1) Sign up for the event mailing list. They will send coupons and brochures previewing the exhibitors that will be attending the show.
2) Dress comfortably -- you'll be on your feet for potentially a few hours!
3) Bring a snack and water with you, the only concessions are your basic greasy/soda offerings.
4) Bring a shopping list, set a budget for yourself and walk the whole floor! The best way to stay focused is to have an idea of what you are looking for and to walk the whole floor before making a purchase decision. Many vendors will carry the same supplies at different prices!
5) If you have a resale license, you can enter the wholesale area at the back of the venue. Bring a copy since you will get great wholesale deals and exclusive vendors in the back!
6) If you are trying to match stones or other materials, bring a sample with you so there can be no question about what you want to get.
7) Pick up business cards or catalogs from your favorite vendors so you can find them again next time!
8) Get your hand stamped at the door if you want to exit and reenter later. They also often hand out free passes for the rest of the weekend at the exit, so be sure to grab one.
9) When in doubt, don't buy. If you're not an expert in the materials you are looking at and you feel pressured to buy something, go home and do research and sleep on it, or if you do buy, ask whether there is a return policy (often there isn't). There's always going to be some cool supplies you wish you could get, but put it on the list for next time rather than have buyers remorse!
10) When you get home, write down notes on your favorite vendors, including what you bought from them and the prices.
Shows like this one can be a fantastic resource for the jewelry maker. If you follow these tips, you'll have more time to focus on your creative inspiration while you're there! Have fun and see you there!
Do you have other tips? Feel free to add them as a comment, below!