Displaying and selling your jewelry at a public, retail bead or craft show is a great way to do business. Exposure at shows not only offers the possibility for making quite a bit of money in just a few days; it can also bring in new clients, produce orders and generally serve as a marketing opportunity.

How do I get started?

You don't need to start your trade show career by committing to a large, expensive booth at a national bead show. On the contrary, it's smarter to start small. First, test the waters by seeing if people around you like your jewelry lines. To find out, throw a house party and sell there. If you feel good about the response, sign up for a table space at an office craft fair or a church bazaar. If that goes well, get a booth at a local bead society's show. Next up would be your town's craft fair. And THEN get a booth at a national trade show.

Which shows are right for my product?

The best way to figure out if a bead show is right for you is to attend it the year prior. Of course, that's not always possible. But if you can, it's a good idea. Each retail show has its own feel, so when you get there, trust your intuition about whether it would be right for you and your jewelry products. Next, see if there are vendors at the show who are selling similar product to yours. Do customers seem interested in what they're offering? What other types of things are being sold at the show? Will they complement what you have? How much are things selling for? Next, talk with vendors about how they like the show, how many years they've attended, if they make a good percentage of profits and how well the show management treats its vendors. All this information should help you make the best decision.

How much does it cost?

The costs involved with purchasing a table or booth space could be anywhere from nothing to $1,000 or more. It depends on the type of show, the square footage of your booth, and where your booth is positioned on the floor. However, there are other items you need to factor into your total cost. Transportation, shipping, insurance, food, lodging and labor fees can all be part of your end tally.

Which and how much product should I bring to a show?

This part is often still a mystery to even the most road-tested retail show circuit vendors. There are so many different factors in determining how people want to spend their money, it's almost impossible to get an answer. Some advice? Bring slightly more product to the show than you think you need. Just make sure you have a place to store it and are okay about bringing it back with you if it doesn't sell. Have a variety of items available--different looks, colors and prices. You'll also want to become familiar with the products other vendors are selling at the show so you can differentiate your wares from the guy who might be sitting in an adjoining booth.

Have more questions you'd like us to answer? Questions on techniques? Marketing? Please send them to asktheexperts@firemtn.com We'll do our best to get you the answers you need and to make all your endeavors into jewelry successful and fun!