Wednesday, July 21, 2010

more layout options

I had shown you an easy foam board layout for a 10'x10' booth here , by using 3, 4'x8' foam board panels per wall. You would place a panel at each side, right to the corner and overlap a 3rd panel in the center of the wall, like this (this shows one wall).
For a 10'x 10' booth, this design layout would use 9 panels of foam board.

Here is another way to plan your layout.
Find the center of your wall. Line up 2 panels of foam board so that they meet in the center of your wall. Now you will have 1 foot left of space on either side to cover up.

At this point, you can play around with your design a little bit...
1- You can start putting up your side walls now, but start at the front poles on each side, like this.
You will have 2 panels per wall, on your back wall, the panels will be centered, on the side walls your panels will be lined up with the front poles. Result will be 2 feet of unfoamed wall on each of your side walls (the area near the back of your booth), plus, 1 foot on each side of your back wall that is unfoamed. In other words, your 2 back corners will be open.

2- Here comes the fun part...well, some of us weirdos think this is fun!...
You can now decide how you would like to cover your empty space in the back corners.

You might want to use a panel that is scored down the center to fit into the corners. You can slip the excess behind your already set panels, or trim them with a sharp box cutting tool/blade.

You might decide to make a diagonal wall, by attaching a panel from your back wall to your side wall. There are no rules can do both corners differently, one as a fit corner and one as a diagonal, get creative! This can actually make your very square booth look a little bit more interesting and architectural.

* A note here on storing excess samples or supplies. If you decide to do a diagonal wall, you can actually use the space behind it for some storage! Sometimes we simply tape one side closed on the bottom near the floor and this way we can open the diagonal wall when we need to get back there. (very convenient!)

see our diagonal wall (below) on the right, we displayed our press features on it.
we also kept the trunk in front of it to keep the wall in place!

we did the same thing here (below) with a diagonal wall.

If you make a mistake, cut down your foam board in the wrong place or find that your booth is not exactly the dimensions you had planned for, or the perfect square you had hoped for, don't sweat it, once it's all up and your samples are displayed, if a seam is not perfect, or if one wall is not exactly the mirror image of the other, it won't show...relax, no one will notice! If you need to cleanly run white tape down all your seams to keep things straight and secure, do it! it will look fine (try to use matte rather than glossy tape for that!), if you need to use some heavy duty clamps or extra velcro tape or hot glue- do it!...this is all illusion, it doesn't have to withstand weeks or months of use, it's temporary and really just theater, keep that in mind!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


By now, you have probably noticed that some of the photos of my booth  feature shelves on the foam board walls...These amazing shelves were the perfect size and weight for trade shows and were available at Ikea for years, to make matters even better (at the time), they ran about $3 per shelf, can you believe it? They called it the STRIPPA shelf (trust me, it is taking every ounce of restraint I can muster to not comment on the name).
Back to the perfect $3 shelf. Kind of too good to be true!...Yes, yes it was! Ikea does not make them anymore. (Waaaaa WAAAA, can you hear that disappointment music?...) I will post a bunch of close up photos of them however, when I am reunited with them in August at the show, if you know a carpenter or woodworker, you might be able to have some made, the construction is crazy easy.
If you want to use another type of small shelf, you can, and hanging them might sound like a process, but in actual fact, it is not that horrible to do, it just takes a little patience, some measuring and some organizing.
Here it goes.

Basically, what you are going to do, is sandwich your foam board between a strip of wood and a shelf,
that is how the shelf will stay up.
In the case of the STRIPPA shelves, there were simply 2 holes supplied, right in the shelves to hang them up.
A screw in each and presto, the shelf was up.

here's a closer shot of a single shelf, you can see where the screws go in on either side of the clipboards.

My process went something like this.
1- I would decide how many shelves I wanted to use and where I wanted to place them on the walls.
2- I would organize my 4-5 ft wood strips and drill holes about a half inch from the top of each one (hole should be wide enough to get a tie wrap through).
3- I would tie wrap the strips of wood to the top pipe (through the drilled holes). The strips of wood would now be hanging down from the top pipe/bar.
you can repeat this step as many times as you need, ie: if you want to put 3 shelves up on this back wall, you will need to tie up 6 wood strips, 2 per shelf. You can do the same for your side walls.

