Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Going to a Bead Show -- How to Prepare

With the Bead and Button Show coming in a couple of weeks, I've been making a lot of lists and am starting to check them twice.  I thought I'd share some things with you today on how to prepare yourself for a big bead show.  I'll never forget my first one -- I just stood in the door and hyperventilated for a bit before I spent way beyond my budget.  I've since learned how to handle myself!

Here are my Top Ten Tips and Suggestions:

1) Wear comfortable shoes.

Your feet need to last, so dress for comfort.  Trust me -- people are going to be too interested in the jewelry around your neck to pay any attention to what kind of shoes you're wearing.  If that means you wear tennis shoes, by all means -- wear them.  Happy feet are very important!

2) To save time at check-out, bring a sheet of adhesive labels.  You've picked your beads, stood in line, and now you really want to move on to the next booth -- but you have to fill out information on the invoice.  How to help the vendor?  Print out address labels!  Include your name, address, tax id, email, and phone number.  I use the Avery 5160 labels, and all that info can fit with a 10-9pt font.

3)  Take something to eat, drink, and freshen breath.   

Take a bottle of water (you can't stash a cup and straw quickly in your purse!) and a few portable snacks.  As good as a banana might taste, after you get excited and load up your bag with what amounts to pretty, heavy rocks, you're going to end up with some gnarly banana pudding in your purse.  And breath mints?  Well, the mouth gets dry and yuck-o after talking excitedly with dozens of vendors!  'Nuff said.

4)  Plot your course.  Bead and Button has a floor plan and a list of exhibitors, and you'll do yourself a favor by reviewing it before you hit the show.  If there are vendors you absolutely MUST see, use a highlighter and mark their booth location and head there first.  If you see something that's one of a kind, think hard before passing it by, as it may not be there when you get back.

5) Take a notebook and pen.

If you're the type that looks at everything before you buy, it's a good idea to mark down booth numbers and what you wanted to buy there.  You can also keep track of your budget, as it's really easy to lose count of how much you're spending if you use a credit card.  Additionally, some vendors don't mark the prices on all their strands, so you can quickly write down what costs what.

(Speaking of credit cards -- call your company before you leave and let them know you're going to be buying a lot of things from a lot of vendors who are all from different states.  This will help keep your card from being flagged for fraudulent activity.  Again, found out the hard way.)

6)  Carry a bag, but watch out!  It's great to take a fabric shopping bag, but watch out when you have it full of beads slung over your shoulder.  Turn too fast and you could knock over vendor displays.  Don't pay attention, and people are whacking each other in the back, side, or head when they pass each other in the crowded aisles.  Been there.  Don't ask.

7)  Take business cards!

You'll meet lots of people, and trading email, web site, and blog info is a great way to network.  Vendors often like to see what you're making as Design Teams are becoming more and more popular.  You just never know who you'll meet!

(And how excited am I to have just received my Bead Soup book business cards from Kalmbach the other day??????)

8)  Periodically, take a break.  People start making mistakes, either buying what they don't really need or passing over booths altogether when they're tired and hungry.  Pace yourself!  Don't end up like my cat.

9)  Never ever pack tools in your carry-on -- coming OR going.

I learned this the hard way.  I bought a pair of crimpers and without a thought put them in my purse.  I was halted at airport security because they decided I could take the plane apart.  With crimpers.  So my brand new, still in the package crimpers went .... in the trash. 

Consider packing a pre-stamped Flat Rate Priority Mail box and some stickers to hold it closed.  You never know when you'll find something you HAVE to have but you don't think will pass the TSA stamp of approval.  

Also, pack an extra bag!  Don't pack your suitcase to the gills, go to the show, and then have nowhere to pack your beads (or have to pay extra for an overweight bag).  Again -- I learned this the hard way.

10) And lastly, wear something dazzling, and have fun!

I hope I'll see you there!

 Quote of the Day:  "PIE!"


Lori Anderson creates jewelry for her web site, Lori Anderson Designs, and wrote the blog An Artist's Year Off.  She is the creator of the Bead Soup Blog Party tm.   

Join me at the Facebook group Bead Soup Cafe for bead chat, swaps, challenges, and lots of eye candy!


  1. Lots of great advice! Wish I was going so I could meet you & all the other beadie folks. Have fun!

  2. So true!!! It will be great to see you there, Lori! I can hardly wait to meet you, at last!!!

  3. I'm not a bead artist but I am hyperventilating over your SHOES!!! And that beautiful bracelet. (By the way I can't get to your website right now.)

    Clif bars are a big thing around here!

  4. Amen to the addendum on #5 - I found that out at the first big show I attended....shortly before my credit card nearly melted from overuse...

    Have a GREAT time at B&B!

  5. Great tips! I hope to get to either Bead Fest Philly or Bead and Button in the next year or two!

  6. Great tips! I hope to get to either Bead Fest Philly or Bead and Button in the next year or two!

  7. Wish I could go...kind of bummed that I'm not! Have a great time, and I can't wait for you to share your weekend!

  8. Have a great time Lori! Wish I were going!

    Great advice. I make serious use of #5, often forbidding myself from buying anything the first day. Except that I have upon occasion lost out on really special items that were all gone by the time that I came back the next day. So now I try to find a balance.

    I also try to go to shows with two budgets - my preferred budget and my absolutely must-not-exceed budget. I normally end up smack dab between the two.

