Swimming Lessons 2 - My first tradeshow, Miss Universe contestants are shorter (and skinnier) than they look on tv and when a breakdown breaks down

Yup- that's a DJ and a bar - I told you Pool is a cool show ------->

So, to wrap this experience up:

(as much as I can right now, because alot of buyers took my linesheets and postcards, so it is impossible to know at this point what is going to happen - it may take months to know the actual dollars and "sense" of all of this)

The show had changed locations this year and although it was still part of Magic (a huge fashion industry show)- Pool was a bit more out of the way for buyers this time, so that may have affected foot traffic (as well as the economy). People who had done the show before, told me the foot traffic this time was not as good. The management were great though (thank you Ashley!).

I met alot of buyers and got very helpful feedback that I would never get mailing postcards, etc. I have 14 new store accounts so far (and hopefully they will all be reordering!). My largest sale was $2200.00 and my smallest was $150.00.

I had planned on an $800.00 show special, but when my first couple buyers ordered more than that, I took the signs down and only mentioned it to buyers with lower order totals. Also, most shops wanted the items to arrive in October- with enough time for them to test them out before placing a holiday order, but so they wouldn't have to stock and pay for them right now.

I chose Pool for my first show even though it was a travel show for me for three reasons- 1. to see family on the west coast and 2. it seemed like a smaller more do-able show for a first timer and 3. I thought my brands would fit in well

The Miss Universe pageant going on at the same time, was of course a total plus for me!

(you may remember my summer obsession with the tiny tiara reality show tots and unabashed jealousy of their trophy collections)

The contestants were walking around the casino in little lines (maybe 10 to a pack) all day long. At 7:00 in the morning they would be in full make up and hair, in the highest, pointiest heels I have ever seen, smiling and waving at us everywhere.

They had little entourages that stood on the sidelines and wore t-shirts with their contestant's picture on the front and clapped and snapped pictures when their girl walked past. It just added to the whole surreal Vegas thing for me ...

I wanted my sister to wear a t-shirt with my picture and do the whole clap/snap thing for me, too, but she just wouldn't cooperate ... I think she is just a little bit jealous of my ability to do the windshield wiper hand wave so much better than she can.

WARNING HUGE - TOO MUCH INFORMATION - POST AHEAD - proceed with caution .. and coffee

OK- so on to the my break-down. Now, there is something at a tradeshow called drayage and this drayage thing is a very important thing to think about.

World English Dictionary
drayage (ˈdreɪɪdʒ)

— n
( US )
a. the act of transporting something a short distance by lorry or other vehicle
b. the charge made for such a transport

and I did think about it, but not too much ...

So, when you do a tradeshow and have more stuff than you can carry on a plane, obviously you have to ship your stuff to the show. I used UPS ground; it cost me $240.00 round trip for my boxes. I shipped them to the business office at the convention center at Mandalay Bay - where they charged $50.00 to store them for me for the week before the show and another $50.00 after the show to hand them off to UPS. I also brought an extra suitcase with show stuff at a cost of $70.00 roundtrip.

(I am not nitpicking pricing here, because I am willing to pay for the services I get, just giving you some numbers to float around in your head)

Now, this is where the drayage part comes in because you still have to get the boxes from the convention business offices to your booth and then get the boxes back to the business office at the end of the show.

Mine were heavy boxes and I really did have a plan to take care of this (I should mention that Pool provided a freight company to do most of this for me, but they seemed pricey on top of all my other shipping charges and I thought I could save a few bucks and do it another way).

But, my plan got a bit screwed up when I arrived at the airport with a 50 lb suitcase (the limit I was absolutely positive was the maximum, but I was absolutely positively incorrect because it turns out to be 40 lbs now - wth!) which I had to unload and get down to 40 pounds, so ... I unloaded the metal luggage carrier I had in my suitcase that I was going to use to pick up my boxes from the convention business center and carry them to and from my booth.

<-----these were my little freebie wine bottle stoppers, if anyone wants one pop me an email and I will drop a free one in the mail - our wine bottles always seem to end up empty - we never need a stopper ...

OK, so I got to the business office the morning of set up

(I should add that I called the business office on the day my boxes arrived to make sure they had received them, then I called them back and asked the guy to physically eyeball them and make sure the boxes weren't crushed, then I called them back and asked the guy to shake them and let me know if he heard any broken glass ... shipping test tubes is not for sissies ...)

and I asked the very nice guy at the counter if I could get my boxes delivered to my booth and he said "no, problem" - I gave him a map and my location and had my boxes within the hour ... so, this led me to "assume" (yes, I know) that when I needed the boxes picked up from my booth at the end of the show and brought back to the business office, exactly what I was doing right then but in reverse, it would not be a problem either ....

So ...

the morning of the last day I made two very early trips from my hotel room to the business center (through the casino, etc) with my empty boxes so they could store them during that last day, which they did.

That night, at the end of the show I went back to the business office to pick up my empties and asked the same nice guy at the counter how I could make arrangements to get the filled boxes back to the management office and he said "we don't do that- you have to bring them here." I asked if I could borrow or buy some kind of cart or handtruck and he said "nope". At this point I was just like, OK, I can carry this stuff myself.

(I have been doing Jillian Michael's kickbutt workout for 2 months, for pete's sake!)

"You can't phone it in Cat! Just do it!" --->

As I was leaving the business office the counter guy yelled to me "remember we close at 6" - I checked my phone and it was 5:15. I was still totally calm, after all I have packed up a craft show in 15 minutes or less many times.

