Here are some helpful tips and hints for attending Rubber Stamp Conventions from rubberstampers who have been to conventions before. If you use some of these tips & hints, they may help you not feel so overwhelmed the first time you attend a convention.
Address Cards - Print a set of cards with your name, e-mail, url, snail address, and or phone number, etc. Be sure to include the information you would want to give to fellow convention goers. This is a much faster and easier method of trading information with someone. You might also take a zip lock bag to keep this traded information in so you can find it when you get home.
Address Labels - Bring a bunch of address labels to use at the booths when they have sign up sheets for catalogs, mailing lists, etc.
Before Show - Make a list of MUST HAVE items. It's frustrating to get home and realize that you didn't get some stuff you really wanted; no matter how NEAT the stuff you got was - (Jody Morrison)
Make a list of the embossing powders, glitters, ink pads, etc. that you HAVE. It is easy to forget and buy duplicates of what you already have at home. Another suggestion is to add a small sample of each EP, Glitter, ink pad color to this list. Sometimes the same color EP, glitter, or ink pad can be called by a different name by different vendors. Having a sample makes is easier to not duplicate - (Judy Perry - AKA Dragonhome)
Sign up in plenty of time to take stamp classes.
Bring - If you're staying over night bring a few basic stamp supplies with you since you will want to use your toys right away.
Budget - Decide on a budget and try to stay with it. Most vendors will take checks. Some people advise leaving checkbooks and credit cards home so you won't overspend and others say to bring them so you won't worry about running out.
Camera - Bring a camera so you can take photos of all the examples. Even if you don't buy that company's stamps you may get ideas from the examples. Always ask before taking photos of the examples, there may be copyright issues. Also, make sure that anyone working the booth is not looking in your direction when you take the picture so that you don't blind them with the flash from your camera.
** Carry a small tablet in a fanny pack or backpack - (Paula Jo Green)
** Wear a fannypack, with the pack up front, like a kangaroo. This way, your money, checkbook or credit card will always be handy - (JavaPoodle)
** Carry zip lock bags to store your purchases of unmounteds and embellishments.
Catalogs - When you are making purchases, ask about a catalog. Often the catalog is free or comes with a discount coupon with purchase. (*The Chewnings* )
** Get the Class/Demo list. Decide what to see and note the times - (Maggie - Aglaia Handcrafts And Rubber Stamps)
** If friends are going with you try to get a list of workshops or classes and divide them up. If each of you attend just one or two classes you can show the others what you have learned later and all of you will have more time to shop.
Clothing - Wear comfortable clothes and comfortable shoes. You'll be walking around a lot, standing going through bins, and you might end up on the floor sorting through un-mounted rubber - (JavaPoodle)
** Bring your own lunch or something to snack on, also a water bottle helps too, less time and money spent on standing in line buying food and more for the rubber!
** Put a candy bar, a package of crackers and a bottle of water in your tote. You may not want to stop to find something to eat or drink as you move around. Be sure that you are allowed to eat or drink on the convention floor. Normally this is not a problem. (*The Chewnings*)
** If going to convention with someone else, take along walkie-talkies that way you don't have to stay with one another. You can split up and scope out the good buys. - Janis Wojcik
** Go with a friend. Two sets of eyes are better than one, and it is fun to chat while you shop.
** Be prepared to go into a rubber stamp buying frenzy - (JavaPoodle)
** Have Fun - (Maggie - Aglaia Handcrafts and Rubber Stamps)
** Be polite, don't push, shove or snatch things, smile and say Please and thank you.
** Do not try to trim un-mounted rubber while you are at the convention, unless it is being sold by the pound. Do take something to trim with in case this happens. (*The Chewnings*)
Kids - Leave the little ones at home. It is worth the money to get a sitter for the day. Many shows do not allow strollers and children do get bored going from booth to booth with nothing to do - (Mary - R. R. Rhymer)
List - Take a pad and a couple of ink pens or a mechanical pencil to take notes on what you want to get later or about samples and demonstrations you have seen. You might also take a camera and get permission to take pictures of samples. (*The Chewnings*)
Locations - Stop at the front entrance and see if you can get a map of who's where. Take a few minutes to stop and see where the vendors that are the most important to you are located.
Mirror - Carry a small hand mirror in your pack, so that you can view un-mounted images without having to wrack your brain to figure out what they look like in reverse. Also makes reading work un-mounted stamps much easier - (Sue Dianne)
** I also like to put my money in a small coin purse that I carry in a front pocket. Most of my purchases though are paid with a credit card. One tip about that, If you can, prepay into the credit card what you plan to spend. That way you can take less cash and don't have to worry about credit limits - (Paula Jo Green)
** Bring only the amount of money you can afford to spend. Leave the check book and credit cards at home. This way you won't be tempted to buy more than you can really afford - (Judy Perry - AKA Dragonhome)
Parking - Write down what isle in the parking lot you are parked in. Sounds dumb, but you'd be surprised how easily you forget where you parked your car, especially when your thoughts are on the convention!! ) - (Paula Jo Green)
Pickpockets - Watch out for them. Keep your cash/credit cards in a place where it is hard to get to. If you are using a fanny pack, put the $$ in the pocket nearest your body, OR put it on backwards (the zippers towards your body) to make it harder for them to get to. DO NOT put your wallet into your purse, backpack or back pocket - this is the easiest way for the pickpockets to get to it.