4- Once my wood strips were in place, I would place a sheet of foam board in front of the wood strips, essentially hiding them. For example, if I was starting to put up my foam board in this example on the left side of the back wall it would look like this.

 5- Before you do anything else, it's time to attach a shelf!  I would simply hold my shelf where I wanted to hang it, have a helper hold it, or have the helper reach around and hold the wood strips in place, and drill! (I liked to put my handy little level on the shelf before drilling, just to make sure that it was straight)...As I drill the screw through the shelf holes, they go right through the foam board and into the wood strips behind it. The wood strips ensure that everything is solid and tight and able to bare weight without the foam board tearing. In essence, the wood is carrying the burden of the weight and the foam board is simply sandwiched between the wood and the shelf. It's that easy!

later that day...

but, here's what it will look like (without xray vision)
So, there you have it...the process I used to put up sturdy little shelves in an unstable little world!
I will be testing out lots of new ideas at the show this August however, as I am working with testing out all their really cool products! I can't wait to share ideas, tips and tricks!

now we are getting somewhere!

I was lucky enough to get a comment from the NYIGF on some of the concerns I wrote about in this post .
If you haven't seen it, here is what was said:


Thank you for your comments, and participation in the New York International Gift Fair. We appreciate the hard work (and expense) you invest in creating a dynamic booth display.

With the hope of answering some of your questions…
Foam board provided at GLM-managed tradeshows at NYC's Javits Center is flame resistant. As there is only one US manufacturer of flame resistant foam board, costs related to production and meeting EPA standards are high. Additionally, Javits Center union labor charges - for installation and removal of each panel - are included in the price per board. (Of note, Georgia is a right-to-work state, in which unions are not required.)

Regarding booth carpets at GLM-managed events at Javits: after four uses, 60% is sent to Mexico for reuse by needy families; 10% is reused by dolly manufacturers; 30% is not recycled (but they’re working on it). Aisle carpet is saved and 100% is reused/recycled at our insistence.

We are looking forward to a great show in August! In the meantime, feel free to contact us with any additional questions.
Cate Salvatore, on behalf of the NYIGF

The timing was perfect, and the information pertinent as we are presently talking with 2 fire retardant companies about toxicity levels and product specifications/ details in terms of just this subject...stay tuned...this is getting really good!... How great would it be if exhibitors could get all they need to make a fabulous booth direct from show producers at affordable pricing? I say it would be win win! agree?

Monday, July 19, 2010

round poles, flat poles...

This is a quick post to let you know that whether your booth comes equipped with round pipes
(photo A)
or flat pipes (photo B) (sounds strange, but some do!)

you can attach your foam board to either.

If you are not getting too fancy (ie: putting up shelving or hanging anything that is heavy to the foam board) the quickest way to attach your foamboard to the pipes is using heavy duty sticky velcro tape.

I love this stuff! But remember, it is STICKY! You won't be able to re-stick it on your foam board once  you have stuck it, you get one chance for this only!
You can buy this at hardware stores or even some office supply stores, I go to or usually. It has 2 parts to it that "Velcro" together, one strip will stick to the other, and both strips have sticky outsides. Simply take a good sized piece of it, stick it to the back of your foam board up close to the top edge (but not over the edge, still on the back), peel off the other side and stick it right to the pole/drape/curtain...whatever it is. Presto, your wall is up! I know right? so simple!...

Another popular way to hang foam board to booth structures is using tie wraps, or cable wraps,
these thingies:

Basically the easiest way to use them is to puncture a hole through your foam board a couple of inches below the top edge and stick your tie wrap through the hole from the front, then around the pole/pipe and then secure it closed, you can clip off any excess tie wrap bits that are ugly, too visible or sticking up. DO NOT tie the tie wrap SO tight that it rips your foam board, because then, you are in trouble. Tie them just tight enough to hold them in place and then use some tape or velcro to straighten them out and position them.

