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National Stationery Show Recap: Part 1

by April May

Holy cow! The whirlwind that is the National Stationery Show has officially come to a close. We've been meeting weekly since January in preparation—that’s 20 weeks of planning for just 3 ½ days! Clearly there are a lot of paper nerds out there because I get a lot questions about what’s involved in being part of the Stationery Show. So for our fans (thanks for all of the support!) and just plain curious (interested in exhibiting one day?), I thought I’d recap the most memorable bits and also leave you with a few hopefully helpful tips.

PRE-SHOW

NSS 2016 Mailer | Smudge Ink
One of the very first things we tackle is coming up with the inspiration behind the booth design and all of the related promotional materials. This year we were drawn to our bestselling floral boxed note shown here, letting its shapes and colors set the creative direction. You’ll see this concept starting with our pre-show mailer which we send out to retailers inviting them to visit our booth.

Tip(s): When you have a lot of other creative stationery companies vying for attention, there is a high bar to make sure your mailer stands out against the crowd! For a good primer, read this post on Oh So Beautiful Paper. Also, be sure you have the correct postage amount when mailing these babies out. 

THURSDAY, MAY 12

NSS 2016: Making Our Way to NYC | Smudge Ink

My husband, Eric, and I borrowed my father-in-law’s minivan for the trip (lucky for us, he loves a roomy vehicle!). The booth walls, taking up the most room, were the first to go in. Everything else got squished in wherever it would fit. With the van filled to the brim, we hit the road at noon, stopping only for a totally delicious BBQ lunch at Uncle Willie's in Connecticut.

NSS 2016: Arriving at the Javits Center | Smudge Ink
Final stop: NYC! We arrived at the Javits Center and moved everything to our booth space fairly quickly. Our original plans were to only unload the van but (thanks to the pulled pork sandwiches!) we were feeling pretty peppy and decided to stay and assemble the walls. That kept us in the dark and stuffy Javits late into the night but it was definitely worth it knowing we would have less to do the next morning.

NSS 2016: Booth Walls Are Up! | Smudge Ink
Tip(s): Don’t skip lunch, drink lots of H2O, and wear comfortable shoes.

FRIDAY, MAY 13

NSS 2016: Getting to Our Booth | Smudge InkGetting to our booth on Friday morning wasn't exactly easy. First, there was the normal commuter traffic. Then, we had to skillfully navigate our way past all of the crates, furniture, equipment, and trash that filled the aisles of the Javits Center. It’s quite the obstacle course, but we made it! 

NSS 2016: Setting Up | Smudge Ink
Upon arrival, we were greeted by our still standing walls! No natural disasters or faulty engineering on our parts, yay. Eric and I organized ourselves, and then the rest of our setup crew (aka Sarah and Deb) arrived shortly afterwards just in time to puzzle together the foam flooring. We put up our sign, lighting, decals, and all of the shelving. We also mounted the large 3-dimensional display pieces Clayton had designed and created out of hand-cut paper. The making of these pieces deserves a separate blog post in itself!


NSS 2016: Setting Up | Smudge Ink
By 6 pm we'd gotten most of the products on the walls and decided to call it a day. Eric and I went back to my aunt's in New Jersey and had huge plates of spaghetti & meatballs, and I think I was in bed by 8:30 pm!

Tip(s): Bring more than one step stool, and have a spotter!

SATURDAY, MAY 14

NSS 2016: Booth is All Set Up! | Smudge Ink
On Saturday we only had some finishing touches left—making sure all of cards were placed out evenly, cleaning up the walls, floor, and furniture, setting out the flowers, etc. Done by lunchtime, we all headed out to enjoy the rest of the afternoon.

Tip(s): Leave at least a half day to decompress beforehand so you can start the show feeling fresh and ready to go. A tired and cranky disposition is not exactly a good selling point. 

Stay tuned for Part 2: The Show!

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