It is a gift show, which means you can show anything and everything. I thought this would be exciting, but it was very overwhelming. I can, however, understand if you have a gift shop, that this can be one stop shopping.
It is at the America’s Mart downtown which is 3 circular buildings, each 14 stories high. This means, instead of having a grid system, you have a circular grid system. I found it virtually impossible to find something specific and was glad that most of the stationery is housed in one section. It was a much smaller showing than NSS, which of course is all stationery. I would say there were about 100 temporary stationery exhibitors vs. 1500 at NSS.
Which brings me to my next point, there are temporary and permanent booths. The temporary booths are just that, booths that are only rented for the 5 days of the show. They are on the lower levels. But the majority are permanent booths that are owned (or rented?) by someone that then reps a bunch of lines. (I am not 100% sure how this works, but this is what I gathered by wandering around) This is where all the established brands are located. Again with the segregation like at NSS. Only this is much, much worse. There is an exception, larger brands do also rent temporary booths to give themselves exposure. What really got me going was what happened near the end of the day.
So I’m tired and ready to go home, when I wander up to the permanent booths to check them out, see what’s going on. When I step off the elevator, I hear music, I see people carrying drinks and food, beer, wine, martinis. Because they have these swanky booths, the mart will cater their booths for them and they have free cocktail parties in the evening. What’s going on in the bowels of the building? Hard work, no drinks. So I stayed for another hour, in the fancy booths. I mean, who am I to turn down a few free margaritas?
Anyways there were a lot fewer handmade companies and designer/owner companies than at NSS. It felt overall less exciting and creative.
I am going to say one more not so nice thing and then I’m going to end on a happy note. Once again, a fellow designer was rude to me when she found out that I was not a buyer. I had a few of these experiences at NSS and I just don’t understand it. I was looking at her cards and she started to sell. I told her that she didn’t have to waste her pitch on me because I’m a fellow designer. Then she said in a very smiley way that I must just be there to steal ideas. FYI: If I want to steal your ideas, I will just purchase your product and steal it, or look on your website. I’m not going to go into your booth and introduce myself, give you my card and then steal from you. I know that there are people out there like that, but you cannot stop that element from existing. So what ended up happening is that the next day, I had to change my story and tell people that I was planning on opening a store next year. I feel so terrible that I lied to people that I am generally interested in, but I felt like I had no choice.
Okay, happy note: My favorite booth was by Jen Hopwood of My Perennial. Her fabric goods are all handmade herself so check them out::
NYC pretzel zip it bag and Flower Pillow.