Trade Show TalesBlog

What’s the Expiration Date of Your Trade Show Display? 20 Clues.

December 10th, 2013 16 COMMENTS
Expired Trade Show Display


Trade show displays, like yogurt and milk, have expiration dates. While it may not be printed on the box, it’s not hard to spot one that’s starting to spoil. Here are 20 Clues that it’s time to buy a new exhibit.

You Know It’s Starting to Smell When . . .

1. Graphics are attached with Velcro to a fabric backwall. While that may be OK for a FFA display at the county fair, it’s no longer acceptable at a professional trade show.

2. I&D won’t touch your property without hazardous duty pay. When show labor has to don hazmat suits before starting an install, that’s not a good sign.

3. Duct tape is an important design element. And you’re excited it now comes in designer colors — Baja Blue and Desert Sunset Yellow.

4. When your booth was purchased, a quarter could transform your hotel bed into Vibrating Magic Fingers. Ahhhhhh!

5. Attendees compliment the “vintage” theme of your booth and graphics. “Very retro!”

6. You decide to re-print your graphics and hand the graphic designer a floppy disk.

7. There are more “just in case” parts than actual display parts.

8. The shipping labels have added 50 pounds to the weight.

9. You lust over the two $99 banner stands in the adjacent booth.

10. The No Questions Asked Lifetime Warranty has expired.

11. It smells like the Pennsylvania Convention Center. Even Fabreze can’t kill that odor.

12. You found your distributor by flipping through the Yellow Pages of the phone book.

13. Your storage costs have exceeded your purchase price by a factor of 10.

14. Your graphics have a “Happy Days” theme, and the Fonz is still your unofficial spokesperson. “Ayyyyyyy!”

15. Someone tagged your crate with the Rolling Stones tongue graphic (and you think that’s cool).

16. It folds and weighs more than an AMC Gremlin.

17. Children flee in terror as if they’ve just seen a circus clown. 

18. Your competitors gush over your booth . . . . “Don’t Change a Thing! Seriously, Not a Single Thing!”

19. You found a “Win a Free Palm Pilot” Promotional Flyer in the case.

20. Your boss says, “By golly, it was good enough for Old Joe, bless his heart and God rest his soul.”

If you recognized any of these, put your display in the compost bin.

How do you determine the expiration date of a trade show display? Please share. 😉

–Mel White


Based in Portland, Oregon, Classic Exhibits Inc. designs and manufacturers portable, modular, and custom-hybrid exhibit solutions. 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 or




16 Responses to “What’s the Expiration Date of Your Trade Show Display? 20 Clues.”

  1. Reid still has the N-N-N-N NAPA know how!

  2. David Pearce says:

    You built it yourself, and think it really stands out from your competition!

  3. Mel says:

    Nice addition David.

    Yes, it stands out . . . but not in the way you think. 😉

  4. If your idea of a big screen display is an overhead projector and you show it on a large, blank white section of your back wall, then you might be obsolete.

  5. If your exhibit has a fragile label on it because of the glass fish bowl inside, you might be obsolete.

  6. Mel says:

    Thanks for contributing Mr. Foxworthy.

    I believe we have a new blog post idea in the wings.

  7. If your idea of lead retrieval is an open brief case and a pencil, you might be obsolete.

  8. If your 10×20 requires a half truck load, you might be obsolete.

  9. Mel says:

    If your idea of ground freight is Cowboy Cody and his 20 mule team, you might be obsolete.

  10. selwyn says:

    Mel, great topic

    This is all too funny and provided a pretty good laugh. . . !

    Thanks for sharing, all of you

  11. If this last high tech item you bought for your booth was velcro, you might be obsolete.

  12. Jay Johnson says:

    There is a special shelf for your bag phone to get optimum reception!

  13. If leaving your pager in the hotel room (or at the bar) is a particularly frustrating problem, you might be obsolete. (for the young-uns a pager was sort of like the first texting, only you didn’t get any words, just a beep tone that alerted you to pick up the pay phone and call the office – pay phone explanation to follow)

  14. Don Jalbert says:

    Ok, this is an older blog post, but still relevant and funny.

  15. Rich V says:

    Or you have to wait to complete the crating of your exhibit until the halogen lamps cool down enough to safely store without melting or scorching any adjoining packaging…

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