I had the opportunity to visit my first “wholesale” trade show in 2015, the ASD Marketweek in Las Vegas.
ASD brings the world’s widest variety of wholesale merchandise together in one efficient consumer goods trade show. It’s free to attend as a buyer and offers a massive range of products to select from, with over 2,600 vendors in attendance!
Held in Las Vegas twice annually, ASD is a destination wholesale buying event. The buyers range from department stores to convenience stores, from college book stores to general stores from grocery store distributors to fashion boutique stores, along with an ever growing number of Amazon resellers(like me!). ASD is the largest and most comprehensive trade show of its kind. It’s actually nine shows in one, including SourceDirect where you can meet with factory representatives from countries all over the world, and source products directly from places like China and India. Nine Shows in ONE. These are the categories covered:
GIFT + HOME
Gift & Souvenirs Art/Craft/Hobby Dolls & Figurines Gourmet & Specialty Foods Plush Pet Products Promotional/Premium/Imprinted Items Religious & Spiritual Souvenirs Stationery, Cards, Gift Wrap Military Collectibles Wedding & Bridal Licensed Merchandise Collegiate & Major League Sports Characters, Brands, Entertainment
Holiday/Seasonal Christmas Halloween Other
Home Bed & Bath Furniture, Lamps, Lighting Housewares, Kitchenware, Tabletop, Small Appliances Interior Décor Outdoor, Lawn, Garden Décor Floral & Floral Supplies
FASHION + ACCESSORIES
Accessories Costume Jewelry Handbags Hats & Scarves Sunglasses & Eyewear Small Leather Goods (Belts, Wallets) Watches
Apparel Men’s Women’s Kids & Baby Undergarments / Hosiery / Socks
Shoes Sandals Fashion Heels Casual Rain Boots
TOYS + NOVELTIES
Toys Games Puzzels Novelties
BEAUTY + FRAGRANCE
Cosmetics Nail and Hair Products Styling Tools Fragrance Spa Equipment & Treatments
CASH & CARRY Jewelry + Gifts to Go
Fine Jewelry Sterling Silver Accessories & Costume Jewelry Gifts to Go
Snacks & Energy Drinks Lighters & e-cigarettes Travel Size products Over the Counter Adult Novelty Herbal Supplements
GENERAL STORE (and Closeouts too!)
General Merchandise Automotive Electronics & Accessories Accessories: Cellphone, Bluetooth, Ear buds, Wireless Speakers, Carry Cases, DVD’s Equipment: Tablets, Cameras, PDA’s, DVD Players, TV’s, MP3 Players Personal Security / Tactical Equipment Sporting Goods Camping / Outdoor Recreation Closeouts & Liquidation Dollar Store Items Office & School Supplies Home Improvement: Hardware, Tools, etc Travel Accessories
SOURCEDIRECT at ASD
Gift & Handicrafts Consumer Electronics Fashion Accessories Home & Garden Apparel & Footwear Outdoor Beauty Toys & Novelties General Merchandise Smoke Accessories
e-Cigarettes Vapors/Tanks/Mods Hookahs / eHookahs eLiquid Pipes Lighters Smoking Accessories Enhancements Herbal Supplements
Being the keener that I am, I showed up at 6:45am on Sunday for the 7:00am registration. Apparently everyone else was still sleeping off a late Saturday night in Vegas as I was the first and almost only one there! 🙂
The staff rolled in promptly at 7am and the sign in process was really quick. I simply scanned the barcode from a printed email I received during my online registration, and they created a name badge for me. Simple! One thing that surprised me was how easy it was to register for the show. They ask questions about your business during the initial online registration process and clearly state that you must be a reseller to attend, but I wasn’t required to supply any documents to support this. None of the vendors asked to see my information either, and I was able to place orders using a credit card.
Note: They don’t allow anyone under the age of 16 to attend the show as they say it’s a place of business. It’s definitely something to keep in mind if you’re planning on bringing your kids with you, as you’ll need to arrange child care. They suggest visiting lasvegaskids.net to find childcare options in the area.
