Blade show exibitor - How to set up?

J S Machine

Well-Known Member
For any of you here that have been a blade show exhibitor, I am looking for info on how to set up my table. I finally got one this year, and this will be the first knife show I have ever done. Looking for info on things like something to cover the table with, hints on what to have out on the table, etc.

Any advice you might have on the whole exhibitor process would be great. I will be at table 23X. I know it is not exactly a spectacular spot, but I don't exactly have my pick as a first year vendor.
 

KenH

Well-Known Member
First show ever and starting with Blade? Boy, you're starting with the "big boys" now {g} :)

Be sure to add your table number to your sig line so we can find you at Blade. I've got hotel reservations and plan to be there. Not showing, just looking.
 

EdCaffreyMS

"The Montana Bladesmith"
This will be my 24th year in a row at Blade. Blade is unique among knife shows. It is such a huge gathering, and because it bring together the top makers and buyers for all over the planet, it's very easy to get lost in the crowd. If this is your first time as an exhibitor, don't get discouraged. It generally takes a couple of years being there before you get "noticed". I think it's very important to present only the very best knives you can produce. "Professional" is the name of the game.... from how your table is setup/looks, to your own dress and appearance. Be prepared for your voice to give out by the end of the day, answering the same question(s) a thousand times. :)

People don't just go to the Blade Show for knives. They go to meet the face behind those knives, and in many cases, how you present yourself is worth just as much in terms of sales, and the actual knives.
 

J S Machine

Well-Known Member
Updated the signature. I don't post here near as much as I used to, but maybe I can try to do so between now and Blade.
 

BossDog

KnifeDogs.com & USAknifemaker.com Owner
Staff member
recently I had a veteran knife maker tell me "You don't sell knives at a knife show you sell them on the internet. You visit with old friends and make new ones and you try to talk to as many potential customers as possible so they come back later and buy one on the internet from you." That is pretty solid insight.

other things in no particular order.
  • Have business cards out, encourage people to take them. Have your web site on it.
  • band aides on a table always get a laugh but also send a message you have sharp knives. Some one will need one at some point.
  • get a table cloth printed with your name as large as possible, not your logo, no one gives a hoot about your logo except you - ever, no matter how cool it is. Big name, small logo.
  • If you can get people to hold your knife to inspect it, feel it, bond with it, you will sell more.
  • If some one says something like "wrong color handle" say "What color would you like? I can make it."
  • If you want people to pick up and handle your knives (you do), put the handles facing out to the customer or at least sideways.
  • If you have a high end knife you really don't want people to handle, put them under glass.
  • sheaths out with the knives. if there are two guys showing similar knives for similar prices, the maker with the better sheath wins.
  • if you hate making sheaths it will show so get some decent sheaths made. See above.
  • free candy/mints on the table will get people to stop and visit at least until the candy runs out.
  • a maker sitting down playing on his phone always has a worse show than the guy standing up, looking people in the eye and talking to them.
  • if you take commissions, put out a small sign that says that.
  • if your spouse covers your table while you are out walking around take away her book/ipad/phone. it is shocking how many spouses look angry/sad/upset/annoyed/bored covering a table for their husband. It would be better for you to send them shopping and ask your neighbor to cover your table.
  • If you have been published, put out a copy. If you have pro-photo's, put out a photo album.
  • Small battery powered "spot" lights on your best work will really make them stand out.
  • aggressive makers interested in making things happen get out on the customer side of the table to get people to stop and talk and look at their knives.
  • If you need to sit down and you will, use a tall stool so you are at eye level with customers.
  • talk first, don't expect people to initiate a conversation.
  • figure out how to take credit cards and put that on your table.
  • Never, I mean never, complain about stupid/rude/tire kickers/cheap/etc customers to potential customers.
  • thank people for stopping and looking every time. You are selling yourself more than the knives you have today at the show.
 

EdCaffreyMS

"The Montana Bladesmith"
Tracy..... Those words of wisdom REALLY need to be huge sticky everywhere you can on the forums, with the title HOW TO...... Knife Shows!

YOU DA MAN!!!
 

J S Machine

Well-Known Member
Thanks guys. great responses. I am going in already knowing I probably wont sell much, if anything. I have been told time and time again that shows are about exposure, especially shows like Blade. I've been told it is worth doing the show at least once, just to get a ton of people looking and talking about your knives.

I was thinking about Square for a card reader. Anybody have experience with those, or what else you might suggest?

Also, not sure what color table cloth I will have. I'm drawn to black, but there is a lot of black. fluorescent yellow or orange would stand out, lol. I can definitely get a sticker made with my name.

does anybody know the dimensions of the table?
 

BossDog

KnifeDogs.com & USAknifemaker.com Owner
Staff member
Square readers are popular and will work well. So does the Paypal reader. There is a charge of around 3.5%. It's the bank's share and no way around that.
The color of table cloth should be what shows your knives the best, not what is the loudest.

