It's getting hot in here so....no, do NOT take anything off - I was going to say start unpacking
Anyone who had any grand and romantic ideas that setting up a trade show booth was fun, I am going to let you down easy. It is not any of those things, it takes a lot of time. It is exhausting and back-breaking work - if you do it yourself that is. I am sure there are some major large companies that actually hire people to do it for them, alas that is not me. We have to ship our products over a month ahead of time to a company that stores everyone's booths and products they will display for the show. That very company ceremoniously just dumps the boxes in your booth, some boxes may (and will) be smashed. It is a messy, people un-packing, hanging things, sweating, bubble wrap, boxes, crates, tape, sweating, tables and bags of garbage everywhere. Still sound like fun?
This being the first time I set up the entire booth by myself, I did not realize how much time it took. I also packed way too many products, a 10 x 10 booth, missing one wall not much space for hanging wall art. Let me back up a minute :
My Little Dish and Jamie's Painting & Design had two booths side by side. We had hard walls put up by the company that does booth displays for the back of the booth and both side walls. Well they actually made a mistake on one of the side walls.....but it was free, oh oops make that second thing free in Atlanta! Looking back we should have had 1/2 the booth one color and the other 1/2 a complementing color, our booths did tend to mesh together a bit.
So, it took about 8 hours to set up the booth. It would have been easier had I packed better and used less product - here are a few tricks of the trade I wish I knew:
A large company that had tons of traffic, shipped all the products in large plastic crates. After removing all the sample products, they turned the crates over and covered them with table clothes that were fitted to make it look like tables. They then put the samples on the top of the crates - voila' table for booth. Those of us that shipped in card board (remember the smashed boxes?) had to actually put stickers on every single box we put behind, or next to our booth that said "HEY DO NOT THROW THIS AWAY we NEED to ship them back". Wonder how they thought we would get them home?
Another smart company (okay it was London) had sleeves of bubble wrap that she just slipped each and every plate out of and placed on her shelves. I uh, sort of hated her (kidding) as I cut the tape off and un wrapped every single flipping tile....
Shipping products and making products for a Trade Show can be painful and expensive. Each box costs money to ship, money store, products inside cost money to make, and then money to ship back. One Vendor I met actually rents a small storage space in Atlanta with her standard products and IKEA shelving (note to self MUST go to IKEA) for the two shows she does there a year. Then, she keeps another storage locker in New York, with samples and shelving for those two NY Shows she does a year. She actually spends less money then if she kept re-shipping product to the show. She also (dang she is SMART) puts a little sticker on the NEW products, so buyers know what is new at a quick glance. I just stood around and pointed, oh and that one, and that one is new.....blah, blah, blah. It would have been much better to have little NEW signs next to new products.
IKEA(damn you IKEA -why did I not go there?) has these great white 12 x 12 tables, with legs that screw on, and stack easily, on top of each other. That company (from across the way) had those also, and they snapped and clicked them together in 14 seconds....I used tables from show, had to put table cloths over them, then begged a steamer from another wonderful vendor who came.....prepared.
So, again 8 hours on my feet, I am exhausted sweaty and in need of some food...and adult beverages, we FINALLY left the Gift Mart; Tomorrow is SHOW TIME! Having spent many, many hours, days, weeks and months on this I am glad we are almost ready. I have let other things in my life and in business slide, and invested a lot of money.........I sure hope this is a success!