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I think a great starting place is the Canton fair. And the reason for that is it is the
largest trade show, I think in the world. I might be mistaken but I am pretty sure
that it is.
It comes in 2 parts. The next one is October the 15th - 31st, so you would have
from the 15 th until the 20th there will be a Canton fair show and I buy about 90%
of what I buy at Canton fair in the first half of the show because it’s business to
business and textiles. If you are a textiles buyer you want to consider it that too.
Textiles and clothing but primarily business to business and there will be
everything there from tractors to screw drivers to packaging machinery and its
really cool cause you walk in this one big area and they got this giant machines
that go on factories and they are all set up and actually running and making
products and making plastic bags and bubble wrap and wall paper and all sorts
of things that they are making up this big giant machines that are running in the
middle of the show.
But most everything that I buy, I buy out of that half of the show. Its just you find
the most unique stuff you buy to find stuff that is niche market. I really suggest
that unless you are just really in the gift and home décor that you go on the first
half of the show. The second half of the show that will be a break. That would
be a five day break and then from the 20th until the 25th the show will be closed
down, what happens is everybody moves out and if you could imagine this is like
a 15,000 booth show. Everybody moves out for 5 days. And then a whole new
show basically moves in and they do all that that transition within 5 days.
I usually take a break and I’d easily go to Manila and now because I got an office
there but I used to go and see a different country in Asia every time until I went to
almost all of them and during that break. And then comeback on the 25th and do the 2 nd
half of the show. If you are fairly new and you are not established yet
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great thing to do is during that break is to go to factory tours but the second half
of the show from the 25th- 30 th is all consumer goods. They do have office
supplies in there which kind of odd thing that would mix that in. But they have
office supplies, they have consumer goods and these are lot of the stuff you are
going to find at Wal-Mart.
But also there is a lot of stuff in there that is home décor and gift. Christmas
ornaments, holiday stuff, holiday in itself is a huge business. There is an entire
show in China that is just nothing but a Halloween show and they don’t even
celebrate Halloween. So the Halloween season is a giant season for gift and
costume and all that stuff and then you are going into Thanksgiving at fourth
quarter. The only other things that I would tell you about shows, other shows
you might want to go to.
Yiwu City is a jewelry and hand bag and watches show. And that’s for anybody
who is into that sort of thing. Yiwu is about a three hour ride from Shanghai and
it is a neat place. They got their own trade center there for just that sort of stuff
and if you have ever went in to one of this Chinese wholesale places that have a
handbags and the jewelry and I do not say junk because the ladies are going to
call this not junk but all that stuff, the cheap watches and cheap costume jewelry
and the handbags that all the ladies buy in droves that almost all that comes out
of Yiwu City. That they have a market that is open everyday there. Cash and
carry market where you can go and pick your goods. Pick them up right there.
And they have a guy that will follow behind you with a cart. And he will load
everything up on a cart. You can fill up a pallet and now ship the pallet the same
day back to the States. So it is an interesting way to get started too.
About Canton Fair
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The first thing I will talk about is travel, I have learned to save a lot of money on
travel. If you book through the wide organizations and consolidators you can
save a lot of money.
During Canton Fair they got a little bit wise to that and they are more expensive
than they used to be. But there is travel agency in Los Angeles, California called
US-China Travel and my guy there is named Danny Gin. Danny is a really good
guy, the US-China Travel Agency in Los Angeles is subsidized or partially owned
by the Chinese government.( Here’s their information their phone number is
6262827108 and they are in the LA area in California). They give discounts,
they consolidate China Southern Airlines which is the only airline that flies
directly in the Guangzhou from the US.
You fly to LA and it’s a great flight, if you get there you go on a midnight at LA.
