I'm in the gift show!

August 19, 2004, 8:11 PM

On Monday I met with a sales broker who focuses on specialty food items, a woman who was recommended by the leasing agent at the Seattle Gift Center. I didn't quite know what to expect, but I wasn't surprised that Cheryl, the broker, was frantic and faced multiple distractions as she was preparing for this week's Seattle Gift Show.

She seemed pretty pleased with the dragon beard candy, and she told me she would need a couple of days to talk with her sales team to see if they would agree to take on the project. In fact, I already got a reply on Tuesday afternoon, and was asked to bring the product and a display in on Wednesday morning to set up a display. I tried to throw together an 11”x17” poster without the benefit of my graphic designer's time, skill, or tools, and I prepared a flyer under the same constraints, and headed over to the showroom.

We realized that the poster didn't have enough support to stand up on the display, so I started to head off to Kinkos. Coincidentally, though not surprisingly considering how close the gift show is, the manager of the Georgetown Kinkos was in the elevator as I was headed out, and he offered to take the posters off for lamination and application of a cardboard easel. I never had to leave the gift center and the items were delivered about a half hour later.

After setting up, I tried in vain to print out a few copies of the flyer on the broker's printer, so I moved on. I got a quick sandwich at a Vietnamese spot just across from the corporate office of Starbucks, called Cyclo... it was already about 3:30 or so. I made another couple of stops, including a brief stop at Azuma Gallery, before moving on to take care of getting some color laser printing done at a shop in Capitol Hill.

I was somehow bewildered that all of this was happening so fast. A couple of months ago I was thinking it would be a good idea to attend the Seattle Gift Show so I can decide if I want to do a booth there in the future, and now I'm actually in the permanent showrooms. The broker's commission will take out most of my profit in the region, but I think they can get the volume up to a respectable level faster than I can, and I can start focusing on California and British Columbia, and hopefully some other products.

Today I spent the day at the showroom after taking care of some errands in the morning. It was kind of a surreal experience. I don't know how aggressive I should be about showing off the product or about approaching visitors to the showroom. It's not really my space, so I have to find my bearings, which is particularly awkward under such frenzied circumstances.

Earlier in the week, I stopped at Uwajimaya Seattle and learned that their inventory for the small gift boxes of dragon beard candy was getting pretty low, so I also made a delivery on Tuesday... I also met with an American Express financial planner at Chinoise in the same building... somehow my business card had been placed into a fishbowl at the Uwajimaya customer service center in the last week or so... I don't remember doing it, so maybe one of my cards someone picked up when I did an in-store demo or one that I left behind with some brochures may have been placed there by someone else. I had a nice lunch and received a short, respectful, sales pitch for AmEx Financial Services.

I'm trying to decide whether to go to Vancouver or head toward San Francisco for a few days after the gift show ends. I guess it's not the best time to make up my mind... I have a long day on Friday at the gift show, and Saturday I'll be doing sampling at Uwajimaya Seattle. I'll try to attend the temporary exhibits at the Convention Center for an hour or so on Saturday and whatever I can take on Sunday, then I'll go back to the showroom at the gift center on Monday and Tuesday.

I remember vaguely that I had a few other plans for this week... I haven't had a chance to even think about what those plans were...