Thanks guys. great responses. I am going in already knowing I probably wont sell much, if anything. I have been told time and time again that shows are about exposure, especially shows like Blade. I've been told it is worth doing the show at least once, just to get a ton of people looking and talking about your knives.

I was thinking about Square for a card reader. Anybody have experience with those, or what else you might suggest?

Also, not sure what color table cloth I will have. I'm drawn to black, but there is a lot of black. fluorescent yellow or orange would stand out, lol. I can definitely get a sticker made with my name.

does anybody know the dimensions of the table?
 

Smallshop

KNIFE MAKER
recently I had a veteran knife maker tell me "You don't sell knives at a knife show you sell them on the internet. You visit with old friends and make new ones and you try to talk to as many potential customers as possible so they come back later and buy one on the internet from you." That is pretty solid insight.

other things in no particular order.
  • Have business cards out, encourage people to take them. Have your web site on it.
  • band aides on a table always get a laugh but also send a message you have sharp knives. Some one will need one at some point.
  • get a table cloth printed with your name as large as possible, not your logo, no one gives a hoot about your logo except you - ever, no matter how cool it is. Big name, small logo.
  • If you can get people to hold your knife to inspect it, feel it, bond with it, you will sell more.
  • If some one says something like "wrong color handle" say "What color would you like? I can make it."
  • If you want people to pick up and handle your knives (you do), put the handles facing out to the customer or at least sideways.
  • If you have a high end knife you really don't want people to handle, put them under glass.
  • sheaths out with the knives. if there are two guys showing similar knives for similar prices, the maker with the better sheath wins.
  • if you hate making sheaths it will show so get some decent sheaths made. See above.
  • free candy/mints on the table will get people to stop and visit at least until the candy runs out.
  • a maker sitting down playing on his phone always has a worse show than the guy standing up, looking people in the eye and talking to them.
  • if you take commissions, put out a small sign that says that.
  • if your spouse covers your table while you are out walking around take away her book/ipad/phone. it is shocking how many spouses look angry/sad/upset/annoyed/bored covering a table for their husband. It would be better for you to send them shopping and ask your neighbor to cover your table.
  • If you have been published, put out a copy. If you have pro-photo's, put out a photo album.
  • Small battery powered "spot" lights on your best work will really make them stand out.
  • aggressive makers interested in making things happen get out on the customer side of the table to get people to stop and talk and look at their knives.
  • If you need to sit down and you will, use a tall stool so you are at eye level with customers.
  • talk first, don't expect people to initiate a conversation.
  • figure out how to take credit cards and put that on your table.
  • Never, I mean never, complain about stupid/rude/tire kickers/cheap/etc customers to potential customers.
  • thank people for stopping and looking every time. You are selling yourself more than the knives you have today at the show.
Tracy...Thank you!!
 

Smallshop

KNIFE MAKER
"if your spouse covers your table while you are out walking around take away her book/ipad/phone. it is shocking how many spouses look angry/sad/upset/annoyed/bored covering a table for their husband. It would be better for you to send them shopping and ask your neighbor to cover your table."

This totally cracks me up!! At the Pasadena, Ca show I avoided a few tables over the years for this very reason...a gal with a sour pus expression is clearly telling me..."DON'T talk to me!!"....and hubby wonders why the couldn't pay for the show...lol
 
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EdCaffreyMS

"The Montana Bladesmith"
I agree with Tracy on the credit cards! It seems to vary year to year, and you never know if the show is gona be a "credit card" or a "cash" show. Last year I didn't take a single credit card, but the year before that, it was just the opposite....nothing but credit cards.

Also, consider that you're required to collect sales tax in Atlanta...... and your show packet will have paperwork that you're suppose to report sales/pay sales tax within a given time after the show ends. How or what you do with that is up to you....but it bears consideration.;)

When it comes to being able to accept credit cards, my choice is Intuit "Go Pay"...... they charge 3.5%, but for smart phones their app allows you to complete a transaction by taking a pic of the front/back of the credit card..... no card reader required. Unless you're willing to eat that 3.5%, consider it when pricing your wares. ;) For shows, I tend to keep in mind that I don't want to carrying around a huge wad of "change".... so I price knives so it's simpler to make change.....like making the last digit in a knife's price a 5 or 0.
 

J S Machine

Well-Known Member
I didn't know intuit had a pay feature. I use quickbooks and turbotax. I will definitely check this out so I don't have to add another card to the deck. If everything is integrated, it will make it much simpler.

I also considered paypal, like someone just sending me paypal to my paypal right there at the table, but I know how easy it is to reverse transactions and I have heard horror stories of people demanding refunds, paypal agreeing, and then the maker or seller never getting their goods back or getting them back damaged or otherwise used.
 