** Bring a camera if you like. Make sure to ask the vendors before you take pictures of the cards, some vendors do not allow you to take pictures. - (Maggie - Aglaia Handcrafts And Rubber Stamps)
** Take a camera and a tote bag (or backpack). I like to take the camera to get pictures of other list members. Especially at their booths. Easier to remember what list member sells what stamp line - (Paula Jo Green)
** Know your prices, if more than one booth is offering the same items do some comparing. Also keep in mind the prices at your local stamp store and favorite mail-order companies, don't pay more than you have to just because it's a convention
** Some vendors maybe offering specials, don't be afraid to ask them
** Remember, compare prices, since many companies have similar images and carry similar accessories you may find something cheaper just a booth or two away
** Shop around for stuff, someone may discount ink pads, another scissors, another wood, prices for the same thing will vary from vendor to vendor - (Maggie - Aglaia Handcrafts and Rubber Stamps)
Purchase - Before you start to make your purchases, you might review the convention materials to become familiar with what vendors are present and where they are located. Make a survey of the convention floor to see where the traffic is. You may not want to go where there are big crowds waiting. You can get more done by going to the less busy vendor booths. Check out the deals before you purchase. Some vendors will offer a better buy on supplies, which you often find after paying more at another booth which you visited first. (*The Chewnings* )
Questions - If you have questions or problems for a vendor, do not confront them while they are with customers. You will have a much better relationship with the vendor if you will wait until they are free and ask for a few minutes of their time. If you have a serious problem with a vendor, don't make an issue of it on the convention floor. As the vendor to make an appointment with you for a break, lunch, dinner, or after the convention floor closes. Vendors want to be as helpful as possible and want to have a good relationship with a customer, but it is very difficult to do so while working with other customers at a busy convention. (*The Chewnings* )
Rubber Pit - If there is a rubber pit, go there first and plan on spending time sitting on the floor.
Tablet Of Paper
** I also use the tablet for keeping track of my purchases (running tally of my budget) - (Paula Jo Green)
** Bring a tablet for notes and recording what company your um's are from. Also for recording card ideas and other tips/hints that you get while walking around.
Trading - Pins or ATCs
** Bring pins to share - (JavaPoodle)
** If you are planning to trade pins at the convention, I would suggest that you make no less than 50 pins. I have found 100 to be a good number. If you have any left over, which I have never had happen, you can always send them out to friends or swap them via the mail. (*The Chewnings* )
** Don't forget to make a few pins to trade with others. Some people put their name and address on the back so they can make new friends. Pins don't have to be elaborate, just one image stamped and colored can make a nice pin. Some people use double-sided carpet tape instead of pins on the back.
** When you buy un-mounteds stamps, keep them in the bag from the vendor until you get home and are able to write down the name of the vendor on the stamp. This way you will have the vendor's name handy when you do your stamp catalog. I used to put all my un-mounted purchases into one bag, and now have quite a number of stamps that I don't know who they are from, and I wish I did - (Judy Perry - AKA Dragonhome)
** Also if you buy un-mounteds make sure to bring/buy enough mounting supplies for them and mount them ASAP.
** If you are ordering from a vendor just before a convention, you might check to see if the vendor is going to be at the convention. Sometimes you can save shipping charges on your order by picking it up at the convention. (*The Chewnings* )
** Get a list of companies that are going and use back issues of RubberStampMadness to research what kind of images each company has. Try to find out what their regular prices are like if you can.
** If there is a particular vendor you want to see, go there FIRST. Otherwise make a circuit of the palace and go back to what you are most interested in. Its easy to spend all your money and not realize that a vendor you wanted to see was just 3 aisles over and you never got there - (Jody Morrison)
** Read the program that you receive when you get there. You will find a map of the place, coupons for vendors who are there and more.
Walk Around - Go around once and look at everything before you buy, especially if you're on a tight budget or you may end up spending all your $$ at the first booth you see and miss out on some great stuff. When you first enter the selling area go to the left if possible. Human nature leads us to the right so if you go left you will be ahead of the crowd. Unless you get there late and the left side is already crowded. (GRIN). If the show goes more than one day try to go to both days. You might pick up bargains near the end of the last day. This will also give you a chance to attend more workshops and classes. Also try heading directly to the booths in the rear of the building. It will take awhile for the general crowd to reach that part, so you'll be ahead of them.
Wear - Wear good walking shoes and loose comfortable clothes. I have also found it a good idea to limit your jewelry. Rings and bangles can become lost in bins when you are looking for un-mounted images. Dangle earrings and long necklaces are also a problem. They get caught in your hair, clothing, etc. You don't want to waste time taking care of that type of problem. (*The Chewnings* )
Working Booths - Sometimes vendors will need people to work in their booths for them. If you have a relationship with a vendor, see f you can work for them. Most vendors will pay in product only and you will usually get in free.