You go into the plane, they serve dinner, you eat little dinner – you fall asleep. If
you are like me you take a couple of Ambien or a Unisom and zonked out and
they nudge you in the morning until you are in China. And that is really the way I
suggest you travel. But China Southern versus the domestic airlines is
considerably less expensive and with Danny’s discount because the government
subsidizes you, if you are going as a trader and they know you are going over to
buy their goods and try to support their country – so they try to give you fairly
I think that a normal coach take it is about $700 or $800, a business class ticket
is about $2,500 and a first class ticket is about $3,500 and that what it normally
is, I do not know if it will be different this time or not. In comparison a first class
ticket on Northwest airlines is like $8,000. It is considerably less expensive, if
you can afford first class by all means – I recommend it. It is awesome because
you stretch out, you make a whole bed and it is just really neat and all. and
everybody is going to be able to do that but its good. Their business class is
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good as well. It’s about a three-quarter upright bed. But it’s a long flight be
sure to take up, if you tend to sleep well in planes you are fine but if you don’t
tend to sleep well, be sure to take at least an over-the-counter sleep pill that will
Travel Visas. If you use Danny in US-China Travel, he will handle all your visa
requirements for you. You do have to apply for a visa as a US Citizen to go on
to China. This is something a friend of mine tell me and I have done it without
fail and I don’t know why and they may not mad over he told me, never apply for
business always apply as you are visiting (because you are visiting). You are
visiting and you are going to this trade show. But you are not going there to
work. If you are going there to work they want to know why and they get all into
your business and all other things. Just say, “I am going for a visit” you flopped
tourist visa and usually you can get one for a year and that is what I suggest that
you do because its only a few dollars more to get one for a year and it is for one
trip. Remember if you are going out of China on the break to somewhere else
and in coming back to China, you are going to need to get a Dual Entry Wisa its
called. So you need to let your travel agent know. If you are planning on flying
out from China to the Philippines or whatever, you still need to have a visa for
everytime you enter China – you need to remember that. Going to the Philippines,
you don’t need a visa at all. You can just use your passport.
Hotels. I usually book to a site called asiarooms.com they tend to have the best
rate, they go over a physically negotiate with the hotel from China so that were I
usually use there. Their rates are usually be 20 to 30% below travel is, it seems
like. And I would book early especially for Canton Fair everything does sell out.
I am going to give you a three hotel recommendations for better hotel. I would
want to give a hotel recommendation for lower cost hotel that I have not stayed in
any. I understand that the Holiday Inn there is pretty good I can’t give you a
personal recommendation on that. I think its pretty good it’s about $150 a night.
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But I have not stayed at the Holiday Inn so I hate to recommend it personally but
I have always heard it that its okay. The 3 hotels that I had stayed at are:
1. The Asia International Hotel – it’s a 5 star hotel, it’s a very but very
expensive it’s about $400 a night. It’s probably the best in the city.
2. The China Marriott Hotel – it’s directly across the street from one of
the Convention Centers. There are 2 convention centers that
make up the Canton Fair show. There is the downtown center and
then there is brand new beautiful state of the art center that is way
out of town about 30 minutes. The China Hotel, its directly in front
of the old center and the China hotel has been there forever but it’s
a great hotel its probably be best hotel for networking after the
event because the bar there and the restaurant there, the food
there is the best in Guangzhou. You won’t beat it. Its expensive,
there is a buffet there but as far as being an American and liking
American food its absolutely fabulous food you will be thrilled to be
there every night. Because once you are out of there and manage
Chinese food. And there is a Mc Donald across the street, that’s
3. The Ramada Pearl Hotel – its about $200 – $250 a night these are
all during the Canton Fair show season, for example that $250 a
night room is about $50 once the Canton Fair is over. The prices
are greatly inflated during the show. It’s a good place to stay, it’s
near the new Convention Center. All the hotels are going to give
so far half shuttle busses that run to all the Convention Centers – so
you don’t need any ground transportation, that is really the way to
go is by the shuttle busses because the air condition.
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a bottled water and it’s a very nice to have. Taxis are hard to get,
they are hard to get in at night up, there are huge taxi lines when
you get to lead the show. The shuttle busses are really the way to
The Shangri-la Hotel – they just built infront of the new Convention Center. It is
set to open any day now. If you are not familiar with them there is one in Manila,
Philippines and there is one in Hong Kong, I think in few others. They are over
the top 5 star hotels they are really nice hotel, I can’t imagine what the price will
be probably $500 or $600 a night. But really nice hotel.
And you can back up, just be sure to tell them in advance that you want 2 beds
and they are going to give a 2 twin beds. You are not to get 2 fold bed like the
US hotel. The mattresses are hard, they are not even than the nicer hotel.
They are not big floppy poppy mattresses. This is not the way they do it in Asia,
they are typically speaking there extra firm mattresses. You are going to have to
use your room key to put it on the door to turn your lights on. So when you go to
your room and there is no electricity don’t freak and go call because you didn’t
put your room key in the door. You have your little room key card that will be
slot by the door when you slide that in all the power come on in your room.
