Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The Road to Philadelphia in Review

Coffee with an extra shot of espresso and real half and half in the large black ceramic mug, jazz on satellite radio. That's right; it's live from Joe's! Today is the last big day on the book--all the copyedits need to be blessed and sent back asap. but before I get any further, congratulations to Bina Donakowski-Jones for winning the Niche award in the fused glass category for her stunning fused glass book. I am sorry I couldn't find a better picture of this piece to link to as it is really gorgeous. I am very happy to report that politics did not win out, and, truly, the best piece won.

The drive back was uneventful, the Holiday Inn in downtown Philadelphia was uniformly horrible. I cannot find one single redeeming thing to say about it or the Benson's (Benton's?) restaurant in it. No, that's not quite true. There were one or two staff members who seemed to genuinely care about our room and service difficulties, but there was not a single person who knew what the hell was going on there or could do anything about it. By the third day of six there were Harry and David truffles, a bottle of chardonnay and two bottles of Starbuck's frappucino in our room compliments of the management--along with a very nice handwritten note expressing wishes that the rest of our stay be pleasant and uneventful. Lol. The frustrations and difficulties still did not end. There was not a day when we didn't have to deal with some annoyance--from no hot water in the shower (ever) while having scalding (literally) water in the sink, to dry, grey, overcooked steak in the restaurant, to lost packages, no internet and invisible managers. When I actually wanted to talk to the general manager before leaving she couldn't even be bothered to come out and face me. I got the restaurant manager. I pinned his ears back, but it really wasn't enough. I will review the hotel and my Priceline experience and I will *never* do Priceline in Philadelphia again and risk staying there.

A review at the end of the show gives it a solid 6 of 10. Sales were down 30% from last year, I believe mostly due to not seeing most of my customers from last year--including the ones I expected to see. Exposition services had more than their fair share of problems, but everyone I dealt with was friendly, helpful and could actually solve (most of) my problems.

Biggest issues for me were loss of electricity, booth space issues with neighbors, and load-out. A bunch of us lost electricity Friday night and it was still out Saturday morning for the first hour and a half of the show. There was no identifiable reason for it--everyone was using their allotted amount of power, but the cables were poorly laid out in the booths and not marked as to who should use what so it is possible that someone was on a 1000 watt service line instead of the 2000 watt line they paid for and it caused the transformer to overheat and blow. Whatever. Better labeling and lay-out would have prevented the problem, but Hargrove (exposition services) was quick to respond and fix it (I think it is fear of Wendy that makes them move so fast and I don't blame them).

People are asked to keep their stuff out of the aisles during set-up so that everyone can get their stuff in. Lol. You can barely walk down some aisles for days--much less get a dolly down them. Clearly the rules don't apply to everyone. All the set-up woes in our section can be laid at the door of the guy behind me who set up his immovable hard-walled booth before everyone else arrived and didn't even bother to check to make sure he was fully inside his space and not interfering with anyone else's eventual set-up. Some people just never learned to color in the lines. He put his back wall on the corner of my rented carpet so that the corner was folded and the whole rug was bunched. He moved the pipes of the pipe and drape wall system so his booth would fit right, and made everyone else's walls cock-eyed. But he has been doing the show forever and he just does what he has to do so his show goes well.

Participation in the set-up and breakdown of an art show--either wholesale or retail--should be required for the leader of every communist country in the world. They are perfect examples of why communism fails. Artists--the free souls, gentle spirits, last hippies in our society--show at the core how people do not work together for the betterment of all. And yet they are individually, one-on-one, extremely nice people!

At the end of the show a bunch of exhibitors were told they could load out using the underground loading area and the freight elevators. These were the same two freight elevators that exposition services had to use to load up all the people who paid to be loaded. I waited 20 minutes for my stuff just to get on the freight elevator to get down to my van. Was that fair? What is it with people?

We are almost all in a hurry, but some people think they are just entitled to take whatever they want, cut line, and screw everyone else. This is another sad, common characteristic of this show. Most of the people who have been doing it have been doing it so long they know how to "get around" the system, ruthlessly cutting off and delaying everyone else. Some of it was just selfish human behavior, but some of it was a defense mechanism against a bad system. What bothers me is that after 25 years of having the show there is still such a strong need for a way around the system (continuing the show through Monday? Come on! What a waste of time!!!).

I am seriously tempted to research flying and shipping. The big downsides with them are weather delays, breakage and lost freight. but I am going to have to do it for the ACRE show in Vegas in May anyway.

Now it's over for another year (the summer BMAC is smaller and easier in so many ways), and it's time to move with the day and the book.


Jodi said...

Glad you survived...sounds like an ordeal.

Bill Paley said...

I wonder why your regulars didn't show?

Brenda Griffith said...

I think a lot of people were put off by the weather. Or they just don't like my work anymore.