Trade Show TalesBlog

Archive for February, 2013

10 Totally Free Things to Do at EXHIBITOR2013

February 26th, 2013 COMMENTS

Classic Exhibits Distributors:  You didn’t stay in business this long by lighting cigars with $100 bills. Heck no! You want a deal.

EXHIBITOR2013 is just around the corner. And, if you’re like me, you’re wondering, “What can I do at the show that won’t cost me any money.” Kevin will tell you that’s how I think 365 days of the year. Not true. Sometimes I wonder how I can pay even less, thereby making a little money. 😉

Click to download the PDF 10 Totally Free Things to Do at EXHIBITOR2013.” Print it my friend. This is information you’ll want at your fingertips while you’re in Sin City. Don’t forget to take the complimentary shampoo and conditioner home with you. If you hide them in your suitcase each day, you’ll collect enough to save you at least 50 cents. It all adds up. It all adds up.

–Mel White


Based in Portland, Oregon, Classic Exhibits Inc. designs and manufacturers portable, modular, and custom-hybrid exhibit solutions and engineered aluminum extrusions (ClassicMODUL). Classic Exhibits products are represented by an extensive distributor network in North America and in select International markets. For more information, contact us at 866-652-2100.


Mixed Messages about Distribution: Word on the Street — Feb. 18th thru Feb. 22nd

February 24th, 2013 4 COMMENTS
Another Beauty by Seth Godin

Word on the Street by Kevin Carty

Direct Sales or Distributors

I promise I’m not being snarky, but I am confused by some of  “pre-show” marketing from our competitors heading into EXHIBITOR2013.

There are two common paths to exhibit sales from a manufacturer’s perspective:  direct to the end-user or through a professional network of independent distributors. We saw a third path where several manufacturers “invested” in distributors beginning about six years ago but that seems to have failed. Which shouldn’t surprise anyone.

Historically, our segment of the industry has (with a few exceptions) relied on independent distributors. Now that didn’t preclude some manufacturers from carving exclusive territories for company stores or absorbing “failing” distributors under the guise a white knight rescue, then never relinquishing the territory. By and large, however, the model has been through distribution. Period.

That said, I am a firm believer in “to each his own,” but the press releases leading up to EXHIBITOR2013 have been nothing short of confusing.

Some of the most visible companies in our segment have placed ads, published press releases, and sent direct mail to attract perspective distributors to their booths at EXHIBITOR. Nothing strange. We all do that. But this year, it’s gotten bizarre. In these marketing pieces, they also highlight their “direct sales” channel or websites. Really?! Not to be rude . . . but that takes some MASSIVELY BIG BALLS. I’m talking the size (of the former planet) Pluto balls.

Did any of you ever watch Eddie Murphy’s stand-up routine back in the late 80’s and early 90’s. It’s inappropriate to share verbatim his act, but let me paraphrase for the sake of this blog post. He used to do a bit related to how confusing women can be for men during the courting process. Often saying, “come here, come here, come here” and when we do, they say “now get away, get away, get away.”

Totally Confused

So, explain this concept to me if you are a distributor or are being courted by a manufacturer to distribute their products. They go to great lengths to entice you to their space and explain their products. But once you get there, you notice them selling to the same end-user base that you, as their potential distributor, represent.

To me it’s simple. Sell direct or sell through distribution. I am not saying that I’m opposed to change when necessary. After all, Classic Exhibits owns Exhibits Northwest, a distributor in the Pacific Northwest. However, we are always transparent about our ownership of ENW, and there are multiple Classic Distributors in both the Seattle and Portland markets that compete with ENW (and have for many years).

It’s a dangerous game when you choose to compete with your national distributor network. Yet, we see it happening more and more. I can count on one hand, with multiple fingers missing, those manufacturers that have remained true to this principle.

Now imagine branding your business as a distributor of these manufacturers, essentially helping them build a national presence as part of your “partnership” with the manufacturer. After years of them saying “Come here we want you,” they now seem to be saying, “We want you when it’s convenient. And thanks for building our brand in your market over the past 10 years. We really appreciate it! It helps our direct sales since your customers know us, and now they are able to buy from the manufacturer. SUCKER!”

I don’t know about you, but this seems counter-productive to building relationships and partnerships, either that or there was some pretty good snake oil sold over the years.