When you get leave your room you will take your key within the power goes out
it’s the way for them to control cost within the hotel.
Getting into the Canton Fair. You need fair passes. You can go to a site
cantonfaironline.com and you can look up or you can Google “canton fair
invitation”. And they will let you have an invitations despite giving him some
information, (if you have any problem with that you can email me and I will give
the factories over there that send you an invitation). It’s good to have an
invitation because it helped you to the registration process. They are about
60,000 buyers that show up at Canton Fair.
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you can imagine what a crazy mess it is. Everybody trying to communicate at
registration. But there is kind of express line, if you have an invitation in your
hand. And it’s an informal thing they are really easy to get and you will take that
invitation in you will get the badge for them 15 or 20 minutes.
If you are taking a translator in with you, there will be a line of translator standing
out in front of the fair when you get there and there are a hundreds of them.
They are all college students. There are foreign language college in
Guangzhou, allows the students to take 2 weeks off of school, if they are willing
to go work as a translator to improve their foreign language skills – so they will be
standing up there. The typical fee for a translator is $30 a day. It’s going to
cost you another $30 a day to get them a pass to get into the show. So you
have to take them in when you register and get them register at the same time.
Your pass, cost you nothing with an invitation, for as long as you are there but
everyday you have a translator, you have to buy their passes so many days out
depending on how many days you are going to need them. I would suggest that if
you have the time and you are not rush that you try your translator for one day
and buy them one day pass rather than going in to buy them 4 or 5 days in
advance because if you get inside in there no good they are not a good translator
and not a good negotiator then you may want to change up and you have already
paid a week out in advance in the translator that you have.
For the most part of the translators are really good, I would just say spent at least
20 or 30 minutes talking to a bunch of them outside before you select your
translator. And ask him some questions. Ask him some things that are kind of
complex, because sometimes they will understand English but they don’t
understand your diction and what you are really trying to accomplish, so ask him
a couple of question that requires a logic and thought because just because they
can speak English doesn’t necessarily mean they are smart. I have been down
that road before. I have always said better luck with girls than I have with guys.
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I have a couple of guys translator before, I have always have much better luck
with the ladies. And I think when you go to China, you are going to see that most
of the time people will be dealing within the booths are going to be ladies that
work for the bosses in the factory and I think the lady deals with the ladies better.
But that is just my opinion.
One of the things that you are going to deal with the Canton Fair is a catalogue.
Everybody is got a catalogue sheet or a catalogue and if they got one thing you
like they are will hand you there whole catalogue and it weighs 10 pounds and
you got to take it or you are rude, if you want to ever talk him again, so be
prepare to have a lot catalogues. I usually ship back from China a 100lbs of
catalogue per trip. That is really important that you got a nice thick rolling
catalogue bag to keep all those catalogue in. Taking them back to the hotel, you
need to go to the show with that bag completely empty. Maybe a calculator and
a stapler and a notebook and that’s it. Everything else, you need to bring it
completely empty because you are to fill it up by the end of the day. And it
weighs a ton. If you get a good assistant, they will pull the bag for you that is
what I was trying to do after I am tired for a walk.
Tips While On The Canton Fair
This is where we start to get into China mentally a little bit. You need to look like
a buyer when you go to the show. There are a lot of people that will show up for
the show. Only 6% of the people there are from America most there from other
countries see there Africans, Middle easterners, and Australians, everyone else
is there. So it’s a lot of different mixed. But they are sizing you up. When you
walk into the booth. And they are going to look at you and say, “ Is this person
deserve a lot of my time and my respect or trouble?”. I usually look you know,
with my t-shirt and hanging out my pair of short and some flip flops – you are not
going to get, you can have the attitude “Well I am the guy who has got money”.
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Well the bottom line is they don’t have to deal with you because you got the
money. They got lots of business coming in and you got to get over that
mentally of I am King Kong and they are the poor Chinese when you walk in the
door there. Because it is just not the way it is and they don’t reply they don’t
really respond to that very well.
I would not say that you needed to dress in the suit and a tie but I would say that
its better if you have on dress slacks and maybe polo shirt, if you are traveling
with the grouped of people if you can logo your shirts together with your company
logo on them. And presenting united front, you would look a lot more like a
professional organization and not just a one man show.
