NSS: My Booth at the National Stationery Show

Exhibiting at the National Stationery Show at the Jacob Javits Center in NYC is one of the more exciting things I get to do as a stationery business owner. It takes enormous effort and planning, not to mention the expense, but it always pays off. And not just in dollars (although there is that) connecting with the stationery store owners around the country that keep me in business is an important reason we make the effort to exhibit.
Designing the booth was a lot of fun. For this exhibit, I went clean and contemporary. Real Card Studio is known for it's bold and colorful invitation and stationery designs, so clean white art gallery walls and shiny white floors were the way to make everything I had to show pop.

I also wanted our logo to really stand out, so I gave it its own wall. I had it laser cut out of wood, painted it black so it would stand out, and attached it with offset screws so that up close, it was dimensional against the flat white wall. Sadly, it broke when we tore down after the show so I had to leave it behind. But I was very pleased with its performance during the show.

I did not, however, leave behind my "Vapor" chairs. Made of transparent acrylic, under the right light the hot pink color made them light up like neon signs. They were my biggest splurge (beside the walls and lighting of course), but they were show-stoppers. Seating in your booth--for visitors, not for you--is important. Getting a potential buyer to take a load off while they look through your catalog is why you are there. These statement pieces did that and more.

The show is three and a half long days on your feet, schmoozing and talking. For those of us that are naturally more introverted, it's both exhilerating and exhausting. By the last day, the traffic through the show slows down dramatically compared to the first day (it starts on Sunday, and some of the shop owners that travel to the show and only stay for the weekend). Exhibitors start to get a little cabin fever, even in a larger 10x12' booth like I had.

One such slow day at the show brought me my most unforgettable moment, which was also my biggest show failure. After not seeing anyone in my booth for half hour or so, I took a walk down the aisle, just to get a change of scenery. When I wandered back in to my booth expecting it to be empty, I found Darcy Miller, editorial director of Martha Stewart Weddings magazine looking at my display. She topped the list of people I dreamed of meeting at the show, and I was so caught off guard, I didn't give her my pitch, that I'd been working on eight hours a day for the past three days. I'm not sure I said more than 'hello'. She looked at me, smiled, and walked out of my booth and went to throw confetti around with the Knot and Bow gals in the booth across from us. I wanted to punch myself in the face. I'll be ready next time.