Thoughts on Winter Show Season
January third when most folks are coming down from the festivities of the holidays, starting Dry January and considering dismantling the Xmas decorations, I headed for SFO and the first show of the season in Dallas. For those of you that don't know these tradeshows are the way we get to bi-annually see our existing retailers and find new ones. After the hectic run up to the holidays at home and work, our kid coming home from college, an 18th birthday, and New Year’s Eve party to plan and throw, it was time to get back in the saddle and dust off my presentation skills.
To be honest January 3rd felt a little too early this year and I was having a hard time mustering the enthusiasm and energy required. Despite this Dallas is always a fun tradeshow – our representatives in Dallas, J. Brandes, define southern hospitality, make home cooked meals for the vendors and the showroom is bright, fun, and high energy. I had a new location near another manufacturer (High Cotton) we consider a friend. I’d also lucked out and got a nearby hotel for a reasonable price (thanks Hotwire). Shuttling back n forward to a show can take up way too much time so we’ve learnt over the years to spring for something nearby. It means you can have that extra 30-60mins in bed AND save on Lyft/Uber fees.
The traffic was slow to start – it seemed like some of the retailers hadn’t had time to assess their inventory after the end of the year and hadn’t got a handle on how much they had to spend but it was great to see the retailers we did (new and old) and exciting to show them our newest product. Rumors spread that next year Dallas won’t be as early and I think that makes a lot of sense.
I left Dallas on Friday night and managed a quick non work visit with my brother in Florida. Tuesday morning, I was up bright n early to head to Atlanta, generally the biggest show of the year. After dumping my bags at the hotel, I grabbed a new CapaBunga sign for the booth we'd shipped to the hotel and headed over to our showroom in Building 2 - It's insane how many buildings and floors are given over to all things gift in Atlanta. We're on Floor 17!
After at least 5 or 6 years in the same spot we moved to the center of the showroom at Dugan Bliss, our representatives in the Southeast - we like our new high profile/traffic spot a lot. After 2 years of no shows or spotty shows we were also excited to be back and seeing customers in person. I was especially pleased to have Walt join me on Tuesday night as I was completely slammed the first day. We had lots of independents come by as well as big chain stores you'd recognize and international buyers too. It's exhausting standing there all day repeating the same thing over but it's also exhilarating to introduce our line to those who've never heard of it. This year we added the testimonial speech bubbles to the booth - we hope it will make a difference when we're not there to do the presenting.
Another bonus of these shows is meeting new exhibitors and comparing notes with other companies - this year we were opposite Jody from Jody's Popcorn - during lulls in traffic we had too much of her delicious popcorn and enjoyed the crazy story of how she started her business. Check them out.
Last show of the season was in Las Vegas, Walt and I headed there together on Saturday - buffed up the booth, talked to one prospective rep group we may work with on the West Coast and had a tasty dinner at Bouchon, one of our faves. In Las Vegas, we're in an independent showroom - it's a different way to have a presence and there's a lot of creativity in the Wild Rumpus Room but alas it's our last show there as they're closing their doors. We're looking for a new permanent showroom with a rep group but if we don't find the perfect fit we may have to return to the temps which involves a lot of set up and breakdown. We really don't relish that but we'll keep you posted.
Thanks for staying along for the ride especially if you made it all the way to the bottom 🙌🙌🙌