Friday, September 14, 2007

Novi Convention August 2007--A Review

A few years ago, many of you knew this stamp show as an Auntie Amy owned show. It was sold last year to Heirloom. When I attended my first stamp convention 3 years, I was overwhelmed! It was crammed in a substandard convention center with inadequate toilets and horrible ventilation. I also went to a scrapbook convention at this same place and said "never again". The less said about that particular venue, the better.

There were also issues with the attitude of the previous owner of the tour towards other stamp companies-some being banned from her shows (just as they were leaving for the convention and had already paid and been advertised as coming ) because she wanted exclusive rights to them using her convention only. My daughter and I decided to boycott her shows and only go to the shows where the outcasts were-this being the Stamp Scrap Art Tour/. This set of shows was started to help the outcasts at least have something to show for their summer-done on off weeks from Auntie Amy shows. We had a ball the first year we went and the tour was held in a nice hotel ballroom, was not too big that you couldn't do it in a day and survive and enjoy it-unlike the frenzy of the Auntie Amy shows.

We went back this year and were so disappointed. Unless things change, we won't do StampScrapArt next year at all. Half the vendors (which I suspect went to Heirloom once Amy sold) from last year were gone and many junk companies we never heard of and didn't buy from, were there . I always try to look at each vendor's booth and if possible buy a small item from each as I want them to make some money but this year at this tour, it was not gonna happen. I personally don't understand why SU and CTMH were there at all as they are accessible in so many places. JMHO.

So I get a flyer this year for Heirloom and it's at the new convention center owned by Rock Financial. As soon as I saw it had more than two toilets, I knew we were gonna have a better day. And they had attendants in the bathrooms! No begging for toidy paper to be passed stall to stall or unflushable commodes. I still think paying to park sucks-what a cash cow for any arena or center (have any of you been to the Palace lately? take out a loan to park for sure). I was hyped. Even got new shoes to keep my tootsies cozy.

I was concerned about the amount of time allocated us as we went on the second day of the show-we were only given 5 hours and on Saturday they had 8 if you prepaid. My daughter had been on both days to a previous year's show with a scrap friend and they thought the make and takes and demo's were easier to see with less people around. I was hoping I could participate in them and shop too. I don't do well in crowds and that is why we decided to wait (altho I kept hinting to hubby he could use the first day's pass and we could go together on Saturday to shop a bit too) Eyes rolling here on his part.

After hitting the toilets and perusing the room to see how big it was, we started up aisle one. Beeswax-whose stamps I have lusted over was first on my left and I got some incredible images. I got some brass templates at Polly's Pals but was disappointed in the lack of samples on display to eyeball, but we earmarked this place to come back to later for the make and take using Avec punches-we never got back tho. Next is one of the most incredible ladies-Margaret from Sparkle and Sprinkle -glitters and powders and nice people! I bought enough glitter to last until 2050! Just to shop the first aisle took us an hour and a half and we only gave a cursory look at a few-because the lines were long to purchase and we gave up on make and takes by the end of that time.

Some vendors were so pricey, we only could gape-at the beauty of the designs and the prices. S.A.R. had the most gorgeous displays and a mile long wait for the make and takes-we had to pass as we knew we could not afford it at all. The number one reason I wanted to go this year was Magenta had set up a booth-but I didn't buy anything and felt so disheartened about that. I am a big fan of theirs but their unmounted stamps were more than most mounted ones from other companies and my favorite images-the cat ones--like a witch cat on a broom--were no longer available and one artist had left them and started her own company. Most local stores don't carry Magenta because of the long waits from Quebec, the customs problems and the high ended prices.

We felt an urgency now that we were not going to be able to view each booth or vendor and skipped any that were local stores-they were not offering any special prices and we can visit them when we want. Any that we had a bad experience with in preview years were passed by too. And if the booth looked like a junk heap, we knew we didn't have time to paw thru their wares ( Gary Burlin is always a mess and even with some terrific deals, had to pass ). If we had purchased from them at the previous smaller show in May ( Marco's ) we also passed as it was the same specials listed on the flyer--but I so love this store, so glad they come each year. I don't even want to say how much I spent there in May (I did win 100.00 tour bucks, so that helped a lot and I was able to split with daughter!)

We ended up skipping a whole end row-which held Rubber Stamp Tapestry (one of my favorites but I didn't know they were down that way)-as time was quickly being eaten up by slow vendor response to those waiting to pay. I saw an image at Stampland Chicago that I had to have but could not find as the proprietor had to look it up in his catalog and give me a number to look for on envelopes in bins. I love ethnic portraits and this one is the only one I saw of a black man-but I nearly walked away. Picasso (yes, that is his name) spent more time chatting with passersby than waiting on us-even after finding the images, I still stood there with my stamps and cash as he chatted away! You want me bad enough to purchase, bud--- you better pay attention to my dollars!

I also was perplexed at how many vendors do not take credit cards. I know it can be expensive but at Costco (and Sam's Club for that matter) you can get a deal by the month, quarter or based on other factors for your machine and fees. They go out of their way to make it easier for vendors and small businesses to succeed, so at least 5 places I was only able to buy a few dollars worth of items-I had many more items in my hands and had to put some back as I only took $80 cash with me. I prefer using credit carts as I get points, get a statement when I can keep track of spending by category each year and it's safer than walking around with dollars falling out of my pockets.

There were several vendors from Canada which is wonderful to see. I have often visited their online sites and wanted to order but again, the customs problems and long waits made me hesitate. And now I run into a new problem. I pay with US dollars, the credit card has to convert into Canadian dollars and then charges me a 3% fee for the conversion of foreign money. So I try to pay cash for anything outside the US. And then we run into the problem of how expensive the stamps are in general. One company I loved the images of- Chapel Road. But one UM stamp image was 12.00 and very thin grey rubber. I will have to add cushioning to this. I bought two stamps here but almost passed it by. As an example of comparison, Stamp Oasis (no web site yet) had UM on EZ Mount cushion stamps as large and intricate for 5.50. I bought quite a few there and will go back. Chapel Road has probably seen the only dollars I will ever spend on them.

By closing time, we had only seen half the show. I think even had I gone the first day, I would not have seen it all. It was very disappointing to not do make and takes or see any of the demos. I live an hour and a half from the venue and with gas about 3.50 this summer, I knew I was only going one day. Now I have to think if I will go back next summer. A lot of the fun was taken out of the show by long waits, surly customers (who cant seem to not bump into others or get beyond being grabby), and messy vendor areas who's owners were inattentive.

On the other hand, I met several vendors who were terrific such as Wisconsin Stamp Supplies and Washi Accents and Gray Wolf Graphics (no website yet). I go to the shows to see what I can't see in stores locally and all three of these met that criteria. I will probably wait to see who the vendors are next year and decide then. I have never taken any classes at these shows as it would require a lot of commuting and possible an over nighter, and some of the classes are over hyped and overpriced. I have seen the products of several classes and was not impressed.

My grades are:

Vendor selection B
Building Venue A-
Time allotted D+
Congestion in the venue D
Overall C+

1 comment:

  1. WOW!....thanks for all the insightful info!....I could almost "feel" the crowd!! Although I am nowhere near your part of the country, and will probably never get to attend these shows, I did so enjoy the review!


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