I’ve already received a couple of emails from folks not too happy that I’m sharing all of this with you, and even some who’ve asked if I’m concerned that I might be creating my competition by sharing everything. Well, I’m in the business of following one very simple golden rule: Treat others as I would want to be treated. And while I’m not always very good at it, I certainly try my best. Not to mention, when I got started, I knew nothing and had to make my own way, figuring it out as I went. I have learned a lot along the way, and if I can save someone some stress by sharing what I know, then that’s what I’ll do. I also wholeheartedly believe that there’s room for everyone. There are millions of people in this world that would love to shop at whatever shop their little hearts desire. And even if someone had the exact same products as I sell in their store, there is no possible way that our stores could be the same by the very virtue that we, as individuals, are each unique so no two stores can be the same. I think this industry gets too competitive and I’ve never understood that side of it. I just want to do my thing and you do your thing. It’s hard enough being a human, let alone try to one up our neighbor, don’t you think?
Okay, now that I’ve got that off my chest, let’s get down to business.
I shared a little recap of my experience at Market in Part 1. Then I answered the Who, What, When, Where and Why about Market in Part 2. In this final blog post in the series, Part 3 of 3, about AmericasMart Atlanta, I’ll give my personal tips on getting the most out of your attendance.
The first thing I would do if you’re even on the fence about attending a market is to book a hotel room! I can’t stress this enough. There are thousands upon thousands of people that attend, especially the Home & Gift shows, and rooms book months in advance. I won’t go into detail about my hotel experience (you can ask me if you see me in person and I’ll make you roll with laughter) when I went a few weeks ago, but I learned my lesson. Book way in advance, and if at all possible, stay close to the venue. AmericasMart has a great section on their website providing plenty of hotel options for you to choose from. They’ve partnered with most of them to offer you a discount, so going through their site is the best first option. Go HERE and click on HOTEL RESERVATIONS, and follow directions. I kid you not, I already booked my hotel for 2017, even if I cancel later this year, I still wanted to book it! I do not want a repeat performance of this year’s experience.
The second thing to do is register ahead of time to obtain your Fast Badge Access email (keeping in mind, this market is NOT for the general public). This saves you time when you arrive at Market. There is a special section for Fast Badge people who pre-registered and you get in quickly! Go HERE to register yourself to attend. Trust me on this one. The difference is waiting in line through 100 people or walking right up to a computer, entering your information, being handed your badge and moving on!
AmericasMart even has a page specifically for First Time Buyers and it’s filled with great information that can relieve some stress. Spend some time on the page if it’s your first time attending. You’ll be happy you did. Go HERE to the First Time Buyer page. Go HERE for Buyer FAQs, which is also helpful!
A couple of additional tips from me that are super simple:
- Attending market is not for the faint of heart. It is serious business and it is truly amazing at the same time.
- Pack comfortable shoes. Period.
- Bring business cards. A lot of them. If you think you’ve packed too many, pack more. You go through a ton of them!
- If you’re attending Market in January, pack a lightweight coat (spring jacket) to wear instead of a down, heavy coat. The coat check line was always at least 25 people deep and I like to get in and get moving, not stand in line. I wore my lightweight jacket around market, even, and never had to take it off. Of course, if you think you can leave your coat at the hotel, then do that instead.
- Bring your cell phone wall charger with you. You are gone all day and the last thing you want is a dead phone!
- Bring an extra, lightweight bag for carrying all of those catalogs, postcards and pamphlets you’re going to be picking up. Some vendors give away free bags, which is great, but best to bring one, just in case.
- Keep in mind that not only are these companies great to buy from, but their spaces at Market are filled with a ton of display inspiration. They hire merchandisers to put some jaw-dropping displays together, so take notes!
- There is a Fed Ex on site and after 4 full days, I had accumulated an 18 inch stack of catalogs that I knew I wasn’t going to bring on the plane with me, so I shipped them all home to myself. **NOTE: Take a photo of each catalog before you put it in the box! I’ll be damned if that Fed Ex box got lost or destroyed, that was 4 days of my hard work and I couldn’t possibly remember all of the fabulous vendors I had grabbed information from! The box made it home safely, but I was glad I had taken that extra step to ensure my sanity!
- Study the AmericasMart guide, which you will find after you receive your badge. Not only is it an index of the exhibitors, but it is filled with some valuable information that I think a lot of buyers overlook!
