Goodbye Virginia Beach…Hello Houston!


I guess its inevitable that every now and then we’ll have a trade show that’s shall we say…. challenging! Unfortunately such was the case last month when we traveled to Virginia Beach for the very first Quiltweek ever held by AQS in that location.

So before I get into the negatives, let me first tell you what I liked about this show!

First off– The convention center facilities (at left) were top notch with one of the easiest load-in and load-outs procedures we’ve participated in.

There were plenty of good restaurants in the area. The location is near perfect for us. It’s practically in our backyard with little to no traffic congestion and an easy 5-hour drive door-to-door!

The Hoffman Challenge this year was literally a wall-to-wall tribute to Prince and it was totally awesome! This piece at right was my favorite by Diane Long of Lena, IL.

And after all… its the beach in October with very little traffic and amazing weather!

But here’s the thing…as good as this all sounds,
it seemed like our trip was doomed almost from the outset!

First off- Notice anything missing in this picture at left?

Yep, someone forgot to bring her iPad with her for the show! I didn’t figure that out until about 8:15 the night before the show opened! To say I panicked would be a massive understatement!

We made an emergency run to Best Buy for an emergency iPad and got home at 915pm. It worked great until 10pm when it locked up & refused entry. I stayed up the majority of the night trying to fix it using every help board I could find online to no avail.

Long story short, no one in the convention center could fix it & sadly, Apple Support was absolutely no help. About mid-morning of Day 1 of the show I decided the only way to save my sanity (and composure) was to put the iPad aside and continue the show the old-fashioned way, using my phone/square plugin without benefit of a barcode scanner. But guess what? This wasn’t near as big a problem as I feared it would be, and if you take a closer look at the picture above you might notice that….

The foot-traffic at this show was ABYSMAL!

Here’s the thing… I don’t know a vendor in the entire convention center who would say they had a good show. It literally turned out to be the worst show on record for us! We did manage to cover our expenses for which I’m thankful and that’s more than I can say for MANY of our friends who by the last day of the show could be seen parading thru the Vendor Mall wearing a rhinestone tiara whenever their sales finally topped their expenses. It did at least add a little levity to what otherwise was a very somber, disappointing show.

I guess the big question is… WHY was the attendance at this show so poor? Maybe AQS located this show too geographically close to the overwhelming popular Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival in Hampton Roads? Or maybe the choice of a 3-day weekend (Columbus day) in a town predominated by government employees & military personnel was a poor choice? And I guess one cannot discount the likelihood that some potential attendees in eastern NC who were occupied with the more important effort to cleanup in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence.

But even if this accounts for SOME of the attendance problem, it certainly doesn’t account for ALL of it. In the end I’m glad it’s not my job to analyze it, explain it or try to offset the numbers of vendors who probably will not be returning next year (include us in that number)!

At any rate, by Friday night I sure was glad to know there was only one more day of the show left before we could pack up and go home… glad that is until 5:15am the next morning when….

The hotel fire alarm started blasting and the emergency strobe lights began flashing and we both went from “slumberville” to full-on panic in 3 seconds.

I don’t even remember getting out of bed. The entire hotel had to be evacuated and to add insult to injury it was raining outside! It did turn out to be a false alarm (30 minutes later) but there was obviously no going back to sleep. We took showers, finished packing up the room, ate breakfast and headed to the Convention Center to count the hours until we could break it all down and go home!  It did however seem like an appropriate end to a dismal week! Which brings me around to this question…

What’s the best thing to do after a bad week?

In my estimation the best thing to do is to “turn the page”… let it go and move on to the next thing, which in our case is the International Quilt Market & Festival in Houston Texas which starts THIS week!

But before we close the book on Virginia Beach,  (which I’ll gladly do after this post), let me show you how our booth set up turned out for this show and what changes we intend to make in Houston.

Overall I was pleased with the adjustments we made to our front wall setup in order to make room for the fabric we’re now carrying. It’s possible we may have two more selections from Ann Lauer’s “Cat-i-tude” collection to squeeze in for the Houston show, but that shouldn’t be a problem. So we’ll leave the setup pretty much as you see it here except for one change which will be primarily because of a problematic knee I’ve been babying for as long as I can remember (literally), and since it was barking a good deal more than usual during & after this show. I’m going to change-up my sales area for the Houston shows which will allow me to sit down a good deal more.

I’ll detail this more in a future post, but for now I’m glad Virginia Beach is in our rear-view mirror & if you live in or are coming to the Houston area next week for either the Quilt Market or the Quilt Festival, please stop by & see us in Booth #410!

Post-script info— About 10 days after the Virginia Beach show we got a letter from AQS apologizing for that disaster of a show! Amazing, right? But I’d like to have been a little fly on the wall as they were reading thru those post-show vendor questionnaires! There must have been a few “barn-burners”!

And now…. it’s YOUR turn!

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