Friday, October 23, 2009

details details details

In getting ready for the Metropolitain Cooking and Entertaining Show that's coming up in less than 2 weeks in Washington, I have found myself, once again, stuck deep in the depths of trade show preparation and details. I pretty much have NYC down to a science, I know on my drive down, what I need and where I can get it, from my booth flooring from the Home Depot to the wood slats I use to put up my very simple and effective Ikea shelves. I even get together with a few other exhibitors who do the Gift Fair and we order foamboard together (gives your booth a hard wall look for a much less expensive price and you can walk out of the booth and leave them at the end because for the price, they are NOT worth saving) through Utrecht Art Supplies in NYC. We organize it so that someone is at the Javits Center at the right time and Utrecht delivers it right to the door for us on the first set up day, so convenient!
We actually have a skid that stays in the NY area now.
After each show, we pack up our samples and booth decor (tables, chairs, shelves, booth sign etc) and shrinkwrap it, then we walk right out of the Javits Center and that's that. We have
Service By Air pick it up (right out of our booth) and they store it for us and bring it in or ship it out to our next show.
Storage for the one skid runs us about $35/month, plus we pay for transporting it in and out, (they will ship it from coast to coast if that is what you need).
This costs us less than shipping everything back and forth all the time in between shows and saves us on logistical headaches and organizing. We keep almost all our needed supplies on that skid (a tool box with everything you would possibly need to set up a booth) even a step ladder, our electrical cords and clamp lights. New samples are usually sent from our warehouse to our hotel in NYC or a local Fedex office and we get fresh flowers and any little details we need at each show.

So now we are going to DC, and, it's not a trade show, but rather a retail show.
As mentioned
here, we need to think about presenting, stocking and selling, rather than simply displaying and order taking (as with wholesale trade show).
Once again, baby Tess will be accompanying us, but this time we will not be driving, but rather flying.
We have decided to not rent a car. We are staying close to the convention center and we will make it work without the added expense and hassle of driving around to pick up supplies and schlepping a 7 month old along.
Originally, I had thought about hiring a DC area rollergirl to do some running around for us, (another wonderful example of how great it is to be part of the rollerderby community/network), to pick up flooring, do an Ikea run for us, etc but after a steady run of unforeseen obstacles, even that wasn't necessary.
The final decision was that we would not get our skid sent to DC, (we only need about 1/3 of what is on it) and to incur shipping expenses for only 1/3 seemed silly. Great! one big decision made!
New problem, what kind of booth decor would we use and how could we get it done quickly and inexpensively without our usual booth stuff on hand?
We could do the Ikea run; pick up new Strippa shelves (at $4 each we can afford to leave the others in the NY area and just buy more). NEWS FLASH! Ikea no longer makes Strippa shelves! F#%K!
To make a very long story a little shorter, this type of situation just seemed to keep happening, we would get 3 steps in and then BOOM, it wouldn't work.
Here's what did work.
Utrecht Art Supplies worked! May I just say, "Utrecht, I love you!", the customer service is amazing and they always seem to come through when no one else does!
Conveniently, they have a store just blocks from the DC Convention Center (YES!), I called about foamboard and that was absolutely NO problem. When I asked if they could deliver, they told me not to worry, a couple of guys will help out or walk it over to the convention center, it won't be a problem!
Cool, walls taken care of.

Then came the flooring issue. We usually use this relatively inexpensive, (very heavy), white coated masonite that comes in 4'x8' sheets at Home Depot. We get it cut into squares to fit nicely over the floor of our booth (we tape it together with white tape) and it also fits into the car to transport to the convention center, (usually 3'x3' pieces or so).

As mentioned, we are not renting a car, so there goes that idea, but what to do to get the sleek, glossy white backdrop of a booth that BlueDogz Design products look so great on?...
Once again, our fabulous friends at Utrecht saved the day. I explained the issue and what we were looking for and they had a bunch of great, disposable, inexpensive ideas to get the look we are after, we have decided on shiny white mounting board. We are quite sure it will hold up for 2 days of traffic, it is sweepable, so we can keep it clean and it is the look we are after. YAY!
Now what about those shelves?
My usual shelving process with foamboard is, may I say, absolutely ingenius! (Yes, I said it. I wouldn't normally brag, but this process is pretty darn brilliant, see photo just above). I am constantly asked how I get the shelves to stay up on foamboard, I should write a book on it (hmmm) I will share, promise, stay tuned.

Well, this is where a sudden new design was born! Xnay on the shelves for this show, we are going bold, graphic and new....(and heck, it will eliminate the whole power tool, wood and shelving process...take note, I just let some secrets slip out). The entire back wall, 8 ft high, by 10 ft wide (which will look like a sleek white wall, thanks to the foamboard) will have fabulous BlueDogz Design clipboards hanging all over it, on little clear adhesive hooks. We will be able to get approx 10 across in approx 6-8 rows, trust me, it is going to look stunning! In the middle of the wall, we will have our new sign (I love it! you?)

In terms of booth furniture, to display all of our, displays and products, we have decided to simple rent 2 large ugly trade show tables from the venue (one 4 ft long and the other 6 ft long) and do something special to them (once again, stay tuned, I will show you step by step how to transform ugliness to utter fabulousness!) ...I will also share info on how you won't need a phone line (for $400) to process credit cards, how you won't need the convention center's $99/day wifi, to get on the internet (hopefully) and how you don't even need to buy an aircard to get unlimited WIFI service for less than $10 a day with no contracts.
Damn, I am starting to sound like an infomercial. 
Fine, but if you do shows, you are going to thank me for doing all your ground work for you!

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