  9. FANTASTIC advice!! I wish I was going to be there with you all. I hope you all post photos or videos of what you buy or find. Please!
    Looking forward to your safe trip stories!

  10. Good advice, and I soooooooo wish I were going and could take advantage of that advice!

  11. oh and btw, LOVE the 'wear something nice' pieces... show stoppers :)

  12. I actually went to my first Gem and Jewelry show a few years ago; I stepped in the door (well, more like wheeled in because I went in a wheelchair), looked around, got so overwhelmed I completely shut down. LOL

    I'm DEFINITELY going to have to keep these tips in mind for the future when I'm ready and able to go to a bead show!

    I've always wanted to go to the Bead and Button show, but I've never been able to for some reason or another! And it's so CLOSE, too o.O

  13. Oh I wish I was going, it sounds so exciting. Have fun!

  14. Sounds so exciting, have fun!

  15. All great advice. Even though I luckily don't have to travel, I too, had my credit card flagged and was sitting on a cell phone on the floor of the center trying to straighten it out with someone in India. It didn't get straightened:( I like to take notes right in the show catalog where I can circle the booths and mark down what they have that I want.

  16. Great idea on the labels! Thanks for the great tip and see you at B&B!

  17. *ouuchh* I never pay attention to such details =)
    Very good input Lori *thanks*

  18. Ah- address labels, that is such a good idea! I'm going to do that for Tucson...

  19. I always use a backpack on wheels. This saves my back and avoids those accidental side-swipes. I carry my ID, credit cards and cash in my front pants-pocket for security.

    I love your suggestion for the credit card. Normally I take cash and limit my credit card purchases to one or two as a budgeting tool, but if I was going to Bead and Button, I can imagine that would not be the case!

    Love BOTH of your jewelry pieces, that necklace is looks so light and summery! The bracelet is strong and makes such an artistic statement. I LOVE those beads!

  20. Have lots of fun! Wish I could be there... I will some day!

  21. I always call my credit card company when I am going out of town. I never thought about all the Vendors being from all over. Makes perfect sense.

    During the summer months, I like to pack a hand fan, one of those old fashioned kinds that you wave, because it gets hot with all those people around you and under all those lights.

    Great list and I had to smile at all of the lessons you learned.

  22. These are great tips. You always amaze me with how organized you are. Enjoy the show!

  23. Great advice! I hope I get to use it someday.

    Your photos are great too.

  24. Great tips ! I hadn't thought about the credit cards being flagged. I have a tip that I will pass on. I am in the habit of taking old underwear or tshirts, pj's etc. and just throwing them out before returning. That is how I make room in my suitcase!

  25. Great advice Lori! I especially like the tip about printing up labels with tax ID etc.-brilliant! Packing a Priority Mail box is also a really great idea! For a bag, I carry a thin yet durable fabric bag that is completely flat; it could be rolled up into a ball if needed. This allows me to have a place for all of my purchases and it hangs along the side of me so I don't bump into other people and displays (I totally know what you are referring to about that)! I have only attended the Bead Fest shows in Philadelphia, but someday I hope to attend Bead and Button. :) Have a great time!

  26. I'm still not sure if I am going to bead and button yet! I'm so on the fence! I live about 1 1/2 hours away so do-able, but great advise!

  27. I'm still not sure if I am going to bead and button yet! I'm so on the fence! I live about 1 1/2 hours away so do-able, but great advise!

  28. one of my favourite memories of my now 9 yr old niece is her diligently writing down bead details in her notebook when she was about 6 so we could go back & compare prices!

  29. Fabulous advice, Lori! Something that I learned from traveling, when I fly to Tucson for the gem and mineral shows, I usually stay in a hotel. The hotel offers FedEx and USPS service right at the front desk! So even if you don't have a box, you can inquire at the front desk of your hotel and see how they can assist you. That's how I got a load of my tools home from Tucson this year!

  30. Great tips, thank you! And the jewelry pictured in this post is GORGEOUS!

  31. I love that last bracelet! Are those your beads?

  32. Anonymous1:21 PM

    Hi, Lori

    I really like the pendant necklace under wear something fabulous. Have a great time. Rita

  33. Great post and very useful advice, Lori!
    Have fun, fun, fun at the show and maybe we will meet somewhere on the show floor or at Meet the Teachers.


  34. How wonderful to be going to Bead and Button or any of the shows really! I love those shoes they are so pretty, the remind me of very fance Dutch clogs lol.

  35. I am not going to the bead show :( But, I certainly wish I could !
    Just in case my wish ever comes true,I will keep your advice in mind. However ,knowing my personal bead buying habits I am going to add "try to win lottery before trip " to my to do list !!!
    Have FUN ! m.e. :)

  36. Fabulous tips Lori...this applies to so many other kinds of shows or fair...flea markets, etc. Thanks for sharing!

  37. Awesome tips! Especially the credit card one!

  38. Awesome - I would sooooo love to go to that fair someday...

  39. Those shoes are cute! Also cute, Alegria shoes - and they're extra comfy!

    Those "mints" look like they're made of pepperoni.

    Good luck!

  40. Thanks for sharing such great advise!

  41. Awesome tips!
    And awesome stuff!
    Thanks a lot for sharing.

  42. Great tips. Going to a big show is a lot of fun, but your preparation tips are huge to make the experience the best it can be.


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