Wednesday, May 20, 2009

National Stationery Show Saga, Part 2

This will be the portion of the blog of no interest to people never planning on doing the show, and of some interest to those who might plan on doing the National Stationery Show some day.  This section discusses some of the regulations/logistics we were concerned about as first time exhibitors.

We rolled up to the Javits Center slightly before 4.  The literature sent has mentioned that there are specific loading zones, and that we shouldn't be using the front doors.  We can't find any loading zones and the valets in front tell us to go through the front doors.  Perhaps because it's so late, it is easy to get a spot in front.  There are other people unloading as well.  I can't even imagine what this place might've looked like at 10 am.

The literature also bans certain dollies and carrying items which require two or more people.  Again, you see all kinds of violations of this. 

Lastly, the literature tells you that the show prep closes up at 5.  We unloaded our last piece at 5.  We set up until 9:30pm.  When we left, other exhibitors were still there setting up.  Apparently, on the last night before the show, the carpet crew lays new carpet down for the show and works until 2 or 3 in the morning.   They're very nice and have no qualms if you're there too.  

Our booth was an 8 by 10 in the section where the ceiling goes from low to high.  Ideally, I would have preferred to be in a location with all low ceiling or all high ceiling.  The lighting seemed lacking in the transition area.  If you're in this area, I would recommend strong lighting towards the back of the booth.

There were a couple of items which I designed flexibly in our booth in order to compensate for any inaccuracy in the setup.  The booth provided consists of a "pipe and drape" setup.  They specifically say to make a 3 inch allowance between your pipes.  I built our booth in multiple parts, with adjustable steel brackets and found them to be very necessary.  There was roughly a two inch discrepancy between our left wall and our right wall.  If I had made the booth exactly, we would have run into serious complications during setup.

There were two things I was unprepared for.  The provided drapes do not remove easily.  I thought they would just unhook and be ready to be packed away.  They're not.  They're of the variety with the sewn pocket that the rod slides through.  We had to work around them if we wanted to strap any of our own items to the pipe.  The second thing was that you share the pipe and drape with your neighbor.  I had expected each booth to have its own setup.  Depending on how you or your neighbor choose to decorate your booths, the backs of certain items may be peeking through or over.  I felt bad zip-tying to the pipe as the zip tie was clearly visible on the other side.  Placement of light clamps would also fall under this.
The pipes have about 6 inches of travel at the top end, which makes the walls seem flimsy, but I can't see any risk of tipping.

The back of the booth had a 2 foot "alley".  We stowed some of our stuff there and took little snack breaks back there.  There was a mouse running around during one of those breaks.  The power source was back there.  Javits uses weird plugs, then provides one long extension cord that ends in one standard three-prong female.  We plugged our power bar into this and then snaked everything we needed from there.  

The existing floor appears to be black painted concrete.  It's sticky.

The required fireproofing spray we purchased was never checked on.  Nor did anyone hassle me as I pulled out my cordless drill and worked on the setup.

The ultimate lesson?  All the rules don't really apply to the little guy.  I bet if Hallmark tried to break them, they'd get busted, but no one cared about the little guys in the little booths.  That is very YMMV of course.  We still followed most of the rules and would probably do our best to follow most of them in the future.  But like I've said, I have that fear of Teamsters.

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