Sunday, January 22, 2012

Showing At Shows (part two)

Pomeroy Showroom, Atlanta 2012

While that first show experience in San Francisco yielded modest results, it was encouraging enough to go further, especially considering my sales rep (we’ll call him A.M.) was very patient with me, even letting me crash on his couch in the basement (with the dalmatian).
Trade shows are a double edged affair;  while you are exhibiting to meet customers and write orders, you are also the target of other vendors, especially if you have come up with something unique. It used to upset me greatly in the early years when they would come by the booth;  retail in those days was healthy and competition intense.  After several years in the business I realized that a good offense is more important and effective than a good defense;  and actually in our business there is no defense anyway;  there is no real way to stop someone from copying your ideas or designs.  
When I did start designing product (a year or so after I started), I decided to follow a fashion strategy; that is I would develop product for two major introductions (Spring and Fall), and move fast; ALWAYS.  The idea being to cover every major account that I had with my new introductions and get orders placed as soon as possible.  When a company moves at this speed it is hard for a competitor to keep up, and when they do copy you, they only have price to compete with and by then you have moved on to new territory (designs), and their offerings are, well, just knockoffs.
Shows are still as exciting for me now as they were twenty years ago.  I still become excited, emotional, nervous, and generally hard to live with, prior to the first show of the season in Atlanta.  It is, for me a fashion show and I will live or die (metaphorically of course) based on the reaction to the new product.  I love the honesty of the marketplace;  something good is really good and something that doesn’t work needs to be re-thought or dropped altogether.  After a market you always know where you stand.  So while there is always competition about, whether it is another vendor or a large retailers product development team; I have learned to rely on my product game plan, designed to keep Pomeroy unique and different, and alway, S P E E D!