Leading up to the 2008 NFDA Convention in Orlando, there was lots of work to do.  We had to book the space, rent a flooring system, design a display, create signage, manufacture inventory and so much more.

You can read about some of our preparations in these posts:

Booth Design
Going to The Convention or Going to Disney?
How People Walk Convention Floors
NFDA Wises Up and Adds Food
Our 2008 NFDA Booth is Growing!
NFDA 2008 Preparations: October 1st

In one of those posts, I talked about what we hoped to do, sales-wise:

We expect to sell at least 50 covers at this convention, although our real goal is 100! 

How did we do?  I’ll tell you in a later post,  but here’s how it all unfolded.

The week leading up to the convention was given over to making inventory to show at the convention and securing other items for the booth.

I negotiated a 200-square foot floor for just $300 (a friend’s dance floor that even included setup and tear down!) and brought my display from the last show, which I described in the post, 2008 KFDA Convention: Day 3 and Wrap-Up.  I included the cost of the display in the expenses for that show, so we had essentially no display costs for this expo.

I used the money I would have spent on an out-of-town show (airfare, rental car, etc.) to expand our booth from a 10’x10′ space to a 10’x20′ spread in a wonderful location.

To set up, I took my assistant, Kim and her husband Rex to the convention center on Saturday, October 11th.  Pulling around to the loading dock, it became obvious that this was going to be an impressively large show, much like Vegas last year.  Men and women on little carts zipped around the floor, with rolls of carpet sagging from their vehicle’s load deck, while nimble forklift drivers unloaded shipping crates from semi-truck trailers and whizzed them off to their respective booth spaces.

A gruff guy in a golf cart barked orders to us and we backed our truck next to casket delivery trucks and vans loaded down with plants and displays.

Rex assembled the floor along with Stephen, the guy who rented it to me.  While they figured out which pieces fit together, Kim and I assembled the chrome wire display racks and re-built our PVC “dressing table”, which had been sitting in pieces in the back of my workshop since the Kentucky show.

Two hours later, we had a floor, a display stand loaded with our product, a fake dressing table covered with a black drape and a shiny Ferno mortuary cot (which I borrowed from a local funeral home) decked out with one of our Ellington cot covers.

As we drove home to Eustis (just 40 miles from the convention center), I knew that there was still much to do and an opening reception where we’d find out just how savvy my choice of booth size and location was.

With nervous flutters in my stomach and unrealistic expectations (we CAN sell 100 covers, if we really believe and hustle!) I drifted off to a fitful night of broken sleep.

I’ll describe Day 1 and our first disappointment tomorrow.