The Shows in Philly and New York
In the early 1990s, I heard that the shows in the Northeast made some changes in how they dealt with the carpenters union. Apparently, other exhibitors also didn’t want to pay a union carpenter to do something they could do themselves. So, I looked into doing the Buyer’s Market of American Crafts held in Philadelphia and the New York Gift Show. Both shows, particularly the New York show, were notoriously hard to get into, but the Philadelphia show had expanded the number of booths, and I applied and was accepted. Both shows are held twice a year and were typically three days apart, making it easy to do the shows in one trip of 16 days. After I began doing both shows, I started flying into Philly and out of New York. It was easy to take the train to New York in between the shows.
Dues to Pay
But there are always dues to pay before you can get into the more lucrative area of the show. In the Buyer’s Market case, they wanted you to do a show of theirs in Boston, which was in the late spring (late spring in Texas, but early spring in Boston). I agreed to do the show, arranged to ship my booth, and scheduled a flight. Since I realized that the show would not be very lucrative, I asked the show organizers if they knew of anyone interested in sharing a room. I knew it could be risky to share a room with a complete stranger, but I decided it was worth the risk. It turned out to be a great experience. The man they paired me with, Michael Day, was a potter from Bainbridge Island off the coast of Seattle. I felt I had found a long-lost brother. For some strange reason, we both would wake up at the crack of dawn and go for long walks exploring that area of Boston which was in full bloom. Michael was also trying to get into the Philadelphia show, and we hit it off so well in Boston that we ended up sharing a room for several years, both summer and winter in Philly.
Planning and Logistics
Because of the distance to the northeast shows, it is necessary to ship your booth via a trucking company and hope it arrives on time and intact. Sending my booth was a new experience because I had always driven to the shows in Dallas and Atlanta, carrying all my display and products. It takes a certain amount of planning which has not always been my strong point but somehow, with the help of my employees, I got everything for the show assembled, palletized, and shipped with sufficient time for everything to arrive.
Depending on flight schedules, I would arrive late in the day, two days before the show started or early the day before the show. It takes several hours to set up the booth and take it down at the end of the show. This extra time needs to be allowed for when scheduling flights and making hotel reservations.
After a couple of shows, I got all the details ironed out, and things began to run smoothly. These shows were expensive to do especially considering the cost of shipping the booth and flying. Still, they introduced me to many shops around the country, particularly in the East and Northeast.