Thursday, February 11, 2010

Big Blur

I’m taking advantage of the “work at home” day to write this blog – on Wednesday, instead of Thursday. The snowstorm that is keeping me at home in my pjs and sipping my home-brewed coffee gives me a visual analogy of what January was for me - one BIG BLUR!

Only one week after New Year’s Day, I was on the road visiting with vendors and reps who were hard at work at other trade shows. My “road work” didn’t really end until last week – Thursday, February 4th, to be exact! Whew.

This first “show season” of the year was truly exhilarating. Buyers were out in full force – evidenced by the over-stocked coat check areas in all venues. Speaking as a show management person, this is a great sign of a robust show in a cold climate!

These buyers who crowded the showrooms, escalators, elevators, hallways and aisles weren’t just looking at “what’s new,” they were placing orders! The reps and vendors I spoke with were reporting that their sales were up over the same time as last year, and often in a double digit percentage increase. This portends the end of a bad economy, I’m thinking. Hurray for that!

A number of companies I met with will be exhibiting in the National Stationery Show for the first time this year. In Atlanta I got to spend a nice amount of time with Jennifer Carroll of Jennifer Carroll Designs. Jennifer is already very accomplished – she’s a sought-after event designer with a new book on events in the works, and now she’s designing fabulous stationery. I can’t wait for you to meet her at the NSS!

While in Atlanta, I attended the Greeting Card Association’s reception – that was a great event. There, I got to speak with Bob and Melinda Blanchard from Live What You Love (don’t know them? Check ‘em out before the Show – they have authored a few inspiring non-fiction books, including “Live What You Love” and that’s not all they’ve done.) You’ll love their story and seeing their line at the Show this May. I also got to wave hello to Alan Friedman and Lisa Samar of Great Arrow Graphics. Regrettably, I didn’t get to spend much time with them, but I’m lucky enough to see them a few times each year. I think you know that Great Arrow will be back at the NSS this May!

In Dallas, I was glad for the opportunity to meet Sarah-Allen Preston, of Preston Paper – many thanks to rep Tosha Pearson of Erik Hahn & Associates for putting us together. We just happened to be in the same place at the same time. Isn’t that what trade shows are all about, after all? (Same place, same time). When we met, Sarah-Allen had already signed on for the National Stationery Show, but it was great to meet her (and her mom) in person. She had lots of questions about exhibiting, marketing opportunities, retailers, etc. I was happy we had a chance to scratch the surface on these broad topics and a few specifics. Sarah-Allen told me that she is planning on “attending” our exhibitor webinars offered to NSS exhibitors (and of special interest to exhibitors new to the industry, or new to the show). These webinars start tomorrow (Friday the 12th). Click here to learn more.

In New York, I bumped into (same place, same time) several key reps in the stationery industry who were walking the aisles. Each one of them had a few companies they told me wanted to exhibit in the May NSS. Many thanks to you all, Dan, Kris, and Mario to name a few. I’m in touch with all you suggested.

I also had dinner with a few NSS buyers - each a member of our Delegates program. I was honored to be asked to join the group. They are from disparate parts of the country, and traditionally get together at least once during a show to compare notes about what new things they’ve seen at the show, and what they’ve already ordered. I loved watching them pull brochures, catalogs and sell sheets out of their bags to share information with each other. These ladies also gave me the 4-1-1 on their current top-selling lines, as well as companies they want to see in the National Stationery Show this May. This kind of collaboration with buyers such as Hannah, Edie, Shara and Jean (bet you know them all) and the reps is part of how we work to ensure that the NSS delivers for you – vendors and buyers alike!

Our show floor is filling up fast, and we’re excited for a great NSS to come. Buyers, please make sure you walk every aisle – there are new resources to be found on each one, and many vendors you know have taken new locations. Make sure you register to attend on our website. One buyer emailed me today asking if she could bring an employee with her – the answer is a resounding YES! You don’t have to go it alone – just register your employee online when you click through to get your badge.

Those of you considering exhibiting – now is really the time to jump in and claim your space so that you can get your great line in front of the passionate, dedicated buyers who will be at the Show in full force this May! Drop me a line or apply online.

Until next time -

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