Challenges, problems, and triumphs
-- from a manufacturer's perspective.
Suggestions for the CHA Show
How to attract more buyers and exhibitors.
by Randy & Edna Morton, Coronado Island designs & stamps
(March 3, 2008)
As one of the smaller exhibitors (10 x 20 booth) at the winter
2008 CHA, we see that the participation in CHA is in a declining
mode. Our location was very good, near a lot of popular companies.
But for the third year in a row, there was a decline in the number
of actual buyers and an increase in the number of non-buyers, which
include non-exhibiting manufacturers, professional designers,
students, guests, and craft demonstrators or instructors. The
non-buyer groups take a lot of time in our booth and use up a lot of
our make-it/take-it space. There was also a decline in the number of
exhibitors and the size of the booths.
This will be our 10th CHA winter show and we've exhibited a few
times at the summer show. The first five years there was a steady
increase in buyers and in sales for our company. Then, there seemed
to be a plateau for a few years and now there's a steady decline in
buyers for the last three years. Yet in the last five years, the
cost in doing the CHA shows and being a member of CHA has steadily
increased. In our first five years of exhibiting, we averaged in
gross sales five times our expenses for doing the show. In the last
five years our ratio of sales has dropped to only twice our show
Our company participates in other trade shows around the country,
an example being the Hobby Expo shows. Their costs are more
than 50% less than CHA show costs. Therefore, it appears that CHA,
since the takeover of the summer show, is stretched a little thin
and is not keeping up with the needs of the little companies –
who, I believe, make up more than 70% of the membership of CHA.
At this last show, we got a fair share of the actual buyers who
showed up. Knowing that new products and, in our case, new stamps,
bring in the sales, we had a nice offering of new images. We also
had a new product, Stamps that Fly, which helped keep our
booth busy. In this respect I agree with your comment that new
products attract buyers, but only if there are actual buyers to sell
We send a newsletter monthly to the retail stores who purchase
from us. We polled our customers to see if they would be attending
CHA; most said they were not. The reason most gave was that it cost
They also said they will wait till the show is closer to them
like the summer CHA (which is really a six-or-seven-state regional),
or when the winter CHA Show moves to a closer city.
Here are some ideas that I think could keep CHA revitalized for
1. Buyer participation is the key; there needs to be a way to
get them to come to CHA. The retail stores need to see what they are
missing. Set up a way for them to see last year's CHA through a DVD
or streaming video on the Internet. I am open for any new novel
approach to get the buyers interested in going to the show.
2. Limit the amount of non-buyers in attendance per retail
3. Set up a "Buyers Only" day, maybe Sunday. That
way they will get exclusive attention in the booth.
4. With the decline in exhibitors, reduce the cost of booth
space by 30% to improve exhibitor attendance.
5. Have GES offer a package deal for 10' and 20' booths to
include electricity, carpet, and tables with skirts, chairs, trash
cans, and a move-in and move-out cost with drayage included for one
price. Say, about 35% less than if ordered separately.
6. New product offering: Expand the Innovations area
and offer electricity for companies who may want to show a video or
movement of their product in their assigned space.
7. For ongoing information, send out quarterly reports on the
new trends in crafts and hobbies, especially on the retail side. As
a manufacturer, we are very busy with our customers and with
building our products. Keeping up with the retail side of our
business would be very helpful for CHA to report to its membership
quarterly. This would be valuable information that would support the
increasing dues that we are charged.
Right now is the time to be looking very carefully at how CHA can
help this market grow and come back, and not follow the way of MemoryTrends.
(Note: Have any suggestions to improve the CHA show(s)?
Email your thoughts to CLN at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To contact Randy and Edna, visit www.cidesignstamps.com
or email email@example.com.
To read previous "Vinny Da Vendor" entries, click on the
titles in the right-hand column.)