Now, this whole sticking the walls up part  is quite simple, but take my advice on a couple of things

1- Make sure that the bottom edge of your foam board is ON the floor, don't try to hang it up an inch or so above the floor- your board will be straight and much stronger if it is ON the floor.
2- Plan your foam board layout BEFORE you start sticking stuff up willy nilly.
For example, if your booth is 10' x10' and you know your foam board is 4' wide, how are you going to plan your walls?...decide if you want to start with 2 sheets of board up against each corner (or side wall) and then one overtop, in the center. In other words, the center sheet would overlap on each of the side sheets, like this:

You would then repeat this same process on each of the side walls, thus using a total of 9 sheets of foam board.
*Remember, if you are going to use any sort of a clamp type lighting solution, the clamps will also help to secure your foamboard to your booth's structural pipes.

I will give you several more layout possibilities in the next post, stay tuned! 

trunk obsession

I have this weird little obsession, I love trunks! I love good looking, rather masculine looking trunks! I have lugged trunks home from Europe, bought trunks at flea markets, have one that my parents bought together more than 40 yrs ago and I even use one of my favorite trunks in my trade show booth, (I wrote about it here).
The other day, while working on a design job for a client, I ended up on the restoration hardware website. More specifically right here.

OMG! BEAUTIFUL....don't you think?
I have never been a huge fan of Restoration Hardware, actually, come to think of it, I am not sure why not?...these are gorgeous! Nice work RH!

Friday, July 16, 2010

your booth and you! a love/hate relationship.

After the previous posts, you might be asking yourself how I could possibly have more to say about foam board...I do...lots more! After using it for years, I have had coups, and, I have had terrible mishaps, I have found great ways to use it, stick stuff to it, hang it, hang stuff to it (even heavy...yes, I CAN!, and will show you how) and embellish it and make it look interesting and architectural...
But do you know what one of the best things about foam board is? When the show is over, I walk out of the convention center and I leave it there...that's right, I never look back...I walk right out! Why? Because at about $20 per sheet and given the fact that foam board would not travel very well on my single pallet, I say, forget it, move on, let it go, buh bye!
As you learned in a previous post, and from links, foam board is made of foam on the inside, HA, go figure! Therefore, if you step on it, puncture it, rip it or scratch it, you really can't repair it, unless you use tape, and a sheet of foam board with tons of tape keeping it together is not sleek or elegant (remember that!).
So, in my humble opinion, move on, for the few hundred dollars that you will spend on booth stuff that you will leave behind, trust me, it's worth it. You will save time, energy, headaches and your pack up will be so much speedier, and as you know, or will know soon enough, when the show is over, the show is OVER, you just want to go home. Leave the old foam board, move on and go home! (I give you permission).
Although that is definitely a PRO for foam board, because you get out and get home quickly, the obvious CON is that you have spent some money on something you can't really reuse. Unless you have the HUGE box that the foamboard came in (and you might not get the box unless you ordered a box full) and a big enough pallet/crate to ship it properly so as not to have it damaged during shipping, you are NOT going to want to reuse it.
Recyclers, reusers, people greener-than-thou, please accept my apologies now and don't moan about it, this is my advice, take it or leave it. I look at it like this, extra hours, extra wasted energy, extra shipping, thus extra fuel consumption, all that to then show up at the next show and see your do-gooding fall to pieces because your recycled foam board has shown up all crapped up and broken...SO NOT WORTH IT! If you can make it work, and keep it for a couple of shows, you are my hero and you should definitely start a blog about how to preserve and ship foam board and link it to me, or at least, a blog post about it.
Cool, now that's out of the way.

Factoid: At this point you should really know that for some crazy fabulous reason, the booths at Americasmart in Atlanta can be foam boarded for you for a VERY reasonable price, and there are even quite a few color choices. Wondering if you should spend the money?, I say YES, let them do it for you, they do a great job. I don't have too too much that is positive to say about the Atlanta show (Gifts and home furnishings market specifically) but this foam board option is amazing. I can't for the life of me understand why it is so affordable in Atlanta and so outrageously expensive in NY, and the Atlanta job is 100% better too (with a wooden structure behind the foam board even!), one of the many mysteries of the trade show universe, I might need to further investigate one day.

