Okay, so ‘technically’ Friday is the second day of the pre-show, but it’s the first day we went. Rachel and I celebrated our anniversary yesterday, so we took the day off from the show and decided to make Friday our ‘Day 1’ at the pen show. The pre-show is not open to the public, you have to be a special person (or pay a special price) to get in….the main advantage being that you get first dibs on the tons and tons and tons and TONS of vintage pens at the show.

The one thing that completely sucks about being a vendor at the pre-show is that there’s no security on Thursday or Friday night, and there are no assigned tables. What that means is that anything we bring on those days we have to take home that night…..that’s a slight annoyance if you’re a pen vendor staying at the hotel….a total PAIN IN THE BUTT if you’re a heavy paper and ink dealer like us commuting to the show from 30 minutes away during DC rush hour traffic. So our setup was a little ‘temporary’, since we literally spent half the day Friday setting up and breaking down (even with our limited selection that we brought for the pre-show).

Here’s us getting started. My wife and her sister (Rebekah, the one who takes the awesome artsy photos for GouletPens.com) are here helping set up. My friend Sam will be here Saturday and Sunday to help, too:

We were only told we’d get half of our allotted table space, though when we actually went to register, the lady at the desk said to basically claim whatever space we wanted. I equated it to claiming a stake in the Wild West….whoever gets there first gets the space! We only took up 1 1/2 tables at first (our official allotment), but when it was evident that no one else was coming to sit beside us, we slowly took over 3 tables. This was good because it gave us a good idea of the working space we’d have for the weekend.

We brought Caran D’Ache ink, J. Herbin, black Habanas, large Webbies, Clairefontaine Triomphe, the most popular selection of Rhodia pads, CF notebooks, and all our Aston Leather pen cases. We had a little side table set up for paper testing, with the different CF papers (Rhodia 80g lined, CF 90g French-rule, Webbies, Habanas, and Triomphe) for people to test out with their pens of choice.

The day was pretty slow, but I used the opportunity to walk around and meet Brian Gray of Edison Pens, and other vendors I wanted to meet face-to-face, as well as meet some loyal customers and fans of Ink Nouveau. Of course, when the end of the day came, it was time to pack everything back up, and that just straight sucked (my back, my back!). Oh well! It’s all part of the job ;)

I plan to document Saturday in a more regular and ‘documentary’ fashion. Rachel is going to help me with the camera work, and we’ll show you sort of the inside scoop of what it’s like to be a vendor at a major show like this. It’s a side to the business that few rarely see, and I hope you can enjoy and appreciate all the work that goes into it! Until then, see you at the show ;)