by Tom Triplett, Content Development Manager, Exclusively for Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®
Read about all of the exciting adventures from the Bead and Button show, shared from each day of the event by Tom T., Content Development Manager.
Wednesday, June 4, 2014
Greetings from Milwaukee, Wisconsin!
Most years I have lots of entertaining travel challenges to report on; not so this year. All our flights were on time and the air was very smooth so there was a minimum of turbulence. We even arrived in Milwaukee a bit early and our shuttle service worked with us to get a van right away. So, it was about 2pm central time when we got to the fabulous downtown Milwaukee Hilton hotel. We checked in expecting our rooms might not be ready, but were able to get our rooms immediately. All and all, everything went as planned, which is really nice when you've been traveling since 3:30am.
The Fire Mountain Gems and Beads team unpacks and sets up the booth on the showroom floor.
I have to say that I was a bit cranky from not eating all day, so I kind of insisted we get "FOOD NOW!" Everyone was hungry, so it wasn't hard to talk the team into stopping for a snack. We ate really quickly and headed off to the convention center to get Fire Mountain checked in. We got our badges from the registration desk, and were off to the showroom floor.
As expected all the pallets were sitting in front of the booth ready and waiting for us to start unpacking. The showroom was bustling with vendors that were already there preparing their booths getting ready for the show opening at 4pm on Thursday evening.
Alicia E. discovers some hidden treasure.
Jenny W. sets up free gifts for the attendees
We worked on the booth as much as we could until about 6pm and we had to wrap it up so we could go back and get ready to attend the Meet the Teachers event that started at 8pm. It was nice to sit down for a few minutes, and before we knew it we were on our way to meet Chris and Stuart and the rest of our group in the hotel lobby. Everyone looked refreshed, donned with impressive jewelry and we headed for the breezeway that connects the hotel to the convention center.
Tom T. displays the Grand Prize tote giveaway
Jenny W. and Michelle E. look forward to the show's opening
After a short walk, we arrived to a very busy, very large conference room with over 100 tables where all the instructors had set up to meet the participants of the show. It was great to circulate the room. Most of the teachers and many of the participants are Fire Mountain customers and it is always nice to network with and show our support for them and the industry. It was mentioned that the Meet the Teachers event is like going to a "family reunion." This is Jenny's first year to come to the show, and her immediate observation was her amazement at "how very passionate" the people are about what they do and the emotion they exhibit when talking about jewelry-making. As exhausted as we all were, we found the event to be quite energizing and uplifting.
Show participants network with all of the jewelry-making instructors
Chris greets Tatiana, Nataliya and Iurii from Ukraine’s The Fashion Magazine
At about 10pm we realized we did not have dinner, so we all left the event to find a restaurant for a late night snack. Fortunately, there is a pub in the hotel that has a late night food menu, so we ended up there and ordered some food and had a casual meeting with Chris and Stuart to recap the day and make a plan for the next day. It was about midnight when we all got back to our rooms, and I was asleep in a matter of minutes.
Thursday, June 5, 2014
Today we have to get the booth setup finished and prepare for the preview opening of the show at 4pm this afternoon. We will be manning the booth--meeting and talking to customers until about 9pm. It's a long day, but we are all excited to get started talking to our customers, and potential customers.
Stuart said we could sleep in, but mostly the term "sleep in" is relative to the situation, lol. We all agreed to meet at 9am in the hotel café for a quick breakfast before heading off to the exhibit hall. Once there we picked up where we left off the night before setting up the booth. It came together pretty easily. Thanks to the months of pre-planning by Susan and Alicia and the team everything we needed was right where it should have been, and went right into place. Our one glitch was that the TV set that we show our videos on was damaged and didn't work.
Almost ecstatic, Tim discovers endless SPAM® flavors at Walmart
So after we got the booth setup complete, we borrowed Stuart and Chris' car (they had an afternoon of meetings planned) and took a field trip out to the local "Super Walmart!" I drove, Tim was shotgun, Alicia navigated (using her phone GPS) and we were off. I'll have to say the GPS took us the long route and through some of probably the worst surface streets in Milwaukee, but we did arrive no worse for wear. We found a nice replacement TV, and stocked up on some provisions for our rooms; bottled waters, fresh fruit and the like. Tim was delighted to find all the different flavors of SPAM® that seem to only be available at the Walmart. It was a good day!
We found our way back to the hotel via the freeway this time, so we felt much more confident about our navigation skills. After about an hour we had to be back to the booth for the opening of the preview evening. This is the time for people that had attended classes at Bead and Button, as well as other vendors, to get to shop before the show is open to the public on Friday morning.
4pm quickly came and the doors to the hall opened. The people that had been anxiously waiting out in the hallway came streaming in going every direction to find their favorite vendors. We certainly had our share of customers that had searched us out. Many of them were our friends that come by every year for the new collectable lapel pins, and of course to say "HI!" Lots of existing customers came to the booth and commented on how they love shopping with us because of the great customer service reps, how well the products are packed, how they always get everything they ordered and how fast they get them. Oh, and they LOVE the "packed with love" stickers! We also get to talk to many of the people who haven't shopped with us, and take the opportunity to invite them to check out the website and sign up for our email campaigns. It's a lot of fun for us and before we knew it they were announcing that the show would be closing in 10 minutes, meaning it was almost 9pm.
