What a fantastic time I had at the St. Charles Market!! Not just because I had the best roommates a gal could wish for (Penny Franz from Ewe Count in Wyoming and my BFF since 9th grade Sharon from Missouri), but just the Market itself.
I think it was one of the best Markets I've attended in a long, long while and wish that those shops who didn't attend could have experienced the same 'shopping/friendship joy' that I did! Apparently there were some shops who did not attend as Shepherds Bush, Blackbird Designs, Jeannette Douglas Designs and R&R were not going to be at St. Charles this year. There was a time scheduling conflict and these designers were involved in SB's annual stitcher's retreat. Since St. Charles is a relatively 'new' show and since we (The National Needlework Association) do not have enought 'senority points' with the hotel site, we are still be shuffled around date-wise. It takes minimum 5 years of booking the same hotel space at basically the same time of year each time before you can begin to get the dating scheduled just to where you want it to be. SB DID try to change their retreat date when the Market date was announced, but they were locked into it at their end, and Just Nan also was not there because of scheduling differences, so .. there we were! As one of the designers said in the member meeting re shops not attending because the 'big guns' weren't going to be there - "what are we? chopped liver?". I think I personally made up for those who didn't attend with my own shopping purchases!
Arrived on Thursday early afternoon and got settled in the room. Penny arrived later in the day. Did dinner, and chatted at 'happy hour' with some of the other 'early birds' already in attendance. EARLY Friday morning Penny dragged me, somewhat kicking and screaming, down to the exercise room and planted me on a treadmill while she enthustically worked on a stair climber or whatever they're called. Now I have a treadmill at home, at least that's what I think it is .. there are boxes on it and a jacket or two .. but it's no where as techie as this one was. Took a few minutes to figure out HOW to start it, and then minutes longer to make it go a bit faster and faster and faster until I felt I was at the level of walking speed I'm doing when Nick the Golden takes ME for a walk. I was feeling pretty good about the whole thing until I noticed there was a place where it showed how many calories you were burning, and I found out that after 15 minutes I could now safely eat 2 blueberries without gaining weight! Linda and Alan from Lizzie Kate came down and were working out too .. they could converse with Penny, I was able to speak, but only in gasps.
Then went to breakfast .. did the official registration and got our show guide that let us know what designer was in what room and what new stuff they 'might' have with them. We then figured out our plan of attack for when shopping began the next day.
From noon till 3pm, Penny and I took tickets for one of the classes we were both in - A Visit With The Designers - with Patti from SamSarah, Judy from JBW Designs, Sharon from Crescent Colours, Linda from Lizzie Kate, and Linda from Erica Michaels. They each had about 20 minutes where they introduced themselves and talked about their companies or whatever, and present a special kit to each class participant. A fun get-to-know the person behind the design name and how to either do the stitching or present the kit and stuff like that - and the class received rave reviews from all who attended with demands for more classes like this at other markets! Then Sharon arrived and I got to greet her before it was time to get to the next class. From 3 till 5pm, I was part of a panel (with Sharon from Crescent Colours, and Matt and Katy from Norden Crafts - major needlework distributor) on "Using Technology In Today's Business World" - think social networking. This class also went over very well according to the participants reviews turned in, and also with requests for another class like this in the future. (when I got back to the shop and told Debbie - computer/e-mail Debbie - that it was successful, she said ... "that's great .. wait a minute .. YOU were on the panel?" .. I guess she was referring to my own techie skills and that the only way I know how to get a photo off my phone and ON my computer is to throw the phone AT the computer! That evening we went out to dinner and then ... THEN there was 'early bird' shopping from some of the designers who opened up early!
Hit La D Da first .. LOVE Lori's designs and she always has some neat limited edition specials - picked up three of one, then changed my mind, thought no .. I'll just get one for me (it was a wool scissor sheath kit and no picture and decided it would be my treat to myself! (Someone called yesterday to see IF I had any of the scissor sheath kits coming in, and like I almost always do, gave a DEEP SIGH and told her I only had one coming, it was to be for me, but I'd sell it to her. I've Got To Stop Doing That!!!) Then hustled over to Val's Stuff .. also LOVE Val's designs and of course she had limited edition frames packaged with some of her new designs that I had to have! Trying to remember now just where else I went that night ... the whole trip quickly becomes a blurr ... and I know there were other designers we shopped from, heck .. we walked all 4 floors to see 'who' was open! Got back to the room around 9pm and the three of us chatted until we couldn't stay awake any longer. Penny and I had a Counted Thread Group Meeting at 8am the next morning before the 'official Market' opened for business.
