After a wonderful night’s sleep in my own bed, I hopped in the pick-up truck (to haul back all our stuff after the show ended) and sped off to the Orange County Convention Center for the last day of a successful expo.

Although I expected a slower day, I had Kim, Lynn and Linda join me so we’d have plenty of help to “sew up” some last-minute orders and break down the booth at the end of the day.

Day 4 featured a nice Q&A session with the folks featured in the PBS documentary “The Undertaking.”  Seated under the lights on the main stage, Patrick Lynch and staff members discussed the filming and how the documentary has affected their firm and their community.  Between interviews, portions of the film played on the “jumbotron” overhead.

I didn’t get much chance to watch the presentation because we were very busy talking to customers and taking orders.  Surprised by the number of people who made their first visit to our booth on the last day, I was encouraged to hear the kind words and endorsements of people who were returning after a previous visit to pick out the cover they wanted (and it doesn’t hurt that they new visitors got to hear that kind of praise).

But the truth is that when someone says “I’ll come back later and pick one out,” I figure we’ve got about a 25% chance that they’ll actually return.  Why?  Because no one really wants to hurt your feelings, so many will say something encouraging to get out of the conversation, even though they don’t intend to return.

IMG_0132 by you.

We skipped lunch on Day 4 because I promised my staff that if we hit our goal (100 covers) during the show, we’d have a nice big celebration at a local restaurant.  And since we sold 103 by Day 3, we were all salivating in anticipation of an awesome dinner.

When I returned to the booth in the late afternoon (I snuck off to talk to a few other exhibitors and walk the floor one last time) I was shocked to hear our sales total:  42 for Day 4!

Honestly, I was expecting less, since we had already had such great numbers on Day 2 and Day 3.  And from a production point of view, I was already concerned about how we’d be able to make 103 of our covers in a short time, so adding 42 more to the pile was an added burden. 

Luckily, Kim reminded me that it’s a pretty awesome burden to have, getting so many orders and hearing a lot of great feedback and comments about our product, so I decided to stop complaining about our blessings.

The show ended at 3:00 pm, with some vendors rushing to leave and others lethargically packing up their boxes and slumping toward the door.  Others seemed like madmen, determined to be the first booth completely broken down and out the back door.

We took the reserved approach and boxed up all our stuff and piled it in the middle of the booth.  We got one car out of the Rosen Hotel garage (where we finagled $6 parking instead of $10 AND a shorter walk) and drove to Cafe TuTu Tango, a local eatery who’s menu features nothing but appetizers.

We stuffed ourselves full of awesome food (the chicken eggrolls are my favorite!) and laughed about the show.  I looked at Lynn and Linda, who make the basic version of our product and deliver it to my workshop to add pockets and binding, and wondered how they’d ever get all these orders done in the next few weeks. 

You see, for us, this business has been a labor of love that we work during the hours we’re not working our “bread on the table” jobs.  This was the first time that this company seems poised to take a much bigger step, supported by an awesome product.

At 5:00 pm, we retrieved the pick-up and drove to the loading dock at the convention center.  Within fifteen minutes, we had loaded both vehicles and dismantled the floor (with Stephen’s help – he met us there to get his floor back) and were gone.

On the way home, I got calls from two funeral homes, looking to order a cover that they had seen during the show.  I reminded them that their discount was only good during show hours, then offered them a smaller discount to say “thank you” for believing in the product and trying it out.

In the end, we sold 145 covers at the show and 7 covers afterward.  Not bad, when you consider that my WILD goal was 100 and I was fully prepared to be happy with just 70!

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