Sep 172010

Okay, maybe I didn’t shave my legs, but I was still up before 7 a.m., and I even brushed my teeth! That has to count for something, doesn’t it?

Why was I up at such an ungodly hour, you may ask? Because we’re working a vendor booth at the Hershey RV Show this week – America’s “largest” RV show. I know it’s the largest, because it says so right there on their website. Uh huh, and I stand six feet tall, weigh 100 pounds, and have a full head of hair.  It must be true, because you read it right here on my blog, right?

Here is a picture I took about 10 a.m. yesterday morning of the aisle where our vendor booth is located. Everybody you see in this picture is a vendor, except for the person in the gray sweatshirt in the rear left side of the aisle.

Empty aisle 2

Here’s another picture I took of our vendor aisle, from the opposite direction, just before 11 a.m. Hey, it’s a customer, the guy in the blue jeans in the rear! Everyone else you see is a vendor.

Empty aisle 11 am

About 2 p.m. it started to rain, driving all of the people who were outside looking at RVs inside the building. We had a rush!

Empty aisle 3

And here’s the vendor aisle just before 7 p.m. The guy on the left with the white hat on is a customer, the guy on the right, fiddling with the bike is a vendor. Do you see a pattern here?  While we did have a few (very few) little busy spurts, most of the day I could have fired a shotgun down the aisle and never hit anybody.

Empty aisle 7 pm

Last year, the Hershey Show claimed to have 37,000 attendees. Unless they all show up in one really big bus today or tomorrow, I don’t think they’ll be breaking any records soon.

Vendor hours are from 9 a.m., to 8 p.m., and if you have never stood on top of an ice rink for eleven hours, trust me, it’s an experience you don’t need to seek out. Just as they did Wednesday evening. a lot of vendors gave up and left a little after 6 p.m., and the place was almost empty. The show directors came on the public address system several times, warning vendors that they were not allowed to leave before 8 p.m. Many ignored them, because they had already left.

Miss Terry wanted to stick it out until closing time, and I grudgingly agreed, until somebody from the show came through the vendor area “taking attendance.” Apparently, if you leave early, they fine you, and if you won’t pay the fine, you can’t come back next year. Now, anybody who knows me well knows that the best way to get the Nixter to do something it to tell me I can’t do it! As soon as Terry told me about the attendance taker, I was packed up and out of there in about five minutes!

It is totally asinine to expect vendors to stand around on a cold ice rink for that many hours a day if they don’t have any customers to sell to! A longtime vendor told me that the number of vendors has dropped dramatically at this show in the last few years. Why do you think that is?

They tell us that today and Saturday will be killer days, with customers pouring in the doors, but it would really have to do a dramatic turnaround before we would ever consider coming back to this show. Lost time is lost time, and you can never get it back, no matter how well you do the next day. Never say never, but I just don’t see it happening for us.

Thought For The Day – The sooner you fall behind, the more time you’ll have to catch up.

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Nick Russell

World-Famous, New York Times Best Selling Author, and All-Around Nice Guy!

  15 Responses to “Did I Shave My Legs For This?”

  1. I’m really sorry, Nick. For you guys and all the other vendors. There’s nothing worse than having to stand around all day with nothing to do. I used to have to work trade shows 4 hours per day for 3 days, and THAT was hard on a slow day. I think sticking it out till 6:00 is admirable, considering… I wonder why attendance is so bad this year. Hope tomorrow will be better. : )

  2. Watch out for that attendance taker Nick, as I understand it, if he comes around 2 nights in a row and you are MIA, you get a second fine. If you don’t pay the second fine and the first fine, then the penalty is they forcibly make you return to the show again next year….

  3. Nick,

    Comment #1. I’ve worked trade shows and nothing is worse than standing on your feet all day long — except when you are busy.

    Comment #2. Apparently the Hershey Show is owned and managed by former RV sales people because they are masters at deceiving customers. Note: I did not say lying, they just present information that might not be very accurate.

  4. Chin up, Nick! It’s the weekend and there will be more lookers, er, customers. When we used to vsit these shows, we worked, so the weekend was the only time we had to see everything. Not everyone is retired and can just spend a Thursday or Friday at a RV show…poor things!

  5. Hmmm, when I worked, years ago, my weekday daytime hours were spent making the money to buy toys. At the end of the day I was either too beat to venture to a place I’d have to walk a few thousand feet or the lawn mower was grinning at me and waiting for a walk.

    Now the weekend was a different story ……… That was when I looked, bought, and played.

    Hope the weekend gets a lot better for you and all the vendors. I too used to do the show routine and let me assure you, it got old when things were slow.

  6. That’s a bloomin’ shame, Nick. Can you bring in folding chairs so you can at least sit down? Maybe all you vendors can play a game of “MOVE DOWN.” What you do is — each hour you all move left one booth. That way you get to see everything everyone else is offering, and if there are no customers, you don’t have to worry about having to sell someting. If there IS a customer, you shout out the real vendor’s product, and the real vendor comes a running and makes the sale. Sound lilke fun?

  7. Yeah, we went to “America’s Largest RV Show” a couple of years ago. We pretty much thought someone has a good sense of humor. However, I will say there were more people there back then than what you are experiencing now.

  8. maybe you could consider coming in January 2011 to the Tampa Supershow at the Florida Fairgrounds. At least one thing, it usually is a lot warmer and you don’t stand on ice. The show runs Jan. 12-16, 2011..

  9. Last year Tampa had lots more vendors than did Hershey.

  10. Lets see, the “largest” show in America, a Good Sam Rally in Perry GA, and the Escapade going on in Goshen, all at the same time. And I’m sure there are several other “rallies” going on in other places. Maybe timing is bad?
    Just pay the fines like a good trooper would. LOL…

  11. Love the game that Jerry & Suzy suggested. That could be a ton of fun for a rather boring day.

    Sorry about the slowness of the show (is slowness even a word?). Hope it picks up today and tomorrow.

    Have a great day and hope your feet do stay warm.

  12. Went to Hershey show right after the last Life on Wheels. More people then during the week but it still seemed sparseously populated.Will not go again. We are used to the big January show in Tampa which has always been packed. Not many seminars but plenty of venders with packed booths and aisles full of people. Maybe because of the season? Maybe because of the camping on the grounds so people can come and go as they feel the need to rest?

  13. The problem is that you are not in the traffic pattern. The vendor booths should be under tents right out by the RV displays. People are tired after tramping in and out of the RVs and don’t want to walk over to the Giant Center and down to the floor level.

    By the way, did you see that Heartland just sold out to Thor. Yuk!

  14. Hang in there Nick…..come down to the Tampa RV Supershow in January and we will buy you dinner one night. We winter in Florida, and never miss the Tampa show. Always packed…..

  15. Hey Nick,

    We did the show the last time it was in Harrisburg, 9 years ago.
    There were few buyers for any of the vendors. We blamed it on 9-11.
    Guess that was not the only reason for poor sales, mostly wannabees. At least our feet didn’t freeze. The air wasn’t all that fresh though.

    Aren’t Rally’s and Gatherings a lot nicer when you can call the customers by name (name tags) and B-Backs are a possibility?!!! There are BIG difference between Show and Rallies….
    The week end will be better. Workers will have some free time.
    Have a great show—-do I dare say—-break a leg?
    Chet and Gayle

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