With Excellence" program that entitle me to extra discounts on show orders from 29 exhibitors. (Click on "New Education Programs" at "Education & Special Events" at www.chashow.org for details.) The seminars look helpful in their own right, and I'll save money on orders that I would have made anyway.

6. I'd pick up a schedule of the interviews with the "stars" (Dee Gruenig, Sue Scheewe, Carol Duvall, Tim Holt, Donna Dewberry, etc.) in the CHA theater to see if there are any in particular I'd like to see. and hear. The sessions are free but seating is limited.

7. I would stop by the CHA Retailer Learning Center, co-sponsored by CHA and Crafters Home, to learn about in-store technology and watch the video of merchandising ideas used by successful independent scrapbook stores (ideas that can probably be used by all stores).

8. If I were involved in wearable art or "Fashion Crafting," I'd check out the "Fashion Crafting Gallery" and plasma screen in the main lobby; the "Style Studio" (finished fashion-crafted items by exhibitors) in the 700 aisle; the Designer Fashion Crafting display (themed outfits created by CHA Designer Member teams) in the 800 aisle; and midway during the Suze Orman pre-keynote reception will be "Fashion Runway Show ... Crafts on the Catwalk." (A keynote ticket is required.)

9. If I were one of those retailers who is hesitant to attend business seminars because they're so serious, I'd consider the lineup of Demo-Nars that combine business info and workshops.

10. I've attended previous seminars by Kizer and Bender and they've been excellent. If I sold scrapbooking I wouldn't miss "The Other 88%: Creating NEW Scrapbookers!" Sun., Feb. 10 12-1:00 pm. and "Marketing to the Next Generation of Scrapbookers: Millennials and Indie-Crafters" Mon., Feb. 11, 12-1:00 pm.

If I Were a Vendor.

1. Want an excuse to get out of setting up your booth and meet various buyers and vendors? Participate in the golf tournament the day before the show. Email CHA staffer Semo Sennas at ssennas@craftandhobby.org or call 201-794-1133, ext. 218. Last Thursday was the deadline, but if there are any openings left, Semo will get you in.

2. I'd attend the Exhibitor Seminar Sat., Feb. 9, 6:30-7:30 pm, to get me ready for the show the next morning. For a preview, read speaker Susan Friedmann's article "Seven Keys to Planning Success for the CHA 2008 Winter Show" in the winter issue of CHA's Portfolio, recently mailed to members. There will be a free food buffet in the lobby and the food can be brought into the seminar.

3. I'd visit the sold out License & Design section where I know I'll see and meet some excellent designers who are eager to form license agreements with manufacturers. There's a welcome area at the section entrance to help direct any visitors.

Everyone.

1. If I had anything to do with products made overseas, whether I import them or sell them in a store, I'd attend "Consumer Product Safety: The New American Crisis" (S133) presented by Nancy Harvey Steorts, former chair of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. (It's Tues., Feb. 12, 9:15-10:00 am.)

The way states are considering legislation, Congress is getting involved, and consumers are wary, making a mistake with an imported item could ruin a business.

2. If I particularly liked a speaker, I'd stop at the Barnes & Noble bookstore in the convention center to see if the speaker had published any books.

3. If I had a suggestion, complaint, or question about the show or the association, I'd stop by the CHA booth in the lobby the first three days of the show and talk to a board member.

4. I would check the "Consulting Series" in the show book and sign up for free, half-hour sessions with experts in areas I need help in (customer service, niche marketing, merchandising, etc.).

5. I would attend Suze Orman's keynote speech. These events can be a crap shoot. Malcolm Gladwell, author of The Tipping Point speaking about how trends start and spread, was fabulous; Phyllis George put me to sleep; Henry Winkler, Barbara Bush, and Tim Sanders were charming; and Martha Stewart was, uh, disappointing. But I've seen enough of Orman on tv to think she'll be worth my time, especially given the crazy economic period we're in. It's Sun. Feb. 10, 6:30-7:30 pm.

6. I will attend the annual business meeting Tues., Feb. 12, 7-9:00 am. I pay my dues money for CHA to represent me to the world at large and help my business, so I want to know what they're doing with my trust and money. A hot breakfast buffet will be available 7-8:00 am, then the business meeting begins. There will be a Q&A at the end of the session, prior to the opening of the show.

7. After three days of serious walking, talking, and listening, I'll be ready for some fun, and the "CHA and Disney Go Hollywood!" event (a private party) looks like the answer. It's Tues. Feb. 12, 6-10:00 pm. The CHA Industry Awards will be given out at this event as well.

8. There's a series of "Lunch 'N Learn" seminars on Sat., Sun., Mon., and Tues. You gotta eat, you wanna sit down why not learn something, too? There are seminars for vendors, buyers, designers, etc. There will be lunch carts outside the education rooms where seminar attendees can buy a snack or lunch to bring into the room.

9. Two of those "Lunch 'N Learn" seminars are "Hispanic Marketing 201: Segmenting the Hispanic Craft Market Beyond the Basics" on Monday and "Building Your Business with Multi-cultural Marketing" on Tuesday. If ever there was a time our industry needs to reach out beyond white, middle-class women, this is it.

10. Another Tuesday "Lunch 'N Learn" seminar is "Turning Consumers into Fanatics: Fashion and Lifestyle Crafting" featuring the latest results of CHA's Attitude & Usage Study. (This seminar is free to all members.)

Why Walk the Entire Show.

Because the show is categorized, don't assume everything you need to see is in one area of the show floor. A good example is Morex's Ribbon To Bead line. That's a line worthy of consideration for retailers who sell jewelrymaking and/or scrapbooking.

You don't sell, say, needlework or scrapbooking? You still ought to walk those aisles to see trends in color, packaging, difficulty of the projects, etc.

A Final Note.

I've said it before, but I think it bears repeating: When I first graduated from college, I taught English and Speech at a high school in Peoria, IL. On parent-teacher nights, the parents of the "A" students were always there. The parents of the "F" students, the ones I really needed to talk to, never attended.

Years later I conducted seminars at our trade shows ("Writing a Store Newsletter," "Low-Cost Publicity Techniques," etc.) The retailers who attended were excellent, and probably didn't learn that much from me. Many of the retailers who ignored the business seminars because they weren't as much fun as workshops are now out of business.

Ok, so that's what I'd attend if I were a retailer or an exhibitor. The problem is, I'm a journalist and should attend ALL of those things, plus talk to every exhibitor. How am I going to do that?

(Note: The complete show schedule and registration information is available at www.chashow.org.)

xxx

 

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