by Tom Triplett, Content Development Manager, Exclusively for Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®
The 2015 Bead and Button show concluded on Sunday June 7th. There were well over 300 vendor booths this year selling everything jewelry-making. Many of the larger companies in the industry come every year, and year was no exception. There were also quite a few new vendors and they were selling everything jewelry-making. Most noticeably for me was that people were buying a lot of gemstone beads in all colors, shapes and sizes. Seed beads were also very popular in every color. Attendance seemed to be pretty good, even though it was reported that participation in the classes was down significantly.
Wednesday - Meet the Teachers Reception
Something new this year was Fire Mountain Gems and Beads sponsorship of Meet the Teachers event on Wednesday evening 6/3. This event allows the registered students an opportunity to meet all of the instructors teaching at the show. It also gives the instructors a venue to display their work and possibly sell some of their own products, patterns/instructions, kits or etc. Our booth was right up front between the 2 entrance doors. You couldn't miss us. As a special gift, we gave away a very special deck of playing cards created by Phil S. in Content Development especially for the show. Each card had a contest design printed on them and what a big hit these were! Everyone showed up for a deck of cards. One designer recognized her design on one of the king cards and was so excited she came back to the show to tell us about it.
Thursday - Private Shopping Preview
Thursday, 6/4 was the preview night for students so they get to shop before the general public was let in on Friday. The earlier part of the day was dedicated to assembling the booth for the retail show. This involved unloading the pallets with all of the booth decorations and giveaway products and setting them up in place on the tables provided. The biggest challenge was storage space which we were limited to the space under the skirted tables. It took us about 2 hours to set it all up and so that we were ready when the show opened at 4pm.
Friday - Shopping Open to the Public
Friday started the show that was open to the general public. It's always fun to experience the opening of the doors on the first day. The doors opened at 10am sharp, the trumpets started playing Olympic-style music and the customers flowed in. Many of them headed directly to our booth to say hello and get their goodies bags. Some waited until the crowds died down. Either way, they made their way to the booth and we got to meet thousands of people throughout the show.
Here are some of the observations from our Bead and Button booth team:
''It was wonderful seeing old friends and making new ones. The show had a different feel but I can't put my finger on what it was.
There was lots of jewelry that was worn and yet there were lots of ladies with no jewelry at all.
I also noticed that more men were at the show and interested in jewelry making. That was a pleasant surprise. When I complimented a few ladies on their jewelry I was told that their husbands were the creators. It looks to me like this is becoming a less gender dominated art.
One of the things I noticed in product sales was that more people were buying gemstones. I loved the gemstones with an AB finish. I had not seen them at the show before. We sold gemstones with an AB finish on them years ago on some expensive faceted gemstones. They were beautiful and exotic. These were more of a medium grade of gemstones so they were modestly priced but still beautiful.
Looking forward to 2016's show and what it will be like.''
''Gemstones were hot! Even the booths selling cabochons which would normally have only a few shoppers were packed with people buying. The interesting thing watching the cabochon buyers was they were not necessarily buying the calibrated stones, irregular stones were being hand selected, laid out on their trays to create groupings of stones.
Mixed media is still popular, it seems like many people have graduated from simple cold connection pieces to more sophisticated work. Now they are incorporating both hot and cold connections in the same piece, fold forming, layering multiple metals and bezels.
People were working on seed bead projects in the halls, wearing their elaborate creations and buying seed beads. Shoppers were combing through rows and rows of tubes of seed beads and building color groupings on their trays.
What else was selling?
Chain, jumprings (for chainmaille) and sparkles (crystals).
One of the unique things about this show is the one of a kind designer bead, pendants or components that is available direct from the artisan.
While these booths don't have long lines, each item comes with a story that draws you in and makes the piece even more special. A shopper could spend a half hour just chatting with the artisan about their work and what inspires them.
Trends taking a hit this show--leather.
Last year you had to stand in line to get near a leather booth, this year no lines or people waiting to have their selection cut to length. Customers were still buying 1 and 2mm round cord. The wrap bracelets is still popular but with more gemstones incorporated into the designs and weaving the leather into chain or knotting 1mm leather with larger hole gemstones was showing in both finished pieces for sale or examples at the leather booths.''
''The show was busier on Friday than last year, but overall I feel slower. It was (as always) wonderful to see everyone and see the amazing jewelry that they were wearing. Everyone seemed to love our new bags--huge hit! Some folks had missed our booth location but were happy to find us and we've had waaaaay more Platinum Customers visit us than in past years.
All in all, it was a really good show for us and we had a good time seeing and talking to our great customers.''
What customers were saying at the booth:
The new bags were a hit; lots of customers referring to them as the FMG pageant bags. Other exhibitors/vendors referred to them as ''marketing genius'' since everyone walking the show had our logo emblazoned across their bodies.
They loved the discount coupons; many customers put them in their wallets so they wouldn't lose them with all of their other ''stuff.'' We had quite a few people say they had an open cart going and it was an incentive for them to go home and select a few more items and finish their purchase.
There were lots of comments on how wonderful it is that we still print a catalog--they love the actual sized images and commented about how hard it is to visualize the size of an item even when provided with measurements.
All in all it was a general love fest--they love our Customer Service Team, they love the employee pictures in the catalog, they love our selection, they love our website, they love how fast our orders arrive, they love how nicely we package their products, they love the packed with love sticker and they love the inspiration, articles and projects in our emails and catalogs.
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