August 7, 2007.
Okay, okay so this has dragged out longer than moving the business out of the house, or even my bathroom remodel....ha ha jokes on you, that is still going on. This will be the second to last chapter (gosh I hope) on my Atlanta Gift Show Odyssey. I thought I would include ya' all in on some people you will meet at these trade shows. Now, please do not email me or comment on this and say I am not being fair, or I am stereotyping......go to a show and TELL me you did not meet these people.
The Friendly Neighbor
This person, or I mean, vendor could be the booth right next to you, or a booth 5 isles away. This is the person that has a nice word to say to you whether there are 13 people in your booth, or you are asleep on your chair and you are catching flies. She (or he) will give you their last piece or gum, or a mint, or even if you are SUPER nice a little glass of wine. She will point out that little piece of cilantro in your teeth, or that piece of cheese hanging off your chin (Thanks by the way, you were a sweetie for point that out!) She will even keep in touch after the show and really, really like you for who you are and not NEED something from you. She will not hold a grudge if you had a great show, and if you had a bad show she will downplay her success.
The "I am NOT your Friend" Neighbor (you knew this was coming right?)
I have exhibited at three major shows, I have walked four major shows, I was in 3 permanent show rooms, I have exhibited at a ton more "not so major" shows. I have spoken to other exhibitors and vendors....I do know what I am talking about.
This person (or woman) will walk by your booth no less than 20 times past your booth that is, and pretend not to look at your work, yet as soon as they pass the booth they will do an 'about-face' and turn around and walk right past the booth again.....not looking of course. They may send their husband to walk by and gawk in and see how you are doing. They will come over ONLY to tell you how fabulous the show is going for them...even if no one has ever stepped foot in their booth. They will ask you WHY did you do this? Or what made you do THAT? And every time you talk about a small (or large) accomplishment at the show they will reply, "Oh, I already did that!"
Ms. What Have You Done for Me Lately?
This is one to stay clear of, be aware of this one. This one will come over and gush over your products, salivate all over you and all your "accomplishments" then offer to help you out at some other show, if you only do ONE little thing for them. This "person" will walk by with customers and pretend they do not know you, if you go by to visit them at their booth (stupid, stupid - should have known) they will blow you off. This one will only want you to HELP them get one of the following:
a. Sales channel
d. Press (oh did I mention this...gee, wow - must be what they kept asking me for)
Be nice, I repeat, be nice. But do not give away too much information. Just nod, smile, say thank you and maybe give them a little bit of information. You (or uh, me) do not want to look too mean, or too stuck-up. I do not look at "this person" as a real threat, if they were a threat they would not need my advice.
The "Fake" Buyer
This buyer is super sweet, she will come in, ooh and ah and ask all the right questions. She will point and smile and point and nod her head. She will ask for a catalog and ask very specific questions ("Now if I only order one what will it cost me?") and not be embarrassed about it at all. After she spends about ten minutes with you she will announce she is a. having a grand baby soon or b. her daughter may want a product or c. her sister LOVES to make crafts or d. maybe her husbands body shop could carry these some day. These "wanna-be" buyers do not bother me, they may just order on line, or they may have a need to find us on line. They do sort of bring ya down a bit though, if you were fooled by the nodding head and smiling .
The "I Just Want Your Designs" Designer (beware she/ he may carry a hidden camera)
If you have never attended a trade show you may not realize there are rules, regulations and um, ways to be polite and be niiiice. If I must tell you it is rude to steal other peoples designs, or copy other people......well then you have not been paying attention. However, apparently there are some people who do not know, or whose mothers did not tell them the famous rhyme that escapes me at the moment, but goes something like, "copy cat, dirty rat...."
1. A bedding designer was exhibiting at a show, a woman came up and asked where his products were manufactured. He sort of laughed, did not understand the question and explained he designed them with his wife and they were manufactured in China. She then said NO, I want to know who you use in China so that I can go use the same manufacturer. The kind gentlemen claimed that he was not comfortable giving that information to her. She replied that, "no, it's okay, I just want to take your designs and sell them in another country, with Arabic wording....don't worry I will give you 'a little something' ". He thought she was kidding, she was not. She left his booth very irritated and mad that he would not help her out.
2. A man with his badge turned backwards (it is very evident depending on the color of the badge to determine if a visitor is a buyer, a manufacturer, a sales rep, or another vendor) so that others could not tell where he was from. Randomly walked into booths and while others were not looking he took pictures of products. He snapped his camera, capturing images of artisans hard work and original designs. Even though security puffed their chests out and claimed to wonder out loud, "which way did he go? which way did he go?", nothing was done and he left the show with valuable information. (please note taking photographs without permission is NOT permitted)
3. A woman entered a booth and oohed and ahed over the product being exhibited. She was admiring it while others were in the booth. She grabbed her cell phone/camera and started snapping pictures of items in the booth. When the exhibitor asked her what she was doing she said, "Oh, it's fine, my daughter does this kind of stuff.....I am sure she can do this."
4. Two ceramic artists had two booths next to each other. As the first day of the show came to an end they got ready to leave and go enjoy themselves with some much needed drinks and food. However, before exiting their booth they noticed two women that had continued to walk by the booth, repeatedly, and they saw them lurking (yes I said lurking) and hiding behind another booths display (really I could NOT make this up) watching them. The two decided to stay put and wait and wait, to see what they wanted. Well they scurried away and were nowhere to be found. After waiting almost fifteen minutes, these two artisans decided to leave . This did not discourage the two lurkers though, soon after they left they soon found out that the other two came back by the booth, came IN the booth and proceeded to touch, tap and rub the products. (Please know this is SOOO not cool to do, nor is this legal.......you are not allowed to do this! Be nice, play nice people!)
And yes that is someone taking a nap under our table at the show. It is a very, very long day and we uh, well we do what we have to do. Again, I swore to not use names or uh well (psst.........it was NOT me) nicknames so that everyone was left anonymous......
Okay, so the photo was uh, well taken after much coaxing and laughing. But, that IS how you feel by day four....