Here is an example of your booth that you just spent tons of money on, this one is your basic 10' x 10', you might even get a wastebasket and chair if you are lucky, rest assured, they will be ugly and old.
You will likely get a cardboard sign with your company name on it and possibly the booth number. You will most definitely toss it in the supplied wastebasket, smart move! It's really ugly.
Your show will likely have a show color that is chosen for the carpet, depending on which section you are in, or you can pay more money and choose a custom color that can be installed for you, also relatively ugly, if the carpet is black, heads up, it will absord TONS of light, expect to either really EXTRA light your booth or have a darker looking booth.
This kind of booth is called a pipe and drape booth. Pipes fit together to make up the structure of the booth and ugly, usually beige satiny drapes are hung on 3 sides for your taking down/ covering up/ hiding pleasure.
Some shows have not so ugly drapes, in our present juried in section Studio, at the NY show, we have an off white stretched canvas/muslin type fabric that is on the walls. It's actually not that bad, looks much better than than the usual drape used and yes, we pay lots more to be in this section.
Do we cover it up? We certainly do! (there goes that!).
We also opt to not have carpet in our booth. We will get to our flooring soon, (in a rush? I mentioned it here) but last we checked, apparently the shows are cutting down hundreds of ugly synthetic forests and plants to make the horrendously expensive ugly carpets exhibitors can order, word has it that they do not recycle them or reuse them, they are simply thrown out at the end of the show...hopefully someone will comment otherwise, but last we checked, that was the story and I don't like it!
Save a synthetic ugly carpet tree, opt out!
Are you getting impatient now? Wondering how we went from this:

to this:

or this, relatively painlessly and quickly?
Stay tuned, next post, how to actually get the foam board to hang on the walls!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Definitely a common question these days...FOAM BOARD! is the simple answer.
What is foam board (aka foam core, foam core board)? it's this really cool stuff that is best explained by the experts, so I will refer you here. You can also look here, and here.

There are a gazillion options for your walls, and I have tried several different looks. I have used colored draping that I hung over the supplied walls or drapes using metal S hooks (lots of ironing involved, in my opinion they always looked a little too drapey and not quite sleek enough). I have used painted canvas that I equipped with silver grommets on the top edge for hanging, and again, although less drapey than drapes, still not easy to keep flat and smooth looking. So far, short of building custom walls out of wood, which I have never felt compelled to use (for a few very key reasons that I will mention below*) Foam board has been my best wall choice to date in terms of ease, expense and overall look.

*Wooden walls would be ideal for certain situations, using sheets of plywood or ie: super easy to paint, super easy to drill into (think shelves, hooks, anything really), however, for me, unless you live around the corner from where you will be exhibiting, or have a budget and can hire a carpenter/handyman/painter, delivery van and installer, well, you are likely not even reading this blog post, because you have an unlimited budget and all of the above staff on hand...if you do have the budget and staff on hand but are still here reading this blog post, first off, hi! and if you need a new booth concept and want to hire someone to do that part, call me now. (seriously).

So, back to foam board.
We use the large 4' x 8' sheets, so far, in white. You can buy black or white at most art stores or art supply companies and some offer custom colors or an array of colors that you can choose from. The price difference between the white and black and color is usually quite substantial, if you have the time during set up, Foam board can be painted using acrylic paint and a roller, so you could actually make it any color you want! Our supplier of choice, by far, is
I repeat! BY FAR! why? Not only do they deliver in a bunch of show cities, if they don't deliver, their customer service is so amazingly outstanding that once, in DC, they actually sent an employee with us to help us walk the many sheets of foam board to the convention center from their retail store (many blocks)...see why we love them? ...and guess what? that's not all, I have another amazing story to tell you about them a little later.

Factoid: Foam board is light and easy to move around and lift, 10 or 20 sheets together?, not so much, it gets heavy and rather awkward to maneuver.

