This past weekend hubby and I trekked up to NYC for two children’s apparel market shows. With overnight bags packed and kitties in good care of Uncle Jameson and Auntie Hollie, we made the 4 (ish) hour drive up the I95 and onto the New Jersey Turnpike. We paid the $56 in tolls for the privilege of driving on this fine stretch of road. Little pieces inside me kept dying every time I was asked to hand over more and more greenbacks to my car commandeer. Note to self: maybe one of those DC–>NYC bus companies may be a more economical means of travel next time.
First stop was Playtime over near Greenwich Village. I applied for visitors passes a few weeks back so I could walk the show and get a feel of what other labels are exhibiting, atmosphere etc.
Here are my thoughts of Playtime.
- It was a smaller show, around 100 brands exhibiting.
- Applying for visitors passes was super easy online and they were sent to my inbox about 48 hours later.
- The venue had a free coat check which was nice to get my hat, scarf and coat off my hands.
- Exhibitors were pretty friendly. A lot made eye contact and said hello as we strolled past. We got talking to some Swedish girls who had a line of moccasins and they were happy to talk to us after I told them I was just walking the show to see if I wanted to exhibit in the future.
- No Playtime staff wanted to speak to me about my line and what my plans were exhibiting in the future were. I didn’t get a booth price list or any other pertinent exhibiting information, just a cute little printed calico bag and exhibitor booklet (See ENK Pros).
- The thermostat inside was cranked up way too high. I was sweating like (insert metaphor here). Moot point I know because every public indoor venue in the US during winter has their heating set at 30C/80F.
ENK Children’s Club was held at the Javits Convention Centre which was a fair walk from our Metro stop but we managed to find a nice cafe with good coffee and omelettes for brunch. We passed some drag queens in the foyer who were at a convention next to ENK. What is not a visit to NYC without some drag queens?!
Thoughts about ENK
- I met with the show director and he sat down and spoke with me for about 10 mins to talk about the show, what my future plans are for Darling Betty, sales reps etc. He handed me an envelope with booth prices and ENK policies and we were then let loose on the floor!
- A great deal of variety of different children’s apparel. There was really something for every boutique from first communion dresses to bling encrusted tank tops. It was good to see a lot of manufacturers there so I could see brands that Darling Betty could possibly hang well with and what show rooms are selling what brands.
- Coat check was not free and I had to schlep outer garments with me through 600 booths.
- No exhibitor booklet. It may have been hard to do since the show was quite big.
- ENK’s online request for a visitor pass did not seem to have a clear process. I waited a number of days before emailing them and asking if my pass was approved. They then asked if I was a prospective exhibitor and after replying yes I am, then the show director did send me a generic “come to the show office and we will issue you a pass then”.
Overall it was a worthwhile experience to visit these shows. Both were quite different, especially in scale. Bigger is not always better and I fear the thought of going out with a fiery bang. I’ve heard horror stories of manufacturers dropping 10K all up (booth, travel, hotel) on a show and not get a single order. Although those Swedish lasses did mention that they were not really taking orders during Playtime but will be following up with buyers after the show. I love visiting NYC and it was a plus I caught up with a fabulous friend of mine from Sydney who lives there now.