The Philadelphia Flower Show     16 March, 2007, 03:34 pm
The nine-day Philadelphia Flower Show is our most grueling and highest-grossing show of the year. The scale is enormous for us: double our regular booth size, day-long set-up time, and about 25,000 attendees per day! With so many sophisticated customers, the show is coveted by arts & craft show exhibitors so that the waiting list is said to number 700 or more. We began contact with the promoters, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, in late 1992 and our first show was 1995. The show itself is in its 179th year in 2007 and if you’ve never been there, nothing can quite compare with the largest indoor flower show in the world!

We began our physical preparations in January, after I developed the Pick Sheet for the show. We keep track of which items sold in 2006 and try to predict the same for this year. As an economist, I am always working out ratios of this item vs. that item to figure out how to pack the show.

For example, we have about 10 different note card boxes and we sell over 600 boxes at the show. We don’t sell these boxes in even quantities so I try to take exactly the proportions that we need. We sell a lot of “Irish Blessings” cards because the show falls just before St. Patrick’s Day, so I have to account for that. At most shows, we can just throw in a few extra boxes, but this show means that we pack the van to the ceiling and there isn’t any extra room.

My brother Richard helps me at this show and we have to make room for his wardrobe, including his 9 starched shirts. He arrived in Virginia on Wednesday and we set out the next morning on our eight hour trip to Philadelphia.

My friend Rick came in from Villanova to socialize and stay with us. Rick also helps us with booth set-up which commenced on Friday morning at 8 a.m. He is a very artistic person and we always appreciate his help and advice.

After finishing our set up, we headed back to the hotel to clean up before going out for dinner. This year we broke with tradition and visited, Omoi, a new store owned by Rick’s daughter Liz. She spent years in Japan and has brought her unique and funky clothes, jewelry, and personal products to downtown Philly. This was a highlight of our trip.

Leaving Omoi, we hailed a cab to take us to our favorite restaurant in south Philly. Villa de Roma is a neighborhood fixture in the Italian neighborhood made famous in the “Rocky” films. They recognized us as “the flower show guys” and we got to sample some of the best Italian gravy (marinara sauce) in the city. That’s saying something in a land where there is a pizza and cheese steak on every other street corner.

The first Saturday was the easiest day at the show. There was a member’s preview from noon to 3:30 p.m. Later that evening, as always, we watched the official flower show TV special. It’s very reassuring for an exhibitor to see that much publicity! Sunday the show began in earnest, opening at 8 a.m. During the rest of the show, the exhibits were open about 12 hours/day. There’s nothing quite like it!

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