Foam board will run you about $17 to $22 per sheet (4' x 8' sheet, or 48" x 96") the 2 thicknesses that you will usually find are 1/2" or 3/16th", we use the thinner 3/16th thickness and the prices here are for this thinner version. You can usually buy foam board in boxes of 25 sheets, you will see this online alot, but most places will sell it to you per/ sheet. will sell you the number of sheets you need, you do not need to buy a huge box. A great solution is also to call some other exhibitor friends and order together, this way you can share a box or a few boxes if necessary. Utrecht Art will deliver to the Javits Center usually for FREE, depending on which day you need it. For the gift fair, it's usually perfect for their Friday delivery and almost always arrives at around noon. We organize to have someone available to run out front and receive it- or a few people if the order is big. This door to door delivery in NYC is a trade show exhibitor's dream!!!!  While we are ordering foam board, we usually order our flooring with Utrecht Art also, depending on what we are using, our last show, and this upcoming show, we used, and will be using a glossy mounting board for our flooring, it worked perfectly! More on the floor a little later...
Are you finding this information helpful? have I told you anything you didn't already know? are you looking forward to what's next? let me know, leave a comment.

a quick word on booth location and lighting

At this point, you probably have a booth and want to make some changes or just streamline a little bit, or, maybe you are considering getting a booth at an upcoming trade show.
Either way, there are a few really important things to consider.
Location. Yes, like with anything, location is important, but maybe not as important as you may think. You absolutely do not want that little screwed up booth lost in some back corner by the broom closet! I remember once I had a booth in building 3 of AmericasMart in Atlanta (it was one of my very first shows) and I couldn't find my booth! GREAT start! if you can't find your booth, how are the buyers supposed to find you? They didn't!...It was nightmarish!...
No show producer will appreciate me telling you this, but if they could sell you a bathroom stall as a booth, they would!
You need not be the top booth at the top of the aisle, front and center to have a great show...and you probably won't get that booth anyhow, but if you know that you have some good, established companies in your aisle, or, on the contrary, lots of new and exciting little companies that any good buyer will want to go check out, then you should be pretty safe.
Remember, (and this doesn't apply to Atlanta...Atlanta is a whole other story, that I will get to) a good buyer will walk the whole show. They are human, they will miss stuff, they might be on a call while passing your booth and simply not look up, it happens, and it sucks...but thorough, good buyers, looking for interesting, new, innovative products, ideas, display inspiration and trends will walk the whole show. The New York Gift Fair is set out on a grid, it is organized and easy for buyers to know where they are at all times and what they have seen and not seen yet, (unlike the Atlanta show! Ahem).
So before you say YES or NO to a booth that a show proposes to you, think through the pros and cons and ask for all the information. This is not an inexpensive venture you are embarking on.

A dark booth is a death sentence! Yep, no doubt about it! Bright, sunny, inviting booths, are going to get a buyer's attention, save the dark stuff for your living room or better yet, your bedroom. If no one can see what you are selling, no one is going to buy it.
Some shows supply you with lighting, Je Love these shows! How nice is it to show up to your booth and have the lights up and ready to go?...SO nice.
Some shows supply you with lights, but, not enough lights!
Now this really pisses me off! Why? because you think you are getting a deal (you never really are when it comes to trade shows!, if it's too good to be true, like most things, it probably is. Actually, I am wrong here, if you think something just makes normal sense for the price being charged at a trade show, check again, you are probably only going to get half or a quarter of what you thought you would be getting). This last thing in brackets was NOT a joke.
So let's say you are lucky enough to get lighting in your booth and you see that it's just not enough?...then what? The show will gladly add lights to your booth...GLADLY! the upcoming show in NY this August, to add extra lights to the tracks that we are supplied with, at show site, an extra eeny weeny teeny 50 watt light will cost you about $96.50.
Here's another option, rent electricity.
Most shows will offer you an electrical outlet for about $99 or so. If you can plug stuff in, then you can clip up your own inexpensive but very lighty, clamp lights. Make sure to follow the rules on this, some shows will allow you 4 clamp lights per electric plug, others let you go crazy. Just make sure to check out your options, sometimes electricity is a much better buy than lighting, and you can use your own lighting or pick up lights for under $10 each.
like these:
remember to try different bulbs, a flood, soft light, different watts, to see what will work best in your space.
Another thing to consider is if you have a crossbar across the front of your booth or not. If so, check to see if clamping to that bar will give you the brightest lighting or if clamping to the side walls and directing the lights to different areas works better for you. If you plan on bringing your own lighting, remember that you will need extention cords and a power bar so that you can plug the lights into something and turn them on and off with just one switch, this is very helpful.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

once you have set up...what will happen to your boxes and pallet?