Allow me to wade a little deeper into the quicksand. I don’t entirely blame those manufacturers. Why? Several are sneaky about it, with a pickpocketing act that would make Apollo Robbins proud (see video #1 and video #2), but many don’t hide it. Some even publish two versions of their catalogs, one they mail to end-users with retail prices, and one they mail to distributors with wholesale prices. Same with websites. When distributors purchase from them, supplying them with the client’s company name and contact information, the manufacturer then markets directly to the end-user, making even more money and building a database on the cheap.

In closing, I meant what I said. This is not intended to be snarky. Just black and white and confusing to me.

If you would like to schedule time with us at EXHIBITOR to discuss this or any other topic, please use this link to request a time:

Hope you had a restful weekend.

Kevin Carty


Portable/Modular/Hybrid Summit at EXHIBITOR2013

February 21st, 2013 COMMENTS

The EDPA Portable/Modular/Hybrid Summit will be held during EXHIBITOR2013 on Tuesday, March 19 at 3:45 pm in the Food Service Area (far right of exhibit hall) of Mandalay Bay North Convention Center. There is no charge. This event is open to all industry manufacturers, distributors, suppliers, educators, and consultants.

Kevin Carty from Classic Exhibits Inc. will moderate. A panel discussion will follow with experts from exhibit design, graphics, distribution, and manufacturing, including David Brown of Optima Graphics, Greg Beach of Atlantic Exhibits, Chris Griffin of Trade Show Supply, Katina Rigall of Classic Exhibits, and Anita Mitzel of GraphiColor Exhibits.

The Portable/Modular/Hybrid Summit is FREE to EDPA members and non-members. To reserve a seat, please contact Melissa Nemitz: or (203) 899-8491.

We look forward to your participation in the summit.

Download the PDF flyer.



EXHIBITOR2013 — Show Me the Best Shows, Baby! (from a Las Vegas local)

February 18th, 2013 7 COMMENTS

Lesson #143:  Show Me the Best Shows, Baby

The countdown to EXHIBITOR2013 is on — T-minus 26 days and counting. That means you have less than a month to get tickets to see your favorite shows and/or performers in Las Vegas. As a Las Vegas local, I want to share with you some of my favorites on and off the Strip.

  1. EXHIBITOR2013 — Other Places to Eat (from a Las Vegas local)
  2. EXHIBITOR2013 — What Else to Do in Vegas (from a Las Vegas local)

Absinthe (

Absinthe appears twice nightly, Wednesday – Sunday in the Roman Plaza at Caesars Palace. It is an acro-variety show that is performed in the round. It has received great local and national acclaim. The show includes familiar ingredients for Las Vegas – raunch comedy, circus acrobatics, and a sprinkle of burlesque –- all uniquely combined into something new and beyond the usual. The New York Times sums up the entire ‘Absinthe’ experience as, “Imagine Cirque du Soleil as channeled through ‘Rocky Horror Picture Show.” My advice — you’ve got to ask yourself one question: “Do I want to see this with _____________. Well, do ya, punk?”


Just down the road a piece (sorry the Westerner in me is coming out) is LOVE at the Mirage. It’s the must see Cirque du Soleil show in Las Vegas. You can’t help but feel good after spending 1½ hours in the company of the Beatles music. Last September, they celebrated their 3,000 show and you’d never know it!  The show is performed in the round, so no two performances are alike. Even if you’ve already seen this SPECTACULAR, see it AGAIN! LOVE also appears twice nightly on Thursday-Monday. And just because I think you’re GROOVY, I searched and found this special link ( so you could go and get tickets at a special price too!

Jersey Boys (

Not only has Las Vegas been home to the best Cirque du Soleil shows, it has also become a home away from home for many Broadway musicals. One such show is Jersey Boys. Jersey Boys is a musical biography of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons. Of course, the link to Las Vegas and the mob cannot be overlooked. Jersey Boys began its run in Las Vegas in 2008 and has been going strong ever since.  Jersey Boys plays at the Paris and is dark is Monday with two shows performed on Saturday and Tuesday.

Terry Fator (

Join Terry Fator and the rest of the Fator gang for an evening of world class entertainment. With his unique combination of celebrity impressions and ventriloquism, the show is just plain fun. Terry has been in the Best of Las Vegas consistently since his arrival in 2007. TripAdvisor ranks him #11 of 478. If a good laugh is what you need, then Terry Fator has the remedy. Shows are nightly Monday – Friday. By visiting the link above you can check for seats that are 25% off in addition to 15% off dinner/show packages.

