Since the largest percentage of product sales are made during the last quarter of the year, it make good business sense to exhibit in holiday retail shows.
We, as Tastes of Idaho, have done numerous holiday retail shows over the years. Actually, Tastes of Idaho started as a spin-off of holiday mall kiosks we ran over 15 years ago.
I can still remember all the work we did, running down Idaho producers, placing orders, and, in most cases, traveling around the state to pick up our holiday products. When we opened our kiosk store, we were several thousand dollars in debt and wondered if we had gone too far. As it turned out, we grossed over three times our investment and had an interesting holiday season with our fellow exhibitors in the mall.
So, what are the some good steps in putting together holiday retail shows?
- I recommend ‘walking’ any show you plan to exhibit in — which means doing this a year in advance. If that is not possible, at least try to check out some of their non-holiday season shows to see how they are run and attended.
- Contact the show managers (if you are doing a mall show, there is typically a marketing or mall manager you can speak with) as soon as possible to find out fees, regulations, and get your idea spot nailed down.
- Depending how far in advance you have made your show reservations, you need to accumulate inventory. Make a plan early on how much product you think you will need (and then, probably double it!) and get it made or ordered in.
- Most malls supply tables and table cloths or the actual kiosk carts. One way or another find out what you will or will not need and plan accordingly. And don’t forget to include/design/order some nice signage for your booth.
- Along with your inventory, plan to have the following supplies on hand:
- Comfortable shoes as you could be on your feet for long hours.
- Bags of various sizes depending on your product
- If you have a cash register, great! Bring extra rolls of receipt tape. If you don’t have a cash register, a cash box and hand written recipe book will work. Make sure to have cash on hand to change larger bills
- Tape — seems like a display or sign falls apart during shows.
- A partner or helper to fill in while you eat, rest, or use the bathroom!
- Water or some other beverage to keep you hydrated.
If you decide to exhibit in a mall kiosk, be prepared to work 12 hour days, 7 days a week for several weeks. You will need to keep your energy up, so rest and eat well during this time.
There are also region shows that last 3-5 days if we want to start out smaller. Most of the same tips apply for these shows as well.