In the last post, I gave you some resources and ideas on how to get your product and booth stuff into a convention center and what to do with your product at the end of the show (how to get it out, and where to keep it if you're like me and just you don't want to take all home with you).
You might be asking yourself some questions at this point?
What will happen to my empty boxes or bins during the show?
Where can I leave my pallet?
What about all my extras, like my tool box? ladder? or my big bulky winter coat? where can I hide it?
No worries...I've got you covered. I've lived through it and I have found solutions (if you have better solutions, be a sport, let me know! thanks.)
First thing is storage during shows.
"Empty" is what the shows call your shipping boxes, cartons, bins, etc...they will want to give you big bright stickers to place on your empty stuff, so that they can take it away and store it for you during the show. Very kind of them, and, at many shows, this will be the simplest solution, so do it! ....However, (yes, there is a huge HOWEVER)...If the show you are exhibiting at is, for example, off the top of my head, how about at...THE JAVITS CENTER in nyc...this will be a BIG BIG pain in the ass!
Simple answer. The Javits Center can take up to 6 hrs after the closing of a show to get you your Empties back...If you are anything like me, this will not be good news to you. Trust me, these guys are not sitting around having lunch or sleeping in your cartons, they are working around the clock to get you your stuff, but there are 1000's of exhibitors, gazillions of boxes/ crates and pallets and, shocking as it may sound, YOU are not their priority, even though we all know that YOU should be! (don't they know who YOU are?????). As a matter of fact, many of the Empties at the Javits are taken outside and packed up in long trailers during the show, so you have to understand that it's a process to get it all back to you.
*As an ASIDE- and this is important and not everyone tells you about this...At any show, if you are going to store your Empties with the show management (as they usually require you to), shrink wrap everything you need securely to your pallet. Otherwise you just might not get back all that you sent away a few days prior. Trust me on this. When all you want to do is go home after a show and as they say in Canada "get the puck outta there!" the last thing you want to do it run around and try to find cartons, shrink wrap, a new pallet and bubble wrap...just trust me! The more organized you are the faster you will get home!
I can tell you from experience that where your trade show is storing your empties during the show will determine how fast you will get them back at the end of the show.
Chicago Living and Giving show? empties come back FAST...Atlanta, depending on which building you are exhibiting in, can range from speedy to "OMG I am just going to walk out of this place NOW and never look back!", Boston, a small show, never waited long. So be safe, just ask. Ask someone who knows and if they are not sure, ask someone else. If you can, ask to be taken to where they will be storing your empties, or simply follow them, and then you'll know. (Although, this will probably not work at the Javits Center!, but at the least, they will tell you where they are taking it).
Let's say you are at the Javits, the show wants to take your empties far far away to a far away land of cartons and pallets and bins and you decide - "OH NO YOU DON'T, BlueDogz Design told me this might happen!" What should you do?
Here are some of my tips.
If you packed in cardboard boxes, break them down and flatten them out, it's always easier to hide a flat cardboard box than an actual 3 dimensional box. If you have packed in bins, like I do, stack them one inside the other as much as you can and then if you need storage for bubble wrap or extras, put it all in the top box.
Usually, during my booth design layout process, I account for my empties. I know, maybe a little too anal for some, but from experience, this kind of organization works for me. As you can see, my last booth in NY had a 4 foot table used as a display piece, I actually had my 4 empty (or relatively empty) bins hidden under this table, all my extra bubble and packing wrap and my tool box.

