This weekend I attended the Creating Keepsakes Scrapbook Convention in San Marcos, Texas. I have made the short drive from Austin to San Marcos for this convention two or three other times over the years, and I would say this is the best one I’ve been to so far. The main reason I give this year’s event the highest marks yet are because many of the vendors actually brought new products with them that I haven’t yet seen at my local stores!
You might be thinking, “Jan, do you mean that I could set aside a day of my weekend, drive to San Marcos and pay my $10 to get in the door at the Embassy Suites—all just so that I can shop for new scrappy products—only to find old merchandise?” To which I would think, “Yes, that’s exactly what I mean.”
There have been years that I’ve found tables full of what looked like old inventory the vendors had dug out of the farthest corners of their warehouses. Very disappointing, not to mention inappropriate! How many scrapbook enthusiasts who would make the time and effort to pay to shop for their hobby would be interested in anything but the newest offerings? So, whether the improvement came about because of attendee feedback (which I certainly gave in past years) or because the vendors realized that they weren’t doing their sales numbers any favors, I don’t know. I’m just happy to report that I came home with more brand-new items this time. Score!
Tips for going to a scrapbook convention
I was also thinking about the things I’ve learned by going to these a few times and have put together a little list of tips for any of you who haven’t been to a local convention and are thinking of going to the next one that comes to town:
- Dress for comfort. You’re on your feet all day in an over-air conditioned hotel/convention center. Dress in layers and wear tennis shoes.
- Take your own shopping bag. You aren’t allowed to bring wheeled craft carts into the shopping area (it would make things way too crowded), but that doesn’t mean you can’t bring a bag for carrying what you’ve bought. The first year I went I just carried around the bags that my purchases came in, and that became a pain because they really started cutting into my hands after a bit. So I always take a craft bag that straps across my chest and can hold 12×12 paper without bending it. I just slide all my purchases right into that baby and keep my hands free for more important things.
- Take cash. Yes, most (maybe all) of the vendors take credit cards. However, they don’t all spring to have a telephone line turned on at their booth. This means they run your credit card the old-fashioned way: with carbon paper. I suggest avoiding those kinds of worries by using cash whenever you can. And then only pull out your credit card when it’s a larger purchase and you know they are running it through a phone line.
- Go as an informed shopper. I’m not suggesting that you spend hours finding out what’s new from all your favorite craft companies just so that you’ll know what products you might see at the convention and what they should cost. That would take way too much work. However, if there’s some specific tool that you’re looking for I would suggest you read up on it a little. Make sure that you know if there are different versions available and what the retail price is so that you know whether the “show deal” is really a deal at all.
- Don’t be afraid to go alone. I think some people miss out on going to events like this because they don’t know anyone who is interested or available to go with them. I have found that going alone is still lots of fun! I enjoy moving at my own pace and looking closely at one booth and then completely skipping the next, which is much easier to accomplish if you need only please your own tastes and interests. I also find it fun to talk to the friendlier vendors. I never feel lonely when I’m there. Don’t get me wrong here; I have gone with friends and had a great time! In fact, this year I ran into a friend of mine almost as soon as I arrived, and we spent several fun hours together perusing and purchasing. I’m just suggesting that you go whether you have a girlfriend to accompany you or not.
Overall, I think of going to this kind of scrapbook convention as being a lot like spending the day at an amusement park. If you dress for comfort, are prepared to stand in some lines, understand that the food is going to be overpriced, pace yourself and don’t mind occasionally bumping into other people in the crowd, then you should have a great time enjoying the roller coasters!