Dispatch from Las Vegas 08/18/2012

When I initially made my plans to attend a trade show in Las Vegas, I began to make a list of things to do based on all of the things that attracts so many visitors each year. I thought that the hardware end of it wouldn't take up a ton of time. That was back in May. Since then, William and Kyla have been working with our primary supplier and other vendors to evaluate what special offers and opportunities would be available at the store. In June, we received a map of the show floor and our warehouse has resembled a small war room as we mapped out how I would spend my time and what our strategy would be. When I left Washington at 6am Thursday morning, I was as prepared as I could be, but I still was reviewing order forms and making tweaks to our order list even as we began our descent into McCarran Airport.

I went directly to the show floor, pausing only to deposit my luggage at the coat check. I spent the next 8 hours walking up and down the aisles, reviewing every product we had looked at in the pre-show literature and coupon books. I met with new vendors who are looking for opportunities to sell to stores like ours and I talked with other hardware store owners across the United States. After the show closed for the day, I went back up to my room and fired up my computer. I had to work on spreadsheets and review product catalogs and prepare a briefing for Katie, William and Kyla. Their input and ideas are a critical component of how we manage the products that we bring in through these shows.

I took a break for dinner and then got back to work. I didn't go to bed until 2am! Considering the 3 hour time difference, I'd been up for just about 23 hours.

Luckily, Friday morning was a little more relaxed. I still had some stuff to review, but I spent most of the morning on my computer and on the phone. I took a break at the hotel pool right before lunch, and then hit the show floor one more time. I spent the rest of the afternoon following up with vendors and suppliers, placing orders, and asking some questions. I also had to hustle to hunt down some vendors that I had missed. Around 4pm, I went to a seminar talking about how the modern consumer uses technology to make decisions about purchases and came away with some great ideas, but also a certain amount of satisfaction that Old School Hardware is really on the cutting edge with a lot of the functionality we provide through our store and our website.

I then raced back to the show floow for one last hour of show fun. I had to do some buying for winter and I learned about a new charcoal and grilling supply vendor.

In the coming weeks, I'll write a few more blog posts about some of the new products that we'll be bringing in as well as some of the opportunities we hope to give you in terms of savings that we were able to get at the store.

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