As you can see, I incorporated my fabulous silver trunk into my decor (I hate to brag, but the trunk is to die for! what's worse? I only paid $20 for it at a flea market...HA, a shopping coup!).
Not only does it look cool, and add some sparkly and shine to the booth, it is great for storage of coats, bags, extra shoes, catalogs, pens, bottles of water and order sheets, supplies that we need on a daily basis during the run of the show. Believe it or not, between these 2 pieces, all of my extra stuff is hidden away...except for my pallet. Ah the dreaded game of hide the pallet!
Ok...Scooch in closer now and keep what I am about to tell you quiet...
You can actually hide stuff in the Javits Center...The show would KILL me if they knew I was telling you this, but if you are quiet, cool and a teeny bit ninja-like, it is a relatively easy thing to do, here's how.
Often, at the very end of aisles, there are empty areas or areas where the show has put up extra pipe and draping to hide ugliness or extra show junk. Take a look behind the curtains, you might find the perfect spot for your pallet...the time to do this sort of thing is as late as possible at the end of set up day, or even early in the morning on the day of the show's opening...this is because, chances are, most things have been put away and not much else will be moved around or packed up at this point...usually you are safe and your stuff will be untouched. You might want to clearly mark your booth number, name or cell number on your stuff/pallet, so that if someone needs to move it, hopefully they will be kind enough to let you know.
Another option is to make friends with an exhibitor that has all or some of the following;
a booth at the end of an aisle, against a wall, or with an area that looks like it could be easily used to hide stuff, often these areas have a dead space behind them, perfect for hiding...BE NICE, BE know the old expression, "you get more bees with honey than...", yeah, you know it...LIVE IT! offer to buy them lunch, a bottle of wine, a few water bottles, something....they are doing you a BIG favor! Plus, let's face it, being nice, is, well, nice!
Another option? seek out an exhibitor who does one of those drapey decor jobs. You know, the booths that use numerous long tables all draped in fabric...if they are not hiding stuff under every single one, you can ask if they would mind if you hid a few things under one of them...getting the idea now?
Don't worry if an exhibitor snubs you or tells you NO...there are creepy people everywhere, but most are really nice and you can capitalize on the whole good karma trade show vibe that goes on pre-opening. Yep, it's alive and well. It should be! It's kind of like the trade show world's version of paying it forward in a screwed up trade showish way.

a shrinkwrapped pallet in the middle of our bare booth...

Did my last post stop you cold? did you wonder, "how did she get her booth delivered on a shrinkwrapped pallet?, "was that expensive?", "complicated", "how how how?"...
Relax, here is everything you need to know.
First off, what's a pallet (aka, a skid)? (alright listen, if you don't know what a pallet is, you are really new at this, but that's ok, I won't tell anyone and I will even show you a photo of one) you go. Most standard pallets in the USA and Canada are 48" x 40". If you need one at the end of the show at the Javit's Center, you can usually ask one of the guys out back on the docks and you will be able to get one, do NOT expect this to be as easy on the Piers in NYC or other shows necessarily, so be organized. If you are looking to find one in your area, you can call shipping companies or even ask a local business in your area that ships alot or receives alot and they should be able to point you in the right direction. They are not feather light, most good sturdy pallets weigh around 30 to 40 lbs, so expect to pay for this extra weight when/if you are shipping your goods.

want more pallet info and the complete history of pallets? (not sure why you would?  but heck, I'm thorough, here it is: .

Another little detail at this point, shrink wrap!

Basically, with good quality shrink wrap and a bad case of dizzy when the job is done, one can pretty much securely attach anything to a pallet. Just pull tight and start circling your pallet with the wrap, and make sure that you also circle the actual sides of the pallet, this will keep your stuff attached to it, a kind of important will be amazed at how secure you can get stuff on there!
In an ideal pack job universe, everything that you will need to set up, exhibit, write orders and pack up at the end of your show, will be shrink wrapped to this pallet, perfectly packed in perfectly fitting boxes that all line up and make a perfect cube...perfectly up to about 4 ft in height...but let's face it, nothing is perfect! (well, except my daughter...but we won't go there right now).
Here is an excellent step by step guide to how to shrink wrap, .
You would be amazed at what my pallet looks like and what I can get on it. (I will take photos of it the minute I am reunited with it in NYC in August, promise!) But long story a little bit shorter, I can get ALL of my product samples, 6 ikea display tables (which I am really just lugging around and not even using at this point), 1 round wooden table with heavy legs, tools, sign, a step ladder, a fabulous silver trunk, booth chairs and catalogs onto 1 single skid! To save on time and space, I found that packing all my product samples into large plastic bins with some layers of bubble wrap to keep things safe has really cut down on packing/ unpacking time, breakage during transport and stacking ease and uniformity on the pallet. Where can you buy shrink wrap? any packaging store or supplier like or even your local or store...wondering if the rolls you see with the cardboard handles are worth buying? YES! they definitely are!
For those of you who are going big, you might want to look into a crate or custom packing system on wheels. You will definitely increase your shipping expenses, but it might be worth it depending on your products or needs. I am not going to go into detail about this sort of thing, because I am really geared at helping the companies that want to do this trade show thing as painlessly and inexpensively as possible. But here is a photo of what a crate would look like.

