The next time you visit a gift shop, think about where all those interesting and unique gifts come from. Typically, for smaller shops, the owner or manager will go to gift markets in cities like Dallas or Atlanta to try to select items that will be big sellers in their store.
But now buyers from shops in Mississippi and adjoining states only have to travel as far as the Mississippi Trademart in Jackson. Since 1996, the Mississippi Development Authority (MDA) has presented the Mississippi Market Wholesale Show. The idea behind the wholesale market is to help budding proprietors introduce their products to buyers, and it helps increase business and sales for all participating vendors.
Vendors selling made-in-Mississippi products have booths that sell to credentialed buyers from retail stores in Mississippi and surrounding states. The show is not open to the general public, and no vendor may sell wares at the market. They can, however, take orders for items to be sold in stores.
Mississippi manufacturers, artisans, wholesalers and service providers exhibit at the Market, trying to catch the eye of shop owners and buyers. Items on display will include jewelry, specialty apparel, pottery, decorative accessories, gourmet foods, garden accessories, personal accessories, art, linens, bath care products, aroma therapy products, candles, gourmet coffees and teas, children’s accessories and specialty furniture. Store supplies such as gift wrap and services used by retailers will be represented, as well.
One of the success stories of the Mississippi Market is a company called Hanging by a Thread, located in Hernando. The company specializes in handmade baby gifts such as burp pads, fine linen and jersey bibs and burp pad sets. Targeting gift shops, baby stores and other shops that sell fine linens and baby gifts, the company also sells a line of fun and classic fine linen guest towels, cocktail napkins, dinner napkins and placemats. In summer 2008, owner Kerry Scott will be introducing a line of kitchen and bar towels.
While 2007 was a successful year for Scott, a few years ago her business was merely a vision. A graduate of Ole Miss with a degree in English and a minor in theater, Scott was employed for seven years as a flight attendant before her job was downsized following the 9/11 attacks. It was then that she decided that she wanted to learn to sew. “My mother retired from her own custom drapery business after 30 years, and she agreed to teach me,” she said.
Being a first-time business owner, Scott took advantage of the Mississippi Market to launch her products. She also attended a workshop the MDA conducts to assist up-and-coming businesses with other essential aspects required for successfully marketing a business. “They gave me great ideas on everything from how to display my product to how to figure out what to charge for it. The staff at MDA is excited about small businesses in Mississippi and definitely wants to see them become a success. They will help you through the entire process and answer any questions you may have, even after the event.”
Elizabeth Taylor of MDA’s Existing Industry and Business Division said, “We help a lot of the ‘mom-and-pop’ businesses with their packaging, labeling and financing. Many of these businesses can’t afford to go to larger shows, but they want to move beyond the scope of flea markets. So, we created Mississippi Market for those businesses.”
Scott has attended the Mississippi Market for the past two years; the 2008 show will be her third. “Before the market rolled around, MDA held a workshop for people who were looking to start wholesaling their products,” said Scott.
The pre-registration deadline for vendors is May 1 to get their listing in the directory. The deadline for buyers to register is May 25th. After May 25th, buyers may register at the show by bringing their tax number and two forms of credentials to the show June 5th or 6th. If buyers have registered for or attended the show in the last three years, they still need to RSVP, but they do not have to re-register by sending credentials. This year the show is scheduled to be held June 5 and 6 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.
For more information, visit the Mississippi Market Wholesale Show Web site at www.mississippimarket.org or call 1-888-886-3323.
Contact MBJ contributing writer S.J. Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org .