As promised, I wanted to share my National Stationery Show (NSS) recap and reflection with you today.
To be honest, I’ve been dreading it a little bit – sort of hoping you’d forgotten I was gonna write this, but enough people have been asking about how the show went, so I’m showing up in my full vulnerability 😆
I feel vulnerable sharing real numbers with you, but I wanted to keep it real… and if you’re a maker/designer yourself and thought about exhibiting there, I thought it would be helpful for you.
So, here are some of my goals and how they went.
Goal 1: Get at least 1 order a day
This was my low goal… I was trying to keep my expectations low because I’d never done the show before and didn’t want to be disappointed.
Well, good thing I had low expectations because I barely made this goal. Total of 4 new orders and 2 reorders.
Does that seem like a low number to you? 🤔 It did to me.
It felt pretty slow from my perspective, and honestly I was surprised I didn’t see more buyers. When I walked around, I saw some areas were bustling with people, but I was in no way overwhelmed at any point during the show.
Needless to say, I was a little disappointed.
But the quality of the orders I received was high – including my dream shop in Madison, Wisconsin, and a shop with 8 locations in Minneapolis, so that was really cool ✨
And it was really nice to meet some of my existing cusomers in real life 💕
As with any trade shows, often the reward comes after the show, and building relationships is the name of the game.
I’m grateful to have met lovely buyers and fellow exhibitors from all over the country and hope to nurture a long-lasting relationship with many of them.
Update: I’ve received two extra orders so far from the connections I made at the show. Yay 🙌🏼
Goal 2: Stay under budget
I didn’t achieve this goal 100% 💸
My budget was $10K – including booth fee ($2800), booth build out ($3500 – including 3 walls, two colors, graphics, lighting, electricity, carpeting, labor), flight, lodging, food (for me and Dave) printing marketing collaterals, shipping materials, transportations, booth furniture etc. etc.
I haven’t done the actual numbers yet, but I probably went over by 10% more or less.
I’m glad to have hired someone to build the booth for me (it’s with M&J Innovations if you’re interested. They’re great.) and it was great to have Dave with me to help, but next time, I probably won’t bring him 😬 I may still have the company take care of my booth, assuming it’ll be cheaper now that they have my materials…
It took me a year to save up for the show, and as I want to do more than one trade show a year, I’d need to be more mindful about the cost in the future.
Goal 3: Stay healthy
Well, let’s say, I managed to stay healthy during the show! 😹 I kept on top of washing my hands and getting a good night sleep, so at least I’m happy that we didn’t get sick while we were there.
Goal 4: Enjoy NYC
I’d give 💯 on this one.
Dave and I enjoyed walking around the neighborhood, went to American Natural History Museum and the MET, ate good food every day (Dig Inn, 5 Napkin Burger, Sophie’s Cuban were some of our favorites) and had a really good time there!
Thoughts & Questions:
Will I do this again?
Maybe. It depends on how things shake out in the next several months. The show itself was really awesome – so huge and everyone’s booth was so so good. I consider this the Super Bowl of stationery trade show 😆 I’m curious to try in a different spot or different season maybe. It remains to be seen.
Was it worth it?
Absolutely. I’ll change some things in the future (keep under budget, reach out to any potential buyers beforehand etc.) but I have no regrets about trying. I got lots of nice compliments from buyers and exhibitors alike, which always boosts my confidence.
It’s been a couple of weeks since the show – I’ve had enough time to throw myself a pity party and processed all the things, so I’m feeling pretty good in general. (And germ free) No need to worry. Onward and upward.
Hope you enjoyed my recap!
ps. I’ll be at NW Flower & Garden Festival next Wed – Sun! Come say hello at booth 967 if you’re around.