Of course, usually after a craft show I am either - low on product because the show was good, or tossing the stuff into boxes because the show was not so good and I just want to get home. I wasn't packing the stuff up to mail.

(I should also mention that my sister, probably sensing some kind of nightmare ahead - or maybe just because she had to go back to work, had smartly left the day before and I was on my own)

I had to bubble wrap the test tubes (in used bubble wrap with the old tape still intact and if you have ever had to remove tape from bubble wrap you know how easy this is), pack everything up in pretty much the same way I shipped it so the box weights would match up to the return labels I had already purchased (again not an easy thing to do with my total lack of short-term memory situation).

(and you know how things never seem to fit back in their boxes once you take them out)

I could literally hear the clock ticking in my head. I then have to carry the 3 (two of which were heavy and one just awkward) boxes back to the business office ... through the crowds. The last box was 40 pounds, which still doesn't sound like that much to me, but trust me, it was ....

After I had shipped my 3 boxes and left the business services office at 5:59 pm I went back to the show to finish up. I still had way too much stuff left to carry back to my room in one trip.

But, I was determined to not walk what was probably 6 city blocks through restaurant lines and the casino back to my room more than once, so I totally loaded myself up with bags containing things like a metal magnetboard and a 30" corkboard, a box of jewelry and (heavy) linesheets, an awkward wheeled suitcase, a camera bag and my pocketbook stuffed with these huge bases for my floor banners (which I somehow could not fit back in the banner box for shipping).

I was kind of like a very polite homeless woman who had lost her shopping cart squeezing through the partying crowds saying "excuse me, pardon me" over and over again.

(by now you are probably thinking this has been 10 minutes of your life you will never get back but there could be a lesson in here somewhere for all of us, mostly me though)

I finally got back to my room, note- there are constant elevator lines at Mandalay Bay and no one wanted this shopping cart-less homeless woman in their elevator - so even that took me awhile - dropped all my stuff and collapsed ...

like totally collapsed. As in a great big sobbing pile on the floor. I called hubby who was watering the garden before bed and he said "just sit down and close your eyes and let me tell you what I am looking at" and he told me all about the tomatoes and peppers and melons and stars and I felt a little better.

I ran the tub and called room service.

When the waiter delivered the food, he asked me if everything was ok (yes, it was one of those big old ugly cries, that forces people to get involved even when they don't want to) and I said, "yeah, I just miss my family."

I ate dinner in the tub while watching Dr. Phil on the bathroom TV (and why, is Dr. Phil on at 8:00 at night in Las Vegas, just another strange backwards thing in my opinion) and trying to figure out what all these tears meant anyway.

My daughter called and asked how the break down went and I couldn't help laughing that my break down had created a breakdown - I mean, really wth, I have done much much, harder stuff than this, believe me.

Truly I blame Vegas

and time zones because I was waking up every morning at 4am wide awake

and the crazy constant stimulation that made me nuts. My next tradeshows will most likely be New York and San Francisco; both places I love, so hopefully I can break down the booths without breaking into the human equivalent of jello instant pudding.

I think my lessons are 1. better planning 2. I can't do everything myself 3. Vegas sucks

(I have heard from alot of people who love Vegas and I totally get that, but when a Jersey girl says a place is loud and kind of obnoxious, you have totally got to take that seriously - also you have to take into consideration that I never set foot outside Mandalay Bay, so it was kind of like living in a gigantic, crowded mall for a week)

oh, and yes, sisters are very, very important and can save your life (thank you Tori!).


wrenwillow said...

oh wow - what a rough week! You went through so much and I feel like I went through it with you!

Thanks for writing about it. Maybe it will seem funny..... one day.

Viktoria said...

Poor you! ; time flies , you will forget and laugh about, but probably it is better to save a tiny memory to avoid some troubles next time!......

Unknown said...

I almost had a breakdown just reliving this with you. I would have snapped when they guy said "no."

I'd be happy to help you in NY. I know how crazy set up and break down can be.

Glad you got this one under your belt. Experience is everything!

Maryanne said...

Wow, what an ordeal! But, good for you for doing it! You should be so proud of yourself! Thanks for sharing your experience.

M.M.E. said...

I just hope that you never have to go through something like that again. There's just something about doing it alone and having no one else to share your anger and frustration. You have a wonderful family though (and an equally wonderful waiter). I can't wait till you come to SF! I may have to stop by to say hi!

Kagan said...

You know what made that whole piece worth the read?? The part where you said your husband told you to sit down and then he told you about everything he could see. I turned right to mush with that one..you are such a lucky girl!! ((P.s.-I'm sorry about your frustration but it sounds like overall you did pretty well there so just focus on the bright spots and let the rest fade away!))

Brenda said...

You are now an experienced tradeshow vendor. :) Yay! I totally felt your determination, frustration, pain as you described your trek to your room. Thank goodness for tubs with TV and room service! (p.s., I despise all casino towns - TOO much like you said - I need to detoxify just from the smoke, alcohol and noise fumes!). (p.p.s., San Francisco!!! Then we can meet up!!!)

Anonymous said...

Aiyiyi! What a day that was! i totally feel your pain...and on the bright side, you've learned some awesome lessons. Sigh...

l'actrice said...

Sounds really tough. Hubby did the right thing though:-)

ecokaren said...

You know..... it's 12:30 AM and I'm up, reading about your ordeal and can't close the post even though I am as tired as you were in the story. And I was prepared for you to say that the office closed when you got there! Imagine if that happened? Believe it or not, you were lucky!! I know. I know. Glass is half full. But you did it! Now you know better for the next time. And when you get all those uber orders, you'll be crying because you are happy. So it's all good. Right?