If you have ever shopped at a big bead show and not planned for it properly, you know that lost feeling a shopper can get standing in the middle of the show floor overwhelmed at the many selections of goods available. Should you shop for that one project? It seems a waste to be at the show and do only that! Should you walk the whole floor and see what is new? Will you find your way back to those things you discovered?
The best way to make the most of the show is to plan well for it. If you have access to the floor plan of vendors, and a list of who will be at the show, look at it carefully. Choose those vendors you know and highlight their booths. Check out the other vendors you do not know, and research them on the Internet to get familiar with what they sell before the show. Be ready to find new products.
On the floor plan, mark your path to the vendors you highlighted. If the show is more than one day, use two color paths. Be sure to give yourself time to stop along the way if you see something interesting. If your intentions are to stick to the path without stopping too long as you walk it, be sure to mark the booth and what you saw on the floor plan. Now, once you finish your planned walk and purchases (you should have a list of those, no matter what!), you will find it easy to return to that vendor’s booth.
Your list of things you want to buy should include everything you need to make the next project on your list. If you found the design in a magazine, be sure to bring the entire magazine or supply list along with you. Before you attend your next bead show, think about this: During the last six months, what have you found yourself running to the bead store to buy? What have you been searching the Internet to find and been unsuccessful? If that includes art beads, sterling silver clasps, bead caps, or a new tool, put those on your list, and buy a few while at the show. You will appreciate having those months later when you are designing or making a new pattern (Figure 1). A special thank you to Perry Bookstein from York Beads for allowing me to use his picture of all those Czech beads!