Growing Your Boutique

A Guide To MAGIC: Tips For A Successful Trade Show

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For aspiring or emerging boutique owners

Hey Fashionista! It’s trade show season! And one of the biggest is approaching fast! The MAGIC trade show is the largest apparel, beauty, accessories, footwear, and sourcing trade show in the United States. It is held in February and August of each year in Las Vegas, Nevada. Hundreds of thousands of vendors, buyers, business owners, and more attend MAGIC to source products for their stores. This years show is being help February 14th -16th with exciting categories such as Trend, Men’s, Young and Contemporary, New & Emerging and much more.

MAGIC can be extremely fun, but definitely overwhelming especially if you’ve never been or aren’t prepared.

So, I’m going to share with you a few tips to help you navigate MAGIC either as a first timer or very seldomly.

THE DO’s

  1. Pre-show preparation. Before you step into a convention hall of over 100,000 people, you should do some prep work. You must be a legally registered business in order to attend MAGIC. Make note of your best and worst selling styles. Review your sell thru %. Research upcoming trends, fabrics and colors. Make a list of your current vendors and see them first.
  2. What to bring. Lots of business cards. Most vendors will attach this to your p.o( purchase order) for their reference. Business certificate. If you haven’t purchased before, you may need to show this as proof of business.Notebook and pens. A calculator to easily know your margins. Flats. This is not a fashion show. You have lots of ground to cover. Be cute yet comfy.
  3. Make a schedule. Start early. The show floor opens at 9am. Most of the hotels provide a free shuttle to the convention centers. Try to walk every aisle and every row. You never know what you might find!Most styles are pre-orders so if there is something you MUST have for your store, write the order.
  4. Attend the seminars. The seminars provide a wealth of free information on industry trends and insights by experts. Make time to attend at least one. The upcoming season trends are my favorites seminars to attend.
  5. Create a budget. This is not the time to cash out and throw it in the bag lol. Plan your budget according to your business needs, not according to what you think is cute. Because that will be almost everything! Be realistic about your spend and how much inventory you need to buy. This is done by creating an Open-To-Buy Budget. OTB is used to ensure you have the “right” amount of inventory to support your sales plans. You factor in how much inventory you already have and how much you think you will sell over a certain period of time. If you are a new owner and don’t have sales projections, create a budget of how much inventory you want to spend in each quarter. Don’t over assort.
  6. Questions to ask vendors. As as many questions as possible to make sure you make an informed buying decision. A few questions to ask: What is your size run? Most are 2-2-2( 2 smalls, 2 medium, 2 large) but some are 3-2-1. 1 Pack = 6pcs. If you want to simply test out how a style will sell, order 1 pack only. Are your items true to size? Some vendors are known to run very small, so it’s important to ask if they fit true to size. If not, this is something you would want to add to your product description informing a customer to size up or down. What is your ship date? Most items are MAGIC are pre-orders, meaning they will ship in future months. You want to keep track of what items ship during what month. What are your best sellers?This can work two-fold. It can help you determine what’s trending and if you should have in your store, or if you’re like me and don’t want everything everyone else has, it’s a way for you to know what NOT to buy.

THE DON’Ts

There are a few things you should not do while attending MAGIC.

Do not get overwhelmed.The convention center is HUGE and there is lots to see.  

Stay focused. Do not order every item you like. Everything is cute, but keep your budget and customer top of mind. Provide your credit card. Many vendors will ask for a card on the spot.

You can handle this two ways: 1) simply ask for them to call you when the order is ready. This ensures you won’t be charged for a bunch of items you liked because you were caught in the moment, but might want to cancel later. 2) provide your card but tell the vendor not to charge you until they’ve called to confirm.

Speaking of cancel. Do not order a bunch of items and then cancel. Vendors will block you from being able to order in the future.

It’s best to take notes of styles and vendors you like on the first day. Take the evening to review and then go back on day 2 to actually place the order.

Now you should feel somewhat prepared to hit the trade-show floor with ease! Be sure to tag me @jasmenebowdry on IG and let me know if you used these tips while at the show!

P.S. if you want to dig deeper into your product assortment and learn how to properly buy inventory at trade-shows like MAGIC, but also perfect your pricing, structure your online boutique with proven and repeatable strategies, join the waitlist for Breakout Fashionista, a course specially for boutique owners who are ready to breakout and build a real brand! Click here to learn more!

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Throughout my career, I’ve worked with one-person boutiques and multi-billion dollar companies to expand their reach and grow their profits. After 15 years of corporate retail, working at Fortune 100 companies, two degrees, and a short stint working as a college professor... I said, “see ya” to the corporate world.

My guidance ignites passion, infuses purpose, inspires excellence — and makes my clients a hell of a lot more money.

HERE'S MY STORY

Yes, my name is pronounced like the princess.

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