Day one started later than expected (there’s always a bit more that “just has to be done” in such a few short hours) and ended with fewer sales than needed.

I began the day finishing up last-minute covers to add to our in-stock inventory.  Then I turned my attention to my own appearance, hemming slacks for two new suits I bought last week and packing the suitcase.

Even though I’d much rather be prepared far in advance, I don’t pack a bag days before a show because luggage makes my sweet dog, Thor, depressed.  He hates our luggage and hides under the bed when we pull it out, because he knows that one or both of us is leaving him for a while.  How do I know he’s depressed?  Because he won’t come out from under the bed, even for his favorite treat:  sliced cheese!

Loading myself, the luggage, extra inventory, Kim’s luggage and Kim herself into my car, I headed off for the first day of the expo.

First annoyance:  hearing that our $6 parking was actually $10, since we were attending the NFDA show and not the Southern Women’s Expo.  Seems different conventions make money off parking by charging more than the standard $6.  Of course, if the parking guy told me wrong, I hope someone from NFDA will correct me.

Second annoyance:  the space between us and the back wall of the show held no booths, so it was turned into a lounge area, with couches, chairs and tiny, gaming thingies.  Not sure what that means?  They looked like this:

I saw two kids playing with them; no one else dared get that close to the ground because the chances they’d be able to get back on their feet were pretty low.

Why an annoyance?  Because I was worried that the “end of the line” feeling given by a lack of booths beyond us would encourage people not to walk by our booth.

This is where the readers who visited us at the booth begin voicing disagreement and, in retrospect, ya’ll are right.  Our location was, as it turns out, awesome!  We were on an island, with a gorgeous wood floor that was so different than the blue carpet all around that we shined like a… well, just insert your own “shiny” analogy here.  The lights above our booth (luck of the draw, as it’s built into the convention center) lit up our 200 square feet like center stage.

And no one ignored us.  We were on the main drag, as far as the back of the show was concerned.  And folks who skirted the main seating area and were attracted by our neighbors at Eternal Space were no match for our powers of persuasion.

We made a lot of great contacts that first night, but only sold 8 covers.  If we sold 8 covers a day, we’d end up with less than 40 sales over the 4 day show.

On a positive note, I got to meet quite a few of our readers and I wandered part of the convention floor to check out some great new products, some of which we’ll feature in the coming days.

And I truly enjoyed the time spent with my staff, some of whom had never been to a show this big or a convention at all.

Kim is the newest and greenest on our staff.  She doesn’t sew (yet) but helps me stay organized and is just now taking over the billing, supply ordering and phones.  If you call for an order in the next few weeks, you’ll get her.

She had never been to a funeral convention or expo so this was an eye-opener from her.  Look for a “review” from her in the coming weeks.

Linda attended the Kentucky convention with me, so she knew what a larger expo is like, but the NFDA is still pretty impressive.

Lynn, my dad, accompanied me to two consecutive IFDF conventions in Orlando and Daytona, so he’s pretty good at giving our speil.  Of course, those shows each had less than 200 attendees, so the 2000+ people milling around for the NFDA amplified the experience.

As we left the convention center that night, our feet hurt (standing on a dance floor for three hours is not fun) but our spirits were high.  To treat my hard workers, I picked up an ice cream cake for dessert and some soda for the following days (20 ounces of soda or water was $3 on the floor of the show!).

We stayed at a decent condominium resort, where our room featured a full kitchen, dining room and living area, along with two full bedrooms and bathrooms.

In retrospect, the first day was just the right speed, as it gave us the opportunity to perfect our pitch and let me teach the group how to write up orders so we’d be able to fulfill them accurately in the coming weeks.  That turned out to be a good thing, since, over the next three days, our order count would explode!

Want to know more about the convention?  Here’s our schedule of convention stories:

Monday, 10/20:  2008 NFDA Convention:  Day 2
Monday, 10/20:  2008 NFDA Convention:  Sportsman Urns
Tuesday, 10/21:  2008 NFDA Convention:  Day 3
Wednesday, 10/22:  2008 NFDA Convention:  Day 4
Wednesday, 10/22:  2008 NFDA Convention:  Final Reflection
Thursday, 10/23:  2008 NFDA Convention:  National Urns
Friday, 10/24:  2008 NFDA Convention:  Final Embrace Dinner
Friday, 10/24:  2008 NFDA Convention:  RK Productions (Stone Urns)
Monday, 10/27:  2008 NFDA Convention:  What NFDA Did Right
Tuesday, 10/28:  2008 NFDA Convention:  What NFDA Should Fix
Wednesday, 10/29:  2008 NFDA Convention:  DNA 11
Thursday, 10/30:  2008 NFDA Convention:  Eternal Space
Friday, 10/31:  2008 NFDA Convention:  What We Learned