Eager attendees await the start of the show
Michelle and Tom greet current and new customers
Tim welcomes all of our valued jewelry artist customers.
Then we headed to a local Italian restaurant for a quick dinner. The place was jam packed with Bead and Button people so there was a short wait for a table. The restaurant owner was seating people and jokingly asked us if we had any beads to trade for a good table. Tim instantly took off his measuring tape "Slap Bracelet" and slapped it around the man's wrist. The room started laughing and the owner was delighted and got us a great table! We ate and then were off to our rooms for a restful night.
Friday and Saturday, June 6 and 7, 2014
Alicia, Tim, Jenny and Michelle meet 2009 Silver Medal Prize winner, Jessica Tiemens.
The Fire Mountain group is preparing for another long day of greeting customers, handing out tote bags and company giveaway items, and collecting signup cards for the big raffle planned on Sunday afternoon. For those of you that don't know, every year we raffle off a container filled with beads and jewelry-making supplies to the tune of about $500.00 retail.
Friday, the show started at 10am. Bead and Button plays trumpet etudes over the PA system as they open the doors and customers come streaming in. There were some good sized lines of people waiting to come into the show, and more came in throughout the day. The crowds were pretty consistent at our booth both days. Many of the comments were like "Fire Mountain is my favorite place to shop!" or "Fire Mountain still has the best customer service in the business" and "you get the orders packed and to my door faster than anyone!" All and all our customers still seem very happy with Fire Mountain. Many people talked about how much they like our website, our sales, and the resources we provide them. I had more than a few people comment on how they LOVE and use the Gallery of Designs for inspiration. What I notice most about our customers is how outgoing and energetic they are, and they all have that great sense of humor.
Michelle welcomes Barbara, who joins us yearly at the show
Alicia and Tammy Honaman light up the show with their smiles
The days are long and we are on our feet 95% of the time, but the entire team has been great! KC and Chuck joined us on Thursday, and have been helping in the booth between their meetings and appointments. After taking a couple classes earlier in the week, Esther joined us working the booth as well. Chris and Stuart joined Alicia, Michelle, Tim, myself and the rest of the team for much of the day on Friday, working around their meetings. Friday's hours were 10am to 8pm, Saturday was 10am to 6pm. Also on Saturday the Bead Social event started at 7:30pm and went to 10pm. This is where the auction for breast cancer research takes place. We won 2 seed bead quilts to add to the collection in the hallway outside the break room. By the end of the auction we were all beat and ready to hit the sack, so we took off for the hotel. While we were at the show, there was a big wedding going on in the hotel and the music was BLARING through the halls and up the elevator shafts. We could just barely hear it in our room, but I was so tired it didn't keep me from going to sleep instantly.
Marlene, show coordinator, inspires participants at the Bead Social
Attendees pick up their auction winnings at the Bead Social
Sunday, June 8, 2014
"They say that all good things must end," and the 2014 Bead and Button show is no exception. Yesterday was the final day of the show. It definitely got off to a slow start, but that is not unusual for Sunday mornings. Many people that have attended the show leave on Sunday, and the locals that come to shop generally get a later start.
This gave us the opportunity to walk the show floor a little bit more to see what's out there. Things that I noticed was there seemed to be less vendors over all. Most of the bigger vendors were there and there seemed to be some new ones on the floor. People were buying, especially seed beads and regular glass beads and crystals. More of the booths had artists doing demos of new products or tools they've developed. Sandra Lupo has developed a new tool that creates cones using wire, Stephanie Eddy was combining Apoxie Sculpt with her Viking knit, Christi Friesen and Lisa Pavelka were doing demo's and make-and-takes with polyclays and their other products. One vendor even had a new product called the "Easy Peyote" tool that makes starting and doing peyote very simple and foolproof. It's really fascinating how inventive our customers are.
Stuart and Jill Erickson, renowned jewelry artist
Why is Tim shuffling?
Anyway, the crowd really picked up after noon, so much so that we actually ran out of the tote bags that we were giving away at about 1:30pm. So we just continued to give out the giveaways and the customers loved them.
At 3pm the announcement came over the PA system that we were ready to pick the winners for our big raffle. We put all the entry cards in a big blue plastic container and Tim mixed them all up. There was a large crowd that gathered around us, all saying, "Pick my card!!!" Lots of energy. The winning cards were picked and announced to the crowd, but unfortunately the winners were not there.
At 4pm the final announcement came that the show was closed and everyone needed to leave. Immediately everyone started to close down their booths. We all dug in and got our booth broken down and packed back on the pallets within 1 hour. We were done, and ready to go have dinner. We found an Irish pub, Mo's, that served food so we settled down to eat. After that, we called it a night and went to our rooms.
"Pick my card!" Attendees anxiously anticipate the raffle drawing
Watch crowds of excited ticket holders hear the selection and announcement of our raffle winners.
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