Discount Tickets

If you’re willing to take a gamble (when in Rome) or can be a little flexible, there are many discount ticket companies for Las Vegas shows. I’ve either had personal experience or friends that have recommended these discounters. For discounts on most Las Vegas show tickets, checkout the following sights:

It never hurts to check out for Las Vegas deals. If you already use it online or if you have the App for your smartphone, it’s as easy as changing your location.

 Near and Dear

Not That David Copperfield. The Other One.

Lastly, we can’t forget the shows that are close to Luxor, Tropicana, and MGM Grand:

If none of the above acts meet your fancy, you can always stop by the Classic Exhibits booth (#1637). We’ll have appearances by our own Tony Bennett, JLa, and the crowd favorite, MELVIS!!!

Please share your favorites, along with your super secret way of getting the best seats in the house.

If you haven’t registered, what are you waiting for, a personal invitation? Well luckily we’ve got one for you. Click HERE for FREE Access to the show hall courtesy of Classic Exhibits. Enter Promo Code 4044 for the FREE Pass (waiving the credit card fee).

Jen LaBruzza, Western Regional Manager
Classic Exhibits/ClassicMODUL


Based in Portland, Oregon, Classic Exhibits Inc. designs and manufacturers portable, modular, and custom-hybrid exhibit solutions and engineered aluminum extrusions (ClassicMODUL). Classic Exhibits products are represented by an extensive distributor network in North America and in select International markets. For more information, contact us at 866-652-2100.


Another Seth Godin Beauty: Word on the Street — Feb. 11th thru Feb. 15th

February 17th, 2013 7 COMMENTS
Another Beauty by Seth Godin

Word on the Street by Kevin Carty

I have referenced Seth Godin before, but bear with me one more time because last week one of his posts struck me as relevant to our community.

Let me explain my relationship with Seth. When I wake up at 5 am every morning, the first thing I do is read two emails. One is inspirational from a good friend in our industry– Proverb of the Day. The other is Seth Godin’s daily blog posting. And without fail, both are great starters for me, professionally and personally.

This was Seth’s blog post on Thursday, Valentine’s Day.

Open, Generous, and Connected

Isn’t that what we seek from a co-worker, boss, friend or even a fellow conference attendee?

Open to new ideas, leaning forward, exploring the edges, impatient with the status quo … In a hurry to make something worth making.

Generous when given the opportunity (or restless to find the opportunity when not). Focused on giving people dignity, respect, and the chance to speak up. Aware that the single most effective way to move forward is to help others move forward as well.

and connected. Part of the community, not apart from it. Hooked into the realities and dreams of the tribe. Able and interested in not only cheering people on, but shining a light on how they can accomplish their goals.

Paradoxically, the fancier the conference, the more fabled the people around the table, the less likely you are to find these attributes. These attributes, it turns out, have nothing to do with fame or resources. In fact, fear is the damper on all three. Fear of failure, intimacy, and vulnerability. Fear closes us up, causes us to self-focus and to disconnect.

When we find our own foundation and are supported in our work by those around us, we can get back to first principles, to realizing our own dreams and making our own art by supporting others first and always.

When I read this, I felt an instant appreciation for so many people and organizations in my life.

I am fortunate that I get to work with a team at Classic Exhibits that truly is Open, Generous and Connected. Egos are checked at the door and as a group, we try to move forward while raising each other up and listening to each other’s ideas and real intent. Mel in particular. I am very fortunate to get to co-manage our organization with him. Lord knows I am not the easiest guy to to work with each day. 🙂

These same characteristics can come in your personal life, whether from a friend who is willing to listen to your latest business idea and willing to give you honest feedback from a real outsider’s perspective. Or it can come from your spouse who says, “The kids on your basketball team are really improving every week. Your hard work with them is showing on the court.”

Professionally, it makes me appreciate my fellow EDPA Board members. They are constantly challenging me to be better in business — sharing ideas, listening to my hair-brained ones, and always willing to give me encouragement.

Anyway, like I said, every morning I read these two emails and get something from each of them. If you are not following Seth, I would recommend that you do. It may not always apply, but most of the time it does.

Lastly, on a totally different subject, I want to give a special shout-out to a good friend. Chuck, congrats on five years of being cancer free my friend. That news was the highlight of my week.  Livestrong Brother!

Hope you had a restful weekend.

Kevin Carty