We were in New York last week. Or maybe it was two weeks ago. Or a month ago. Or we might still be in New York right now. Honestly, with the amount of things that we’ve had going on the last two months, plus the seemingly endless list of things we still need to do, not to mention the list of things we need to do once those things that need doing are done… it’s kind of hard to keep track of time these days.
What I can tell you about time, is that we woke up at two in the morning on a Saturday to leave for New York. That might sound familiar, and that’s because we did that for San Francisco, where things totally went fine and no one got hurt.
This time, we were headed to yet another trade show— New York Now. Sorry, it’s actually written out as NY NOW. And as far as I can tell, the “NOW” is totally superfluous; it doesn’t stand for anything. They couldn’t even make an attempt at something halfhearted like “Not On the World Wide Web.”
This would at least make some sort of sense, because (for those of you who aren’t familiar) NY NOW(WW) is a trade show for wholesalers and retailers, where people like Amy and I drive into NYC at 7am to “avoid” traffic and spend hours upon hours putting together our booth, and then stand around for four days while buyers walk around and look at our product, look at us, sometimes say hi, and other times say nothing at all. In years past, if they like your line, they place an order with you in the moment, in person (i.e. not on the world wide web) — but nowadays, it’s FAR more common that they say they’re not placing orders at the show, then ask if they can place an order with you later, online (as in, yes on the world wide web).
I’m not saying trade shows are dead*, but I am saying that when our new-fangled, internet-based wholesale platforms run virtual trade shows, we don’t have to spend money on hotels and gas to drive several states over to do manual labor and then stand on our feet for four days straight. We just roll out of bed and have to worry about fulfilling orders.
*But I’m also not not saying that.
Additionally, our online events spare Amy from the annoying habit that men — especially men outside of the stationery industry — have in automatically assuming that the man standing in the booth is in charge of the business. DESPITE THE STORE BEING NAMED AMY ZHANG CREATIVE. Sirs, my wife’s name is literally on the wall. I’m not Amy Zhang. I’m Joe, and I’m just here to wear a colorful shirt and smile at strangers. But that didn’t stop several men from walking in, shaking my hand, and completely ignoring Amy while trying to sell us whatever service and/or product their company offers.
And it’s not just men. One woman told me I was a “supportive husband” for managing the booth when Amy stepped out for a minute. Ma’am, I am being paid to be here. (I mean, I do think that I’m a supportive husband and if I wasn’t working for the store, I would’ve done the same thing. But still, I’m a paid contractor with a company card, thank you very much.)
The show wasn’t all bad, though. Amy got to meet a lot of our current retailers and actually chat with them in person, we wrote a decent amount of orders, and we landed one of those "they might not be a household name, but they're a big deal in the industry" accounts that Amy's been dreaming about working with for literal years. Aside from that, we spent our time in the booth as we usually do — making jokes, coming up with bad (and occasionally, good) puns, wondering what Raffy was up to, planning out social media posts (and this blog), and snacking on our dozens (yes, dozens) of macarons that we bought throughout the week.
(For those of you wondering, while Amy and I were manning our booth, Raffy was living his best, trash-filled-streets life over in Long Island City with his acquaintance, Cheddar. Sadly, while Cheddar 100% considers Raffy a friend, the feeling is 100% not reciprocated. Apparently, I’ve raised a cold-hearted dog who only has enough love for Amy and I. And also for Cheddar’s humans. And the random guy on the street. Okay, so he’s just kind of a dick to other dogs, and even more so to dogs who obviously want to be his friend. Poor Cheddar.)
[Full disclosure: While I did do plenty of standing around at the show, I actually spent all of Sunday with Raffy because our friends couldn’t watch him. Also, I was tired.]
[Fuller disclosure: I mentioned the dozens of macarons. What I neglected to mention were the croissants, danishes, ice cream, ham and beurre sandwiches, pancakes, ice cream, kimchi fried rice, biscuits (with gochujang butter!), cheesecake, ice cream, bacon-egg-and-cheeses, and 13-course omakase tasting menu that were also consumed… and whose quantities I’d rather not discuss. Surprisingly, no pizza, though.]