If you have been following the blog for a while you might remember that Mr Laura attended the Pittsburgh Spring International Quilt Market. The Markets (both the Spring Market that is held in different cities each year and the fall market that is always in Houston) are the trade shows where the pattern designers (The Creative Thimble-Laura Martell being my personal favorite), fabric companies/fabric designers, distributors, sewing machine companies, teachers, and all types of sewing related manufacturers/vendors market their products and wares to quilt store owners/buyers and each other. It is a HUGE event, a really big Shoe! (I am old enough to have watched Ed Sullivan every week). The Super Bowl of Quilt events. (One guy who was with his wife at last years festival told me he was convinced that when he sighted down the long main aisle he could make out the Curvature of the Earth!).
If you read the Spring Market blog about Sample Spree you might also remember that Mr Laura was a little scared during Sample Spree. This event is where all of the hardiest/bravest vendors sell samples of their stuff the night before the market proper starts. As “Samples Sell Patterns” for store owners, Laura makes up a bunch of samples which we package up with a half dozen of the pattern for that bag. If you read the spring blog you are also aware that Laura said the spring Sample Spree was very placid compared to the one in Houston. I thought Pittsburgh “Sample Spree” should have been renamed “Fabric Riot” so I am a little apprehensive about Houston. All of the fabric companies/vendors have sample packets of their new fall/winter fabrics available that shop owners/buyers/women will be seeing for the very first time. In a nutshell, all of the vendors set up tables in a large ballroom. In an adjacent ballroom thousands and thousands of women gather, plotting and planning to be the first ones to get to the tables of new fabric. Then they throw open as many doors as possible and bedlam begins! I am making this sound much worse than it really is, quilters are lovely people (unless you are standing between them and new fabric they have not seen yet that may sell out before they get there). Then after the initial Fabric Feeding Frenzy is over the shop owners/buyers return to being lovely people and shop the other areas (that is when I will come out from under the table).
Sample Spree day is a little challenging because it is also set up day for the Market, so in the morning we unload the trailer, set up the Market booth (put down the floor, put up poles,hang curtains, set up and cover tables and put out all the racks and displays, etc). Normally that would be it for a show day one, but now we move all of the sample stuff to the Spree/Riot area, set up the Sample Spree booth, run Sample Spree, take down the booth, pack any leftover inventory, (and bandage wounds). After that we take ALL of the remaining minutes before midnight off so we will be fresh for the morning when the actual Market starts.
Since Market is a wholesale trade show we largely are taking orders that will be filled after we get back home, however, we do quite a bit of direct sales of patterns so we bring lots and lots of patterns. Laura also wholesales webbing and zippers so we have to have all the colors and sizes of those on display. I think this market we will also bring extra rolls of some webbing as some of our non-US customers asked if they could buy a roll or two to put in their suitcases to bring back on the plane as shipping outside the USA is very costly. If we were only doing the market that would be it. We would pack up and go home, but in Houston the International Quilt Festival directly follows market so we are only half done!
The International Quilt Festival, being a retail show for individual customers (about 60,000 attendees) is even bigger than Market. Some vendors will leave, as they only sell wholesale, and many more will come set up as retail businesses. For us this means resetting from a wholesale show to retail. So we now put out display racks of purse hardware and notions that Laura carries to make it easy to find the things you need to make her patterns. This also means that we have to have on hand sufficient inventory for all these items.
Oh Man, we have a lot of work to do. I can’t be messing around writing any more today! I will keep you posted on our progress!