“My first trade fair experience” — by a CdO craft exporter

handmade paper

Luchi Cabanlet of Cagayan de Oro Handmade Paper Crafts, maker of greeting cards, stationery, photo albums and other items from handmade paper, is now a “pro” when it comes to trade fairs. She is a regular at DTI CITEM expositions, including the Manila F.A.M.E.

She has found trade fairs to be a short route to market exposure.  It is where buyers, agents, and manufacturers meet.   It was through this exhibition that she was able to meet some of her current biggest buyers for the first time.

Luchi recounts her first experience in joining a trade fair.

The year was 1987.  She was joining the Manila F.A.ME. International, the biggest annual international trade event in the country.  She was by herself.

“I went there and I had to set up the booth all by myself.  By 10 o’clock, my back was aching.  My children were still in school.  So I was all alone.  The trade fair was four days long.

“When you join an international fair, you spend a lot.  I had to hire some forwarding people to bring in the goods for me.  And I had to design my own display.

The first three days were dismal.  She had a booth located at the very end of a lane.

Day one passed without a single sale for her.  So did Day two.  Day three was no different.

On the last day of the trade fair, two hours from closing time, an American buyer approached Luchi.  He told her he wanted to buy samples and wanted to know how much the minimum order was.

Still unfamiliar with the concept of minimum order, Luchi replied there was none.

“He couldn’t believe it and he got really excited and began pointing at everything he wanted.  So taranta ako, and he even had to help me compute because it was in dollars.  He got US$2,000 worth of products.”

She had assumed the buyer was just booking an order and was shocked when he paid her cash on the spot.

“So of all the people there,  I was the only one who was able to receive payment on the spot.”

“So that was my first sale and that’s how it started.”

(Excerpted from SME Insight, March-April 2007).

Photo credits: nepal.helvetas.org