After each day at the show, all of us still in Boston would anxiously await out Assistant Artistic Director, Damon Butler’s reports back. We all enjoyed his take on the action, and want to share it here.
Wednesday 3/17 Day 1: Moving in.
After a short days drive to NYC, Rich, AFH's Marketing Director and I made it to the West Side Highway in one piece, parked the van in a precarious spot that the Union worker said it was ok to park and began to unload.
"This is booth M111?"
After organizing our thoughts and surveying the lay of our booth, we moved all things to one side to prepare the other side for wall graphic installation. Starting from the top, we unraveled the roll to reveal a beautiful kaleidoscope of a plant of some sort that covered the 5'x10' short wall of our booth, but because the wallpaper didn’t cover the wall in one shot, a second shorter piece was necessary to cover the remainder part of the wall. That second piece required a bit of lining up and patience. An hour later, the same unraveling reveal was copied for the opposite 5'x10' wall. This wall received the cranberry-colored flowers.
"Whew! That was tedious."
"Now the center!"
The center wall completes the 10'x10'x5' dimensions of our cute booth. We saved the best for last. 10'x10' worth of wall and 3 panels of graphic wallpaper to apply. Aligning this is big beast required long-forgotten patience. After laughing at ourselves a few times, the back wall was complete and it made the booth sing!
"Everyone's booth around us is super plain."
"We stick out like a fun thumb!"
Next we installed the fixtures for the furniture to rest upon. Simple, easy, straightforward... wait, where are the lights? Then, like an odd street-slanged, small statured man approached us and asked if we needed anything.
Then our angel fled somewhere and returned with lights. He liked us a lot and gave us an extra light free of charge. The lights from above shone down upon the ReVision tables and made them look gorgeous.
Thursday 3/18 Day 2: Bring on the crowds!
10:00am Everyone was accounted for and ready to boogie. With numerous interesting items being sold all around us – such as Swarovski crystal encrusted MTA signage, classic wooden furniture, delicately sculpted vases, super-artsy mold-made papers, etc. – we managed to stand out like a fluorescent pink dress at a funeral. Within the first hour, people were clamoring to see the odd, shaped-resin, magazine embedded tables that are too damn cool to be missed. $1500 later and 5 tables sold in that hour, we were on cloud nine due to our accomplishments over our neighbors. We noticed sharp glances from our neighbors as people glossed over them and focused on us.
It's a lot of work.
"Good Morning! Good Afternoon!"
"Hi, how are you?"
"Brilliant! Let me tell you about our furniture..."
Friday 3/19: Inquire Me!
"It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood...” Trotting from 59th and Broadway to 54th and 12th Ave. has proven to be a good head clearer in the mornings. Today was a strange day because, unlike Thursday where people were eager to purchase, passers-by were eager to inquire. The droves of people that walked past our booth would stop (or be stopped) be informed of our organization, given a handout, then off they would go as they continue their booth hopping. It was as if we were a stop on the Architectural Digest Train line. "Next stop, Artists For Humanity and ReVision Furniture..."
Here is the kicker for this whole trip that will make people say, "WOW!" Susan, AFH’s Director, and Nick, Sculpture Mentor, were walking around checking out other areas in the building. When they returned, Susan said that I should go upstairs for a break and get a massage from a lanky black dude. Curious, I climbed a steep scaffold staircase to the second level. Up there existed all manner of Green Themed booths ranging from diesel and electric cars to solar-powered LED flashlights (that are blindingly bright), clothes to eco-friendly dry cleaning. Walking through the booth jungle, I happened upon the massage folks and seen the slender black dude. The rubdown was amazing! Something about it must have cleared my sinuses because while walking away I had an eye-opening, holy cow! moment. This is the place AFH did our very first trade show and where we met Rich Frank for the first time. This is where we did the Kids Biz expo some 15 or 16 years ago! Talk about coming full circle.
We didn't sell anything, but we learned we would be selling more if we had bar height stools. Also, we are developing a big fan base. Many people are interested in a World Wide Artists For Humanity. They believe what we have always known, everyone needs an AFH.
Saturday 3/20: Call us a match because we are on fire!
Last night we all went to a nice restaurant where we enjoyed each others' company, laughed, talked loudly, had libations and reminisced. It was very pleasant. 10:00am proved to be the usual start to the day. We all strolled confidently to the AFH booth, greeted each other, and then began the interactions with the crowd. Listening to each member of the AFH team at the booth, one thing is blatantly evident, we have the spiel down to muscle memory in our jaws. We each have a unique, but similar way of drawing in passers-by who glance at the booth and tables, slow their walk from a fast trot to a curious, inquisitive pace, then get dragged in like a fish caught on a lure.
"Ooooooh! These are fantastic! What is this acrylic?"
"It's magazines encased in a No V.O.C. resin"
"Yep, teens designed and produced them."
That's the point when a 10 second encounter turns into and educational experience. We were approached by many people who are looking to do collaborations with us, curious how to incorporate their own stuff, and even a eccentric lady who spoke of the anthropomorphic qualities of a well designed bar stool (no kidding). As we were in the process of reeling in a fish, we did manage to make a sale today on a smaller stool. Nothing wrong with that.
My favorite interaction today was a flashy fellow with a bright orange jacket and a switch to his step. As he looked in our direction, some of the most quotable statements exited his mouth,
"ooooooooo man! I'm not a fan, I'm an air conditioner!" (translation: I absolutely love the stuff in the booth)
"This is nasty, this is outright disgusting." (Translation: I absolutely love the stuff in the booth)
I chortled with such delight that tears streamed down my face. His phrases were brilliant and he was fabulous dahlin'!
By the end of the end, we managed to connect with people from Disney, a found object artist who creates brilliant, good looking stuff, gallery owners, several architects looking for Kaleidoscope images to put in clients' homes, and some other useful characters whose inquiries helped keep us moving.
Sunday 3/21: Final Day! Everything Must Go!
Picking up the UHaul van took a lot longer than what I anticipated on this gorgeous day in March. Nonetheless, I make it to our booth and, as usual, the mini crowd gathered around to hear the brilliant story about the little organization that does. It looked like fisherman had thrown chum into the sea and the result was a 1000 fish coming to feed. It was wonderful to see all the interest and support people are willing to give to us.
With beautiful weather aiding and encouraging the attendees to the show, architects, interior designers of all calibers, store owners, individuals, artists, and a medley of other-types all eagerly awaited information about those brilliant tables and AFH. We had so many people coming by the booth that we ran out of the handouts we had printed from Kinkos (it started out being 250 copies, but because of a blessed screw-up on their behalf we ended up with closer to 400+ copies for the price of 250). A couple from NYC fell in love with the spectrum table designed by AFH youth superstar-sculptor Kershner Williams and wanted to purchase it. The husband and wife really enjoyed the table and it's allure. The husband took Rich off to the side to try and broker a deal. Rich conferenced with us and we concluded that the offer of $1300 for a table we were selling for $1800 isn't worth letting go. Good decision. Someone else will come along and appreciate its value. A moment later, happy woman in her mid-50s came along and purchased a table after glancing at it for a few moments. The glee on her face for her purchase was priceless.
At the end of the day and busy show schedule, we walked away less five tables, increased our fan base by hundreds, increased our potential clients by hundred more, gained invaluable experience and had loads of fun in the process.
This was the perfect venue for this particular product from AFH.