In August, I attended the IJO show in Philadelphia. It was my first visit to the Independent Jewelers Organization buying show. The show seemed to me to be well attended and very active. It was not a massive show like The JCK Show ~ Las Vegas or BaselWorld. It was relatively small, with perhaps 300–400 exhibitors, a nicely edited show with a variety of vendors covering all the different product categories a jeweler wants and needs to see at a show just before the Christmas selling season.
The show also made time for educational events and an entertaining final night when retailers and their suppliers got together for dining and dancing. This was an especially nice touch. Too often at shows there are too many competing events every night. The last evening of the IJO Show is designed to be fun and also to make sure everyone sticks around for the last day—a problem most other shows deal with simply by closing early.
The show was also different in another respect—it’s family oriented. Many jeweler families were there with children in tow. Most trade shows do not allow children of any age to attend their events. The reality is that it worked well.
Many at the higher, loftier levels of the business often forget that the jewelry industry is, at its core, a family business. It was a real kick to see jeweler husbands and wives working together selecting merchandise. On occasion, a child—realizing that, for once, he was not the center of his parents’ attention—interrupted one or the other, but for the most part having children there was not a problem for anyone. Business got done.
This show reminded me of the old days in New York when the JA show was held at the Hilton and the Sheraton. Somehow the scale of the show then seemed to be smaller and therefore friendlier and more manageable.
As a focused, members-only event, the IJO show works well for the benefit of the suppliers and retailers attending. While many of the exhibitors were disappointed with the volume of business they were writing, at least they were writing business.
Another interesting fact about this show is that there were no massive vendor displays. Show setup was easy and quick and obviously cost effective. The exhibitors benefit by having a low-cost environment in which to do business
In challenging economic times, such as we’re experiencing now, the idea of smaller regional shows makes sense. Costs for travel, lodging, and meals have grown dramatically over the past few years. Labor, setup, and exhibit costs have grown, too. Organizations like IJO and RJO may have hit on a winning combination for conducting a show.