Saturday morning early, grabbed breakfast, off to the meeting, then out of the meeting to stand in line at the elevators to get to the show floors. Sent Sharon off to The Primitive Needle (what a madhouse was going on there with Lori's specials and all!) and I was off to Shakespeare's Peddler with my list of gotta haves! Of course to Amy Brueken's room because even though I'm on her auto, I had to see her stuff 1st in person. Check out ONE of Amy's new designs here -- the cover photos for her new 'stack of' series doesn't show that it was framed in a Olde Colonial Designs Mirror where you could pop a design out with each season -- so I had her position herself so her reflection in the mirror would show! As far as my shopping plan there was 'some order' to the places I had to get to first, depending on the amount of requests I had for a designer or if they had something special I didn't really know about and had to check out; other than that, we'd do a few places on one floor, then up or down to another floor to shop at one or two, then down or up to another floor, and on and on and on. Sharon dragged me back to the room around 2 to eat something (she needed to, I didn't want to) Many of the places I'd place my orders and then, rather than wait with all the selling confusion going on around us all, would make arrangements to come back 'later' to pick up my purchases and pay at that time. Sharon would pack as much as she could carry into her big Stitches N Things teal/lime tote bag, and then with other bags in hand, would leave me to take those purchases back to our room. That night, the ONLY way I could get to my laptop on the table in the corner, was to crawl OVER the table .. underneath and around the table were nothing but bags and bags and bags, and more bags! That night, feet aching like you wouldn't believe, we ordered pizza in, drank Sharon's bottle of wine, and started going over stuff. I took some pictures to put on my website, but lighting in the room is so terrible most of them just didn't come out .. so that would have to wait till I got back home and to the shop where I'd have my scanners going non-stop. Penny started pricing her purchases; Sharon had brought cardboard boxes to me and we started packing product so it could be shipped home. Then bed .. Penny and I had another early morning meeting that next morning.
Early breakfast and then off to the TNNA Members' Meeting .. then back in line at the elevators for the final hours of shopping (9am till 4pm). Today's plan was to get to every designer I hadn't been able to get to on Saturday and go back and pick up purchases from the day before that I'd not gotten back to yet. Rather than wait for elevators, Sharon and I took the stairway to each floor - but on the return trips to the room to stash the goods DID take the elevators .. somehow going from floor 4 to floor 9 on stairs just didn't cut it for me! Sharon had to leave to go back home around 1:30pm and I was so sad to see her go .. we have such few chances to get together. She did go back home much poorer, as she'd purchased some of the new stuffs from me in our room. Her biggest regret over the shopping was that Homespun Elegance was not in attendance at this show and she's a huge fan .. actually, that was also her biggest joy too as she MUST have the "Year Of Halloween" that Sandra is doing and would have found her wallet in serious trouble if she had been able to get into that room!!
You can see some of the pictures from Market here .. courtesy of The Needlework Retailer
After Sharon left, I walked the floors, into each room again. This time to check out needlepoint places that were there to see if I could find any little gidgies or gadgets that I had to have for my shop, and also for more extended visit time with designer friends old and new. Of course, that got me into PERSONAL trouble at one room ... in the show book a company called The Cooperage (who does the most wonderful little punch needle designs) was to be showing some of their designs converted into cross stitch! Got in there and found that the cross stitch part just didn't happen the way they'd planned and they still only had punch needle to sell. So .. there I was .. looking at punch needle and found 3 or 4 new designs that I just HAD to have for my own punching pleasure, and as long as I was going to punch them, would have to have extras for the shop as I'd be displaying the finished pieces there! My Last Check was written there - you can see their blog and a picture or two here http://www.flew-the-coop.blogspot.com/.