I’m going to expand on No. 9 from above. The guide is filled with a list of exhibitors, yes, but it also has detailed maps of the 3 buildings that make up AmericasMart, detailed maps of the “Temporaries” exhibits, Seminars and Events, and so much more! Did you know that a lot of exhibitors give away free goodies during each day? You can get free coffee in the morning, sometimes free breakfast, free lunch, free ice cream and even free drinks in the evening? YOU CAN! And you can schedule it all by reading the front section of the guide!
It will list the exhibitor, the number next to their name is the Building Number they’re in, and then their location.
Some exhibitors take out full page ads and will state what they’re offering during market, so be sure to look there too.
One morning I had a ready-made omelet and mimosas!
Are you kidding me?
Now please understand that I am not encouraging you to take free handouts without having some interest in the vendor you’re receiving the gift from, but it is nice to know that these options exist, especially since you’ve spent a lot of money on air fare, hotel and probably in purchases for your store, so if you don’t have to leave to run to a restaurant (and believe me, the exhibitors want to keep you there shopping as much as possible!), then why not sit down, take a load off and let someone pamper you? You work very hard. Believe me, I know this.
Here’s another exhibitor I ran across offering a Free Frozen Yogurt Bar in the afternoon:
I did not partake, but I did go and check it out and it was complete with add-in options and sauces to choose from. They don’t mess around!! Another exhibitor was offering Free Hot Fudge Sundaes and they also had people walking around with shopping carts full of fruit: apples, bananas & oranges and they encouraged you to take more than one!
Some vendors even leave bottled water out for you to grab:
Believe me, after non-stop walking around day after day, bathed in fluorescent light, getting bumped by people, looking at every possible item & chatting it up with exhibitors, these little amenities make the whole experience a little more pleasant.
Also, AmericasMart does a great job of offering some fantastic seminars and exhibits. I attended four different seminars this time around and gathered a lot of great tips and information. I practically filled my notebook on one of them! Again, some of these seminars (not all) give away free items if you attend. One of the seminars I attended, centered around using and perfecting the use of the camera on your phone. You’d be surprised how many retailers, even today, don’t know how to use their phone and post to social media! As we walked out, we each received a free, extendable selfie stick for our phones. Now I haven’t used it because I’m not big on selfies, but it was a great bonus (and I’m sure my kids will love it!).
Again, be sure to look in the guide.
I had a notebook that I carried with me and as I went through the guide, I wrote an outline for each day I attended and what I would do at what time, and where it was located. This way, I didn’t have to go back to the guide to try to find the information. It kept me organized because once you walk into those buildings and see all of those amazing products, it is very easy to get distracted and forget where you are supposed to be and when. Having the day written out made it much easier.
Remember, there are approximately 3,900 exhibitors to see! The following photo is only a sampling of one of the buildings, Building 3, which is mostly apparel and jewelry and temporary exhibits and there are hundreds of them!
And if you sell jewelry in your store, or if you’re thinking of selling jewelry in your store, there are “Cash & Carry” vendors in this area, as well. What this means is you can literally, shop and take home a giant bag of jewelry for your store, rather than ordering it and waiting for it to be shipped to you. It’s a great savings for you and you literally get to shop til you drop. There are rows upon rows of jewelry to choose from. They make you check your bags into a holding area and give you a basket, that you load up, pay for and you’re on your merry way.
I did not buy anything here because we don’t currently sell jewelry, but I wanted to be sure to show you. It’s pretty overwhelming. You better be sure of who your customer is and who you’re marketing to, otherwise you’ll go home with Dolly Parton style jewelry when you really meant to go home with Princess Diana. The spectrum of offerings is truly that broad.
I also took a short video showing all of the retailers pouring in on Saturday morning ready to get to work. *NOTE: Keep in mind when watching that this is 1 door of only 1 of the 3 buildings to get in to Market, and it’s only under 2 minutes. It’s like this most of the day!
Now that I’ve given you a ton of information, it still may not answer all of your questions about attending AmericasMart Atlanta, so feel free to visit THEIR WEBSITE and browse around. They’ve even put out a blog post of their own called “How to Shop AmericasMart Atlanta” that’s worth a read.
There’s something for everyone at Market so I have no doubt you’ll find a lot of incredible things when you get there.
And most importantly, please remember how lucky you are to shop for a job. It really is quite fun to be the curator of your own collection of goodies to offer customers that come in to see you. So have some fun, too, while you’re there. If you have any other questions or just want to let me know if this was helpful to you, please feel free to leave a comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m always happy to chat with you!
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