Next Wave 2013 - from a vendor's POV
For the past few years, I've been evolving from a hobbyist to a vendor in this industry. It's a tough transition for a few reasons, but at my heart I continue to be a hobbyist to the core. At our club's annual one-day conference, I set up a booth as a vendor. In addition, I'm still actively involved in the planning stages, helping make sure that our club runs it successfully. Similar to what we did to plan for MACNA last fall, we have to think about the vendor hall layout, do all we can to promote the event to get as many attendees in the venue, make sure the speakers are taken care of, arrange for food, and so forth. I wrote an article years ago about planning a large event.
The night before, all the vendors show up and bring their goods inside, setting up their booths in preparation for the next day. Usually this lasts five to six hours. DFWMAS provides some volunteers to assist where needed, and around midnight everyone heads off to bed to get some rest before Next Wave begins at 8 a.m. Saturday. I'd just gotten back into town after spending the week in Vegas with my parents, and felt exhausted and under the weather. It would take an hour to drive to the hotel, and I felt it would be best if I simply got up early Saturday morning instead. Still, my mind was actively thinking about what to bring and I got very little sleep.
As a vendor, you are pretty much booth-bound for the day. If you abandon your booth, items may go missing and sales could be lost. This isn't something I enjoy, because like you I want to explore all the booths, listen to the speakers and participate in the raffle. I arrived at 7:30 a.m. Saturday and a number of people quickly helped shlep in all my products, and I had the booth arranged as the doors opened up at 8:00 a.m. That's the benefit of not selling corals. Drygoods doesn't have water quality issues nor plumbing to contend with, so setup is quicker.
Speaking with lots of people throughout the day, I was able to answer questions posed to me. The one phrase I heard multiple times that day was "I didn't know you sell Vortech pumps." Yes, I'm an Ecotech Marine retailer since last September. I'm adding new products to my online shop that I use personally, as I've come to trust those products. I've spent just about a year rebuilding the Melev's Reef website, and have repeatedly stated it is about to go live for nearly six months. Some people have already found the beta site, thanks to Google. If you'd like to take a peek, here's the temporary URL: www.melevsreef.biz When it is live, the url will end with .com like usual. There's just one last important part of the site that needs to be fixed first.
One of our local members felt the need to support our local fish stores, and wore it proudly.
This sump was built for a customer that lives two hours away, and he asked to pick it up at Next Wave. It was on display for the day to let others check out my work. This sump is 48" x 24" x 14" and will be plumbed to a reef tank and two frag tanks. It will hold all the draining water in a power outage.
I love to support my club any way I can, and was the Staff Sponsor for the event. All volunteers were given a minion shirt for the day.
Surprisingly, people were asking where they could get one. Who knew so many wanted to be minions?! Even Sanjay Joshi jokingly complained at dinner that he didn't get one, so I ran out into the rain to fetch one for our illustrious speaker.
I received this image in a text last night.
I have to give credit to Jessy for helping me brand my company over the past couple of years. It feels really good to have a real presence at shows like this one, and MACNA last fall. Since I only got a 15 minute break to eat lunch, I never did get to take any pictures at the show, nor visit the presentation room nor the raffle area. It was a very busy day, and from everything I've read everyone had a great time. If it wasn't for Frag Junky's images, as well as AquaNerd's blog, I would have missed everything.