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National Stationery Show - Part III - Logistics & Lessons

Lauren Boggs Meslar

All right, now for the nitty gritty of our 2014 National Stationery Show/Signature Mix Marketplace debut! See what we used for our booth, what our costs were, how we kept costs down and some lessons we learned.



  • A 60 SF pipe & drape booth: $1782
  • 500W Electricity: $175
  • Flame Retardant Fabric for walls (new for 2014: Had to be purchased as FR, not just sprayed): $242
  • Grommets: $40
  • Paint, one quart:  $14
  • Five 150W Halogen Lights & Clamps (we bought adapter clamps someone suggested.. and then they didn't fit - we improvised!): $150
  • Multiple surge protectors and extension cords: $42
  • 64 SF beve blue foam tile floors (this cut it close. We used every tile!): $86



  DISPLAYS:  ~$75
  • Foam Board, ten 20x30 boards
  • Velcro - lots!!
  • Butcher Paper: on hand
  • White Duct Tape: on hand
  • Almost all goodies on the boards are beve products!


  • Dressing Table, Ikea, $150
  • Outdoor Round Table, Ikea, $29
  • Cube Storage, Target, $39
  • Cushioned Ottoman: on hand from the nursery - so nice to have a comfy seat!
  • SPLURGE: cool chairs I've wanted for years: $158


beve catalog cover


  • Catalogs (8.5x11, 24 pages, full color): $700
  • Freebies, 8oz waters with a beve straw washi taped on: $35 (These were simple and easy to assemble during the show, showcased our products, were healthy and were a hit with folks - multiple Instagram posts of them!)
  • ~75 sample packs of paper straws (one of each design): Laborious, but on hand.
  • Cards, on hand
  • Pre-show e-mailer: Free!
  • Post-show e-mailer: Free!
  • Laptop: Free, on hand!
  • Quickbooks Desktop: Free, on hand! (And an invoice pad for backup, but we were fine with QB. Most folks didn't request a printed copy either. No point in paying tons for branded carbon copied versions most booths have.
  • Printer: Free, on hand! (Inkjet worked fine w/ our 500w power)
  • OFFICE SUPPLIES, Incl. tape dispensers, etc, for display: $200
  • Ink, Paper, Extra Business Card Paper $30

(My seat was squished between Lennox's carseat and the giant box.. a tight fit for a 7 hr. drive!!)


  • Gas from Virginia to NJ/NYC and back, $150
  • Lincoln Tunnel, Tolls, Parking (2x), Bus from NJ to NYC (3x): $183

ROOM & BOARD: $200

  • Staying with family friends: Free! (We sent a small care package of beve goodies once we got home)
  • Groceries, including dinners for our hosts and Grandba (5 days): ~ $200

Re-usable Material: ~$1200 worth


*This total does not include costs for items we had on hand such as product samples and business cards

Most of our research suggested that booths ran $7-10k, so we were pretty happy with keeping it lower than that. The biggest surprise cost was the catalogs. I had no idea they were going to be that expensive. There's not too much we can do to minimize their cost since the largest cost contributor is being printed in full color.. and our products need full-color! Luckily, they're something that will represent beve long after the show. Next year, we'll have lots more printed, so the cost per catalog will be lower.. and hopefully we won't run out! :) We're also happy that costs should be lower for future shows as we can reuse many of our materials.

Some lessons we learned:

  • More catalogs! We ran out on Monday afternoon!
  • More cards! We ran out of both our normal cards and our makeshift cards.
  • More "cushion" inventory. We ordered in inventory before the show, but still ended up having to put hasty orders in with our manufacturers at the show's close.
  • More time allotted before shipping show orders. Based on projected sales, we had estimated 2 weeks, but I should have revised that once we surpassed our projected sales. We were definitely on the early side of show order delivery, so giving ourselves a few more days to prep orders would allow us to ensure everything's perfect before sending orders out.
  • No ID#s on product display boards. I have the codes memorized for inputting into Quickbooks, but when a shop owner read off "W-T-N-B-H-B," "W-T-C-H-B," etc it was very hard to keep things straight (Washi Tape Navy Blue Herrringbone, by the way).
  • Have a better system for making sure all "to dos" are done during the craziness of the show and its aftermath.
  • While all of our 30 press kits were taken, we haven't heard anything in response.. so we won't stress about them as much next year and probably won't include samples like we did this year.
  • We'll probably try to eat more at the show next year. Both Chris and I ate one snack bar each day during the show.. but we didn't really have time to feel hungry, so it worked. Don't worry, we had good breakfasts and suppers!
  • I'll attempt to get out and socialize more with my fellow exhibitors. We were so unexpectedly busy that the most 'exploring' I did was taking various routes to the bathroom whenever I could run to the ladies' room.

Show Overview

What were folks most interested in? They LOVED our glitter tape, especially in gold! We had this on a dispenser in the booth and people couldn't resist its sparkly lure! We got a ton of positive reviews of our beve-original washi tape like our new ikat collection, marquee alphabet tape and fun cat eye print. Our rose silver tape stood out among the omnipresent gold too. Our antique blue floral paper straws caught numerous eyes from the Best New Product display and our inspiration board, as well as our new watercolor floral straws. We had a fair amount of interest in our beve-designed patterned balloons and our new watercolor letter seals too. My NSS veteran friend Kate of Smarty Pants Paper Co. gave me some of the best advice in preparation for the show: 1) Your booth is like staging a play, it doesn't have to be perfect, it just needs to look good for a few days (SO true!!) and 2) Try to show all of your products because folks just want to point and order, not thumb through a catalog. We made product boards for our back wall showing all of our ~200 products and it made it so easy for retailers to order. Some even ordered directly from our inspiration boards, loving the party suite ideas that we put together. Verdict: Show your products in use and in complementary sets if possible - it gives a great visual effect and it inspires orders across multiple product lines. We've also gotten a number of subsequent orders from folks who took our straw sample pack and how shown it to clients. PaperKuts Studio even stated, "I promise, that was the best thing from the whole show!" and raved about them on Instagram too! People also loved our water bottles with paper straws washi taped on them and washi tape pennants (of our "beve!" tape) and tape dispensers around the booth with washi tape.

beve NSS boothNote the tape dispensers on each table, the container of our straw sample packs on the back table and our freebie water bottles on the right table/shelves.

We had three pre-show orders through SMM365 (which I think is being discontinued), 32 show orders, about 15 post-show orders that we believe are all directly from the show and we've had a few re-orders so far too. So, obviously, we're thrilled with the results of our first National Stationery Show! I won't lie, it took a ton of work to get everything ready, the show itself was a whirlwind, getting orders out post-show was a lot more work and show follow-up was tough in the midst of all that, but it was totally worth it. So thankful to be able to say that! :)

So, to recap, we spent on our catalogs - something that will represent our company to shop owners for long after the show ends - and saved on our booth set up, shipping, room and board, and food. We also did all of our own walls, set up, take down, signage, etc. We're a small company and tried to make this big expenditure of time and money as small as possible. The show was a great experience for us as a business and it was so great to finally meet many of our existing retailers in person and to meet new shop owners face to face. We're looking at doing another show in January (if anyone has input on NYNOW vs. Atlanta Gift, we're all ears!) and I'm already thinking about our NSS booth next year - we can't wait to see you there!

If you're a first time exhibitor (or veteran!) and you have any questions about our experience, please feel free to contact me directly or comment and I'll be more than happy to help!

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  • Nguyen on

    You could make a slip in one of the flaps, put a ribbon thurogh it, tape it on the inside (and secure the slip too to prevent it ripping open)and just fold the ribbon around and tuck the end of it under the folded ribbon to keep it in place. (It is hard to explain this clearly ;) )Great website btw! I use your ideas to come up with other ideas ;)

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