At NAR NXT’s recently concluded REALTORS® Expo in Orlando, Florida, it wasn’t just happenstance that some small booths on the tradeshow floor with no swag were often more crowded than those of the industry titans, with a couple of them three-deep in customers.
And while jewelry and shoe booths may have seemed out of place to the uninitiated, their owners were quick to explain that what they sold often impacted the success of agent buyers. Another expounded upon the way in which her company’s simple product might produce new clients and listings for years and years.
Kasey Petersen owns Passion for Jewelry, which started out of nowhere 25 years ago when she brought back some pearls after a visit to China.
“A neighbor saw them and wanted strands for her aunt and mom,” she says. “I said, ‘I can do that.’ I went back to China and it led to even more customers. I started going there once a month and became an expert on pearls.”
Suddenly, Petersen had a growing business, which she quickly expanded.
“I started traveling nine months a year and decided to buy and sell more than pearls because every country I went to had something incredible. I began going to shows and met a lot of REALTORS®. Now they’re my very favorite group to work with. Through the years, they’ve become great customers and good friends,” says Petersen, who has become well-known within the tradeshow circuit and has no trouble getting into conventions.
“Now they look for me,” she laughs. “The REALTOR® mindset is that they want people to know they’re successful, so they want to wear something beautiful, something one of a kind. Understated but with real stones.
“I’m like a personal jewelry shopper for agents who want something special but can’t and don’t know where to look. We are one of a kind, and I tell customers that their other jewelry will be jealous.”
Being at real estate conventions has boosted Petersen’s business with more than just the real estate professionals in attendance.
“I am a tried-and-true NAR exhibitor,” she states. “I go wherever they go, because I’ve got the customers and they’re going to find me. A lot of exhibitors like to buy too, and a lot of gentlemen who attend shows spend on a regular basis to bring home gifts for their wives and daughters.”
At another out-of-the-way booth, tradeshow attendees crowd around a smallish table handling shoes. There are some actual boxes of shoes for immediate wearing, but not many. For Cindy Bauszus, owner of European Heels, that’s not a problem.
“I’ve been doing this for three years,” she says. “These shoes are made in Spain. I broke my legs in a car accident when I was young and couldn’t wear heels for 20 years until I found these eight years ago.
“The reason they’re so comfortable is because they have cork in them. There’s an inch-cork platform in almost every shoe, so if it’s a three-inch heel, it’s really only two inches. And 95% of the shoes have velcro, so REALTORS® love them.”
Bauszus noted that there are over 100 colors available, with seven heel heights. Custom shoes are made in Spain, therefore it takes about seven weeks to get an order delivered.
“Word of mouth is amazing,” she says. “At shows, we usually sell 20 pairs an hour for seven hours straight. We just went to a Keller Williams event, and I’m trying to get into one for RE/MAX. REALTORS® are my best customers. Their job is walking almost non-stop, and they want comfortable shoes.
“I try to get as many women as possible to buy and immediately wear the shoes, so if people comment on them, they can be directed to my booth. They’re heels without the hurt.”
Another group of real estate professionals is visiting and buying at Christy Kolbo’s busy Perfect Closing Gift booth. She talks up one particular gift that keeps on giving back to the REALTORS®.
“Our goal is to try and drive your income by generating repeat and referral business, so after a closing, you want to give clients something that’s been personalized for them with your name on it,” she says, “because it’s been proven that if your name is on it, they’ll not only keep your gift, but display it.”
The giving-back gift? An address stamp.
“The stamp has the new home’s address, but the casing has the REALTORS® marketing information 100% permanently on the front of the stamp’s casing,” she says. “The thing about an address stamp as a closing gift is you know the client doesn’t already have one because it’s a new home, and they’ll keep it and use it for as long as they live there.
“So they could use it 10 times a year or 100 times. I’ve been told by multiple agents that they’ve gotten repeat business 10 and 15 years later solely as a result of a former client having their phone number on the address stamp.”