by Ron Fisher
In its 29th year of wholesale promotion, the Norton Shows is gearing up for its next show. Located in the Smoky Mountains of Gatlinburg, Tennessee, and named the Best of Gatlinburg 2010 in the Promoters of Shows and Exhibitions category, there is no other place to be than at Norton’s for the best finds in the apparel, jewelry, gift industries, and more. The family-run company has four shows per year, with its upcoming show being held from November 14-16 at the Gatlinburg Convention Center.
The event is wholesale cash-and-carry that promises immediate delivery of orders to all of its buyers. Norton’s takes pride in being accessible, entertaining, and very accommodating for smaller businesses. “Our motto is that everyone must be treated like they are somebody,” said Linda Norton, co-owner. “The key to success is to keep a level head, be positive and not stress about the things going on around you. That goes for not only us, but the buyers and exhibitors.”
Norton Shows are distinctive for their small touches to draw in the crowd. For example, Norton says they always try to feature an entertainment aspect to their show, such as having an Elvis tribute artist performing. “Everyone is there to have a good time,” said Norton. “People look forward to the performances. I have seen many buyers and exhibitors unconsciously keeping up with the beat of the music and it helps put them in a pleasant and positive state of mind.”
However, the true value of the Norton Shows is in the selection of vendors. The show covers three main avenues: apparel, high fashion jewelry and gifts. This encompasses products such as rustic furniture, home décor, perfume, makeup, fashion accessories, and more. Over 90% of exhibitors are returning, and Norton adds ten to twenty new ones to each show. The show has buyers attending from all 50 states, Central and South America, the Caribbean Islands and Canada. The average ratio of exhibitors to buyers is 10,000 to 21,000 for 500-800 booths.
The Norton Shows offer a great opportunity for networking and for exhibitors to service existing customers and find new ones. When attending the show, Norton has a few suggestions to make the most out of your time there: “wear comfortable shoes, ask questions, walk through the entire show before going back to buy anything, and don’t forget to go out and experience the mountains outside. I urge everyone to do it while they are in Gatlinburg.”
In order to attend the show, storeowners must have a business license in the industry; copies of three consecutive cancelled payroll checks and both owners and buyers must have matching driver’s licenses. The Norton Shows offers hotel discounts, and information available online for those who plan on staying nearby for several show dates. For more information on the Norton Shows, call 865-436-6151 or visit www.nortonshows.com.