It’s a bit overwhelming to say the least when you arrive at the show. There are 2,600 vendors spread out over a 3.2 Million Sq. Ft. facility, on 2 floors and 3 separate wings of the building: North, Central and South. Fortunately, they have fantastic signage and a really great mobile app which makes navigation super easy.
Tip: Wear comfortable shoes! I averaged about 15,000 steps per day according to my phone health app! And you’re going to do a lot of walking, 8-9 hours per day!
I spent the day prior planning my visit using their online planner tool. It’s a fantastic way to narrow down the vendors with products that you’re interested in selling and I’d suggest anyone who attends uses this. It allows you to create a list with the booth number & location, plus outside contact information for each of the vendors that you select. For myself, I focussed on my market of Toys, Gift + Home, General Store which narrowed down the areas I needed to visit to the South Upper and Lower sections of the show. I’ll speak to this specifically as I didn’t spend much time in the other categories.
Originally, I’d planned to follow a map visiting the vendors on my list. However, once I arrived I figured it’d be easier to just walk up and down the isles in a strategic zig-zag pattern and stop in at booths that looked interesting along the way. I’d suggest this as a better option, unless you’re pressed for time and on a tight schedule.
Having never attended a wholesale show before, I wasn’t sure what to expect when approaching new vendors. I brought along business cards, and a copy of my business license and Tax ID (Re-seller Certificate) just in case. What I found was that vendors were almost all very open and willing to do business with me and no one asked to see ID. I was upfront and explained that I’m a re-seller on Amazon both in Canada and the US. Some were closed to adding more sellers in the US, but pretty much everyone allowed me to sell for them in Canada as they said they were wide open. I even placed orders for a few products right on the booth using my credit card! It was honestly, just like going shopping at the mall, but at wholesale pricing. It couldn’t be any easier, really.
There was such a huge selection of products to choose from and it was fairly overwhelming. Basically, if it’s sold anywhere retail, it’s here! From Dollar Store items, to books, to e-Cigs!
I was able to tell pretty quickly walking past booths whether or not their products would work for me selling on Amazon. I went with my gut, and my strategy was really simple:
Observe: What do they have on display, and does it look practical for selling on Amazon?
Approach: Walk over to the booth and get a closer look at the product(s) and examine them
Scan: I’d scan the product(s) upc code using the Amazon Seller app and check if it’s already on Amazon and determine its rank. Ideally, it’s already listed without any FBA sellers.
Inquire: Introduce myself and ask about their product(s) and where they’re currently selling. I’d then ask about the MSRP and Wholesale prices.
Deal: I’d write an initial order on their booth for the minimum purchase amount (usually $100 – $250 on average)
Almost every vendor was open to allowing me to sell their products on Amazon. A few said they’re not allowing any more sellers on Amazon.com, but in almost every case Amazon Canada was still wide open and they gave me the green light to sell in Canada.
Tip: Always Negotiate: If a vendor was okay in dealing with me at this point and I was still interested in their product(s), we’d write an initial order and I’d then ask right before signing “Is that the best you can do?” It may seem pushy, but it works! I received free shipping or an extra 10% off in most cases just for asking!
By the end of my time at the show, I was both exhausted and glad I went. I picked up several product lines that I’m confident will do quite well. The trip all in cost me around $700 CDN for 2 full days (3 nights) including hotel, airfare and meals. I’m sure I made mistakes and missed out on many products, but for my first time at a show I’m fairly satisfied with the results.
But perhaps the biggest takeaway is that you really don’t need to attend this show to pick up most of the lines exhibited! While there’s no substitution for face to face contact, I’m pretty certain that many of the vendors there would open up their lines to you as a reseller just by contacting them on their web site. It’s definitely worth while to physically see the products in person and having so many options under one roof is both overwhelming and enlightening at the same time. And, it’s Vegas, baby!
Oh, and if I never have to see another “Vaping” product or “Selfie Stick” again, I’ll be forever happy!