EdCaffreyMS

"The Montana Bladesmith"
I also considered paypal, like someone just sending me paypal to my paypal right there at the table

I'd be prepared for Paypal too! Last year there was a large number of buyers from China there.... I sold a couple of high end pieces to them... at first they wanted to pay with a credit card from China (NOPE! Best way to take it in the shorts is to take a credit card from outside the US) I suggested Paypal and they agreed. Only problem there is getting hit with the Paypal fees, and in my case, since Paypal has an "upper limit" on each payment, one of the individuals had to do three separate paypal payments..... which meant I ate a tad over 4% on each transaction. (international paypal fees are higher)

It doesn't matter whether it's a credit card, paypal, etc. you take the chance of a "charge back" on any of them. Although in my opinion Paypal is the worst..... they will lock down your account for anything. Although it might sound complicated, I keep a bank account totally separate for Paypal....it's at a separate bank from my other accounts, and as soon as money goes in, that money gets withdrawn and physically taken to another bank. I also have a totally separate credit card that is ONLY for the paypal account. Right after those folks from China made the payments, I called my Mrs. and she went to that bank, withdrew the funds and put them in another bank.

It's a shame, but with the era of FIF, scammers at the Blade Show have become more prevalent. Keeping safe means paying attention to ANY transaction, and if it seems "fishy", trust your instincts! I've caught fake credit cards, stolen credit cards, and even counterfeit money that people have tried to pass off to me. In one case, I had some dummy try to give me a stolen credit card as payment.....problem was, the credit card belonged to another Knifemaker that I know personally! Last I saw of him, the Police were taking him out in handcuffs. :)
 

J S Machine

Well-Known Member
Great advice Ed on the separate bank thing. My wife will be with me for some of the show, and she is in banking. I will be fortunate to have her there with me because she is very good at spotting fraudulent anything when it comes to money. She can pick out counterfeit money while blindfolded, just because of the feel of it. I didn't realize the fraud type stuff was so rampant at shows though. That kind of scares me.

What are you all's thoughts on people wanting to share a table with you? I know I have seen other makers have a guest over for a while. I don't know show rules on this or if it is generally accepted or not.
 

EdCaffreyMS

"The Montana Bladesmith"
Table sharing is forbidden without the consent of the Blade Show. To my knowledge sharing any table or booth at the show is allowed/possible, but the Blade Show requires each individual/company to have a signed contract. The show staff is constantly walking around the show, with their table/booth holder list in hand, and if somebody is at/using a table that they can't identify, they consider it "brown bagging", and the person(s) will be asked to leave the show... (that's a nice way of saying they will be kicked out of the show).
Although I've only seen it happen once, there is a clause in the Blade Show contract, that if you don't follow the rules, you will denied a table at future Blade Shows. I don't see anything wrong with sharing a table, as long as all parties concerned follow the rules..... although it's something I would not choose to do.

It's a sad thing that knuckleheads out there who use Blade, and other shows for scams, but it's a fact, and every years there's buzz going around the show about somebody getting nailed by it. I can remember when any Knife Show was a "fun" trip/event, but have learned over time that doing a show the way it should be done means you're on your toes every moment, and you're flat worn out at the end of the day. :)
 

BossDog

KnifeDogs.com & USAknifemaker.com Owner
Staff member
It hasn't been mentioned yet but bring something to cover your table at night if you leave your knives there....the vast majority do leave their knives over night. Every year I hear someone talking about missing knives from a supposedly locked and guarded room. I understand a simple cover isn't a strong physical barrier but it's better than nothing. Alternatively, take your knives to the room for the evening.

Also every year I hear talk about knives going missing from a checked airline bag. You can ship your knives to your hotel (lot's of guys do this) or get a TSA approved gun locker and ship them inside the airline checked gun travel case - with a gun. Checked firearms are kept separately from regular luggage when flying.
 

percy

Well-Known Member
Just today I received a notice from intuit that they will no longer let me sale knives using the intuit but it could be or go pay. I checked and my card reader is no longer working. This was done because they said the knives were weapons. 4 years ago I went to intuit because square did the same thing. Others I have talked to said they have not had a problem but it could be the amount I use it for compared to most makers. If you don't stand out to them they will never notice I guess. Anyway I am glad I have the card system from the bank for the shop too.
 

J S Machine

Well-Known Member
Ed, Thank you for the insight on table sharing. I am sure I read that in show rules and contract stuff, but I had forgotten it. I know that I will be approached by other makers about table sharing, as it seems so common. I could see having another maker stop by and visit, but I will take your advice and be sure that I don't overdo it. I had no idea the show staff walked around like you say.

Tracy, I had no intentions of leaving anything. I had planned on taking my inventory with me at the end of day. I just don't trust people or places enough to leave my knives sitting.

percy, Thanks for the heads up. I had started the process of signing up for it, but I may wait. I don't know what the deal is with these payment processing comapnies acting like they do, but that is just plain frustrating. It is like if the general push is to ban guns, knives and weapons etc, and the gov can't do it by normal means, they will push the major financial insititutions into not dealing with them to try to thwart the commerce that way. crazy.

The good news is that as I said, my wife is in banking, and she knows a guy that deals with the ATM and other card processing services. I am going to talk to him about a card reader and processing. It will cost more up front, but the fee is only like 1.15% with a $10 monthly flat fee. Hopefully I won;t run into the restrictions with his services.
 
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