If you are actively engaged in the continuous hunt for inventory, wholesale trade show attendance is an absolute must do activity for any type of retail business. Most B2B wholesale trade shows showcase hundreds, if not thousands, of wholesale suppliers under one roof. Attending a trade show provides the opportunity to preview samples of inventory, shake hands with prospective suppliers, and network with other resellers. 

Most trade shows allow retail buyers to attend for free, but in order to register as a buyer, attendees must prove they are actively engaged in some type of retail business. The requirements are no problem for established businesses, but what about the attendee who has yet to start a retail business? Can you attend a wholesale trade show if you haven’t started a business yet?


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When registering for a wholesale trade show you may be asked to supply the following information:

  • Company letterhead
  • Business card
  • Business License
  • Resell License (sales tax permit)
  • Copies of invoices from past wholesale purchases
  • Company credit card

The vetting process for attendance is crucial to the industry because the general public should not have access to wholesale merchandise pricing, but where does this leave new sellers or those who are trying to investigate a retail business opportunity?

New or future retail businesses may be able to meet attendee requirements by submitting the following:

Letterhead is a no brainer – everyone and their dog has a word processing program- make your own.

Business card – have some inexpensive cards made online at Vista Print. $10-$15 and you are done. And, if you really want to be tricky, Vista Print has a “preview” window that displays a business card “proof” that can simply be saved to your computer. Use this proof photo to prove you have a business card– it will work- cost = zero

Resell License (sales tax permit)

Business License – to keep it legal and meet city/county requirements, a business license is the first thing a new business should obtain. Licenses are relatively inexpensive to acquire, often free or range between $50 and $100.00.

Letter of Recommendation – get in contact with a specific exhibitor and ask them to put together a letter of recommendation. You know, “We’ve been working with Mary Smith and have sent a recommendation to her to attend the upcoming XYZ Show. Mary is new to the industry, but we would like to meet with her while we exhibit” Blah, blah, blah -you get the idea.

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