After consignment selling, trade shows are my favorite place to find merchandise to sell on eBay. This is where you find new items long before they hit the stores. There are trade shows all over the country for all kinds of merchandise. Just last month I was in Salt Lake to attend a trade show for outdoor merchandise, Barbeques, patio furniture, garden accessories and much more. I found several new products that will fit in with my line of firepit barbeques –one of them from a manufacturer who will drop ship.
Wholesale trade shows are closed to the general public and most of them are pretty choosey as to who they let in. The best way to gain entrance is to register online or by telephone. You will need business cards, letterhead, a commercial checking account in the name of your business and a sales tax certificate. You can also register in person, but this usually involves standing in long lines, whereas if you register in advance the show organizers will usually mail your entry badges. Most trade shows are put on by just a few companies, so once you register for one show, you will get invites to other shows put on by the same company and you will not have to re-register each time.
Take plenty of business cards (many exhibitors have drawings for prizes) and a carry bag or rolling bag to hold brochures and catalogs. You can place orders right at the show and even better, a lot of the manufacturers offer show specials such as an extra 10% off if you order at the show. However, you cannot take merchandise away from the show with you, everything must be shipped. Some shows have cash-and-carry exhibits just outside the main hall, where you can buy wholesale goods in small quantities. Last year we bought a dozen really nice antiqued wood footstools a the cash-and-carry room for $10 each. We sold all of them on eBay for over $40 each.