Where is my pallet when it's not in my booth?...
ah, the question of the day...
I know right?, my warehouse is out in California, I live on the east coast and my pallet is stored in New right?...well, actually, it's quite simple.
There's this guy... Stuart Stockelberg...and he takes care of all of it for me! (love him!)

He works with a company called and they have changed my packing and shipping and moving to and from trade show procedures from complicated and tiresome to simple and affordable.
Since most of my shows are (were) on the east coast, I decided that I was tired of moving my stuff around, these guys pick it up right out of my booth after the NY shows, and bring it in (or ship it) to the next show. They are connected with a storage warehouse and the one pallet costs me roughly $35 / month to store in NJ, so in between any shows, I simply leave it there and pay the storage. The in and out of the show shipping usually runs about $125 each way, sometimes more, sometimes less, depending on how heavy it is. I have also used them to ship my pallet to other shows, sometimes they quote better than anyone else, sometimes they don't, you have to check, but the service is fantastic and these guys KNOW trade shows, so you don't have to worry about hidden charges or delivery into convention center prices. There will be no surprises and I highly recommend them.

Of course I encourage you to shop around, as there are other companies offering these services, likely even at the Javits Center or connected to your show, they might work out swimmingly, or not, just do your homework and ask exhibitors who have used the company you are considering hiring.

Monday, July 12, 2010

here comes NYC again...

I confess, I used to do the whole circuit of trade shows, Atlanta, Chicago, New York, sometimes Boston and San Francisco, plus, sales reps would do some of the shows in Dallas, LA, Seattle and Portland with my line...I believe that my sales would be alot higher if I added a few more shows to my present list. I know that my expenses would be a boatload higher if I added more shows to my present list. What's my present list you ask? New York International Gift Fair. The show I love to hate, or hate to love...(it's a long story).

It's July 12th. In a few weeks from now I will be trading my Beetle for my father's SUV, praying baby will have a nice long nap (in an ideal world, 6 hrs or so), packing up my odds and ends and heading to what I inevitably say will be "my last trade show EVER!"
I will head out early in the morning on a Friday and get to NYC around 2pm. The parking game will long can we get away with parking in front of the Javits Center, can we bring in what needs to be brought in and leave the car there so that we can get a few hours of setting up the booth done? (thus saving the trip to the hotel/check in/ parking etc...?). Sounds silly, but this detail is key in saving time and energy on a set up day, ask any carni, I mean, exhibitor and they will agree!
(although highly illegal, ahem, you might be offered to "help out" one of the parking guys in front of the Javits Center and he in turn, might want to "help you out" wink wink...magically, somehow, the parking problem is not such a problem anymore, but you didn't hear that HERE!)

For the last few shows, the baby dance would then start, but I won't even be attempting it this time.
Babies are NOT allowed on the show floors during set up and tear down, understandably so, but not always a logistically easy feat for a small company without a nanny and a breast feeding Mom...anyhow, she is older now and things will be easier, there will be no baby in the booth during set up!

We will get to the bare booth, find our shrinkwrapped pallet with essentially our whole booth sitting in the middle of it and the week of craziness will ensue.

I have recently decided to focus several parts of my blog on booth set up, logistics and resources to help you! (fellow exhibitors, first time exhibitors and anyone who needs great, inexpensive, relatively simple but impactful ideas for booth design and set up). Why? you might ask.... Well, it seems my blog is getting lots of traffic from first time exhibitors or just nice folks who appreciate what I have done with my booth over the years. You would be shocked at how many phone calls and emails I get asking for help. (Dare I say, almost more than calls for orders some weeks?! no no, never!)

So, my thought is, heck, why fight it? let's see where this takes we go! if you enjoy the postings, tips, resources and help that I will be offering you, or just have a question, please leave a comment! or send and email!
It is your feedback, calls and emails that have pushed me in this direction, so keep pushing!
jacob javits convention center in NYC,
a beautiful photo that I found at
(looks so calm and peaceful, not really so much in reality!)