This is the third year I’ll be attending and exhibiting at the IHHA (International Home & Housewares Association) Show, which will be in Chicago at McCormick Place March 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th. Every year, I build my booth from scratch in the garage, made of lumber and paint from the local hardware store.
The first year I did that, I forgot to account for the fact that the garage is slightly tilted. Guess that what means? Yup. Showed up at the show, popped my shelves on…only to discover they all slanted severely and needed to be re-drilled straight!!
It also was a huge learning curve. My husband and father-in-law showed up in a pick-up truck full of bins and boards, only to be told that we needed a forklift to move all of it into the center. But the forklift guys were on lunch. So…see you around 1:30pm? But wait in line on the street in your car. In the rain. So you can get the first forklift on the job.
It was actually hilarious, looking back. I had NO idea what I was doing. No idea what to wear. No idea what to tell potential customers.
But it was still exhilarating and I was able to meet so many wonderful people. And all the people in the booths around me were incredibly welcoming. And those who run the whole event have been unceasingly supportive of my work and my company.
Year two, I built a smaller booth, took the slant in the garage into factoring the design, and just my husband and myself trekked it to Chicago. We even knew what we were doing to get a forklift. And it wasn’t raining!
The second year had even better results, with bigger accounts. I discovered people didn’t expect to actually meet with the maker of the cookware. Bonus! Plus, our little corner of the expo had become best friends, so we ended evenings by bringing out coolers and drinking beer in our booths.
So soon it’ll be year three for me. Hopefully the husband will be there to help with the forklift gig. And hopefully I’ll have help in the booth enough days so I can take bathroom breaks! (Because someone has to go home and take care of the kids, so I spent many hours alone on the floor…but heck, it was still fun!)
I’m looking forward to meeting more people and seeing old friends. And hopefully sharing the cookware love with everyone I talk to!