Veni, Vidi, Ventus --
The randomly chaotic and crafty scribblings of a deranged, wannabe artist allowed too many colours in her Crayon box.

Surgeon General's Warning: Some content of "From Pooka's Crayon" may not be suitable for: work, blue-haired little old ladies, the politically-correct, rabid moonbats, uptight mothers, priests, chronic idiots, insurance claims agents, Democrats, children, small furry quadropeds from Alpha Centauri, or your sanity.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Convention Fever!

It's that time again, or at least it seems like it in my little corner of the country. You know what I'm talking about -- convention season. The Heirloom Productions Stamp Show is the weekend of the 11-13th in Grapevine, TX, and there's a huge Creating Keepsakes scrapbook convention the very next weekend down in Houston.

It's time, they're here ... but are YOU ready?

Here's some handy convention-goers survival tips. Some of them, I learned the hard way.

1. Airborne. This product was designed by a school teacher to avoid the regular crud delivered by herds of kids. If you're prone to colds, start medicating the day before the show. Take your vitamins as well, making sure you include Vitamins C, B Complex, and Zinc, to help your immune system ward off the Con Crud. I forgot to do this last year, and I paid for it.

2. Don't leave your drinks at home. Make sure you have a bottle of water on your person at all times. Dehydration isn't fun for anyone, and fighting through crowds to reach refreshment stands and vending machines can be exhausting. Check convention rules for bringing in outside refreshments first, of course, but you should be fine with a bottle of water.

3. If you're going to take part in classes, make-n-takes, or just shopping, don't rely on the flimsy bags they hand out. By the time you leave, your hands and arms will be creased from the weight, and odds are your purchases will be crumpled. Don't go with over-the-shoulder bags, either. They just get heavier as the day goes on. If you don't already have one, a rolling cart is the perfect purchase to take with you. Just drag it, no carrying, and all your purchases and tools will fit inside. Plus, if it's a hard-side rolling cart, you have something to lean or sit on as needed.

4. Always check the site for the show. It will let you know what is added at the last minute, or canceled, so that you don't show up expecting something and get something else. While there, order your tickets in advance. They're always cheaper than at the door.

5. That said, Plan Your Day. By checking the site, you should have a good idea of what classes are available, and what make-n-takes will be there. Get there early for them, because the lines form fast. If classes offer pre-registration, and you KNOW you want to do it and will be there, register before you go. The site will also tell you what supplies you are expected to bring for the classes.

6. Not everybody accepts a credit card at a convention. And sometimes, they won't take anything but cash or check at the door to get in if you forgot to order your tickets in advance. Keep some cash on hand, then your checkbook, and rely on credit cards only if you have to. It'll save you money in the long run if you try to keep in mind what money you have Right Now, and avoid spending by credit.

7. It never hurts to walk away for a little while. If the convention isn't in your home town, step away and see the local sights for a while to avoid convention burn-out. For a show that lasts several days, this will save your sanity -- and your wallet, since you aren't shopping. Sit back, put your feet up, even return to your hotel room and unpack some of your purchases. You aren't going to have much fun if you wear yourself out the very first day.

8. Do some research. Again, the site for the show is your friend. If there's something you've been looking at, but want to see it in person, or don't want to pay exorbitant shipping costs, now's the time to buy. Also, check their normal prices so you know what they charge outside of a convention. Exhibitors often demo their products, so you can see in person how they work. Make-n-takes often allow you to try before you buy. Not sure how often you'll use something you see there? Ask, but don't ask the people behind the booth. Ask your fellow customers.

9. More research. Conventions are great for local business. Some offer special convention deals, whether it be on hotel prices, rental cars, or even dinner. However, those often come with the extra price of being extremely crowded. Look for reviews of local establishments, find places to eat off the main roads, and if all else fails, ask the locals. They know where to eat that won't be packed, and you could find a real treasure. Search for the new and different, and try to avoid chains -- you can eat that stuff at home.

10. If you take medications, don't leave them in your hotel room. Pack them with you, enough for that day. It will save you a trip back to the hotel if your plans change, or you run into an old friend and get distracted from the time. Even if you don't take medication on a regular basis, pack some ibuprofen or Tylenol, eyedrops, especially for those that wear contacts, and bandaids. Between paper cuts, and shoe blisters, your body will thank you if you remember the basics.

11. Layers are your friend. It may be cold outside, but you press several hundred or thousand people together, and the temperature rises fast. Light layers are easier to remove and store in your cart. Unless it's snowing or below freezing, leave your coat in the car. Pack hair ties if you have long hair.

12. If you make ATCs, take some with you. Make sure your contact information is on the back. This is a good way to network, and a lot more interesting than a business card. If you run a small business, take both. They'll remember you better, and you might just make a sale or three. Also remember to pick UP cards at booths. If you see something you want, but don't have the money at the time, write it down on the back of the shop's card. A small notebook can help here as well.

13. If you make wearable art, Wear It! Not only can a unique piece be a great conversation starter (I actually got a free stamp from a fellow dragonfly fan because I wore a wire-work dragonfly I made), but you might just make a new customer.

Above all, have fun!

1 comment:

Nancy Grant said...

Great tips! If I ever go to a convention I will definitely prepare myself with your tips.

Thanks so much!