Road Reps Vs. Showrooms – is there a winner?

Deciding to hire a sales rep, be it a road rep or a showroom based sales rep can be a hard decision. I know finding a reputable one(s) can be difficult.  You are going to want to interview a lot before you make a choice.  Just because one is right for your friend, does NOT mean you are going to feel the same way.  This relationship is like a co-dependent marriage. You will both be dependent on each other to succeed and be happy.  One that needs to have romance, understanding, compassion, forgiveness, admiration, and the desire to make it work.  Your sales rep is going to prod you, annoy you, be demanding, be opinionated and all the other stuff you hate about relationships…..but is also going to praise you, admire you, and congratulate you too.  It's all part of the game.  Some days you are HOT, and others you are not. But it's up to you as the designer to keep things fresh.  Think of it like cooking a new gourmet  meal every week to impress your significant other.

If you are thinking about getting a sales rep or several…….

Before you take a big step like this, Ask yourself  these questions:

  • Am I ready to grow my business quickly?
  • Can I handle a larger company?
  • Is my manufacturing in place to handle the growth?
  • Can I financially handle the growth?
  • Do I want to work even harder?

When I first had my handbag line, I thought having a NY Showroom was the best idea I ever had.  Well they grew my business 400% in the first year, but I was not prepared at all.  I didn't know what was going to be expected of me as far as Tradeshow participation, nor did I have the capital to keep up. And let's not even discuss how much I didn't know about merchandising or how many samples to produce…….anyhow it was a nightmare…….but I was so proud of the 400% growth at the same time.  A very mixed bag as you can tell.  LOL right?

Here are a few tips for you so you can decide when the right time is for YOU. Decide for yourself if want to go big time right away, or start out with road reps whose territory is more manageable than a major showroom.  My experts below have contributed their take on road reps vs showroom.  YOU decide what fits for you.

Where to find road reps:  or

The Marts in Atlanta, Dallas, Los Angeles and NYC

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    Written by Sarah Shaw

    There are 6 comments

  • Janie says:

    I vote road reps too–we’re in Larry Lucas Atlanta and Dallas showrooms but Larry also employs road reps all over a 13-state area. I can see both sides. I think a mix is absolutely best. You come at it with a one-two. But few reps do both. In our year in ATL showroom, we’ve netted about 13 accounts or so–but the road reps have done twice that and then some…

  • Sarah, these resources are invaluable. Thanks for going before and paving the way for us.

  • Thanks Sarah for the great information! What commission should we expect to pay a road rep or showroom rep?

  • As a start up stage apparel business this is a good view about sales reps. Since I am currently doing online-retail it is good for me to see other alternatives when we are ready to sale whole sale.
    Tks Sarah!

  • @ Sarah – Thanks so much for putting together such a great post! No where else have I been able to get answers to my questions, and all in one place, no less! Much appreciated.

  • Tiia Lin says:

    I think a showroom would be a great fit for my business. As long as the show room had a knowledgeable staff that can offer styling advice because I design, make, and sell handmade fashion accessories (mainly scarves and wraps that are incredibly versatile) so the one on one of a showroom is appealing. I am not opposed to trade shows or road reps, I just don’t think it fits with my business.

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