The most of the better buyers will have roller bags. You will definitely need a ton
of business card. I suggest that at least 1,000 business card if you are going for
both end of the show. The business card needs to be tasteful and not funny it
needs to be printed on good thick heavy card stock and you have to present it.
When you present the business card you need to hold it out by its two corners
with both hands. And you will see very quickly, watch out they are presenting
the business card to other buyers. A business card is considered of kind of
important thing there. So its not like, “Hey here’s a card” andt you fell it out of
them. You got to hold it out, with it turns around the way they read it with your
thumbs on each of two corners for you and push it forward slightly bowing your
head as you hand them the business card. It shows a lot of respect, and it
shows that you know how business is done in China and it doesn’t it shows that
you are not just an idiot they just got off the boat that is coming over they try to
hassle his way through something in China.
One of the big things that you see coming in buyers there is and this really
makes the buyer look like they know what they are doing is spiral notebook with
a stapler that you carry with you everywhere you go.
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is do things more like they do it. The more that you do like they did the better off
you are and one of the things you will notice that everyone in the people in the
booth have is a notebook where they staple your business unto a sheet the
notebook paper and then they filled that sheet of notebook paper up with a notes
about you. What you are looking for, the prices that they quoted you, all the
different information like that so you are going want to do that too.
So you carry a notebook with you, have it with you whole time. Have a little
portable stapler that you can put on your pocket or in your hand bag (if you are a
lady), and as soon as you walk up to them, they will give you a card, you want to
staple that on the pad and start writing down everything that they tell you. And it
will let them know that you are serious, it will let them know that you are not
going to forget because you have a record. It will going to let them know more
over than anything else that you are a professional and you know what you are
doing. And if you do those few things right there, you will going to look like a very
experienced buyer whether you are not. That goes a long way.
One thing that a lot of people are prepared for when they go to Canton Fair is the
fact that you are going to walk about 10 miles a day (that is my best guess). So
be sure that you wear very comfortable shoes, it should be dress shoes not
tennis shoes but they should be something like Rock Port or something that has
real comfortable feeling to it even tennis shoes are not so bad, if they are not
obvious they are just tennis shoes.
Food and Water at the Show. Bottled water is available every where, I suggest
you keep bottle almost all the time because it is a hot environment, you do
dehydrate especially if you walk in line and you are not used to that much
Food is kind of a challenge, the only real American food in the show is
McDonalds and it is so busy that you are going to need to send your assistant
down, roughly one hour. They all have cell phones and you going to need a
Chinese cell phone. You can get Chinese cell phone for about $100 as soon as
you get there, from a second hand place, you will have your assistant or your
translator to take you, and its better just to get one and that way you can
communicate with your assistant, if nothing else. And the other people, if you
have dinners or outings scheduled for after dinner, it makes you look a lot better
to the people you are negotiating with, if you have Chinese cell phones, because
they can call you and set up a dinner.
If you want McDonalds, you got to send your assistant down there roughly an
hour before you want to eat, stand in the line and order the food. And when they
get the food they will call you and you need to come down to meet them,
otherwise you are going to kill one hour at McDonalds every day. If you can
stand to eat something other than McDonalds, there’s plenty of Chinese food that
is fast and quick that you can get it. But its true Chinese food and if you are not
used to it, it can be a little odd. But some people just really love it. I usually live
on cheese sandwiches, they have a little coffee shop, always have cheese
sandwiches and they are pretty benign, as far as things to eat, so I got a cheese
sandwich and a coke. And you can usually get some Pringles potato chips, and
that usually what I have everyday at the show because I can them out and that is
I never buy actually anything at the show; I never commit to buy anything at the
show. And you really shouldn’t either; it makes you look kind of foolish. We bring
everything back home and doing evaluation, we make notes. The last time we
did this, Richard Lindner and I, in the last show, we brought home, like I said
about 100-150 lbs. of catalogues.
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put up 45 products we really wanted to buy products on, and we just started
taking them apart until we finally got down to 6 and we ended up buying 3 – s2o
we bought 3 new product lines.
And it’s overwhelming when you go, because you going to buy everything
because everything is so inexpensive and your head is starts buzzing about how
you can sell all these stuff but you really got to start to evaluate what your
opportunities because you can only do so many things.