Did you know that it is so expensive to pay drayage and other freight fees for furniture for trade show displays that companies often buy the product at Ikea and then throw it in the trash because it is cheaper?
What if you knew that some of the product you were coveting during all 4 days of the Craft & Hobby Association trade show was sitting in a dumpster behind the Convention Center hours after the show closed?
How would you like to know that the bags, goodies, and freebies that are so frugally passed out at the show are later left over in such quantities that they are thrown away?
The swag bags you'd kill for are being tossed in the trash by Designers, bloggers, and retailers who can't fit it all in their suitcase to get it back home.
This is not an indictment of the Craft & Hobby Association. This is not an indictment of the companies exhibiting at CHA. This is not an indictment of Designers and bloggers.
This is a plea for your help.
For your ideas, solutions, and consideration in helping fix a problem in our industry. I am not what I would call a “granola” green activist. But common sense, a little logic, tells us that throwing away furniture and thousands of dollars in products after a trade show is ludicrous. But it happens. Here's some reasons why:
- It IS cheaper to buy cheap furniture and toss it at the end of the show than to pay the unions running the convention centers to haul it in and haul it out.
- After consecutive 15+ hour days on the trade show floor, company staff is too exhausted to look for a solution.
- They plan to allow designers and other organizations to take the excess product but they either don't show up to collect or they don't have enough man-power to collect the product so it gets tossed out instead.
- Designers don't have enough room in their bags to haul all this swag home without a huge cost, usually about $50 per extra bag or $100s in shipping cost to ship it back home.
- CHA used to partner with charities to get all the donations collected and sent to a worthy cause but they don't seem to anymore….not sure about this. Clarification: I don't know who and if CHA works with charities right now as I cannot find any literature about it on their website. I do know Charity Wings has a presence at CHA and collects donations. I do know some exhibitors work with specific charities on their own as well. This doesn't mean CHA doesn't work with charities – it means I personally am not sure about which charities they work with.
- Charity Wings is there to collect but they don't have enough man-power and let's face it – by the end of the show, they've worked 6-10 days of 15+ hour days and they are exhausted as well.
- Many people don't stay to the very end of the show so there are not enough people to take home the excess.
- The company brings too much product because they don't want to run out.
- People in the company get sick at the show and demos, classes, and other activities that would have used the product are cancelled.
- The dumpsters are on private property and closed to the public – no one is back there dumpster diving to get the free stuff and put it to good use.
Rather than just complain and point out how “bad” this situation is, I think we should discuss it and come up with some viable solutions to the probelm. We've got a year until the next Mega Show, starting January 8, 2015. I am hoping that we can come together with some ideas and manpower to help solve a few problems:
- Take care of the haul-out of excess furniture and product so the companies don't have to pay to do it or figure it out when they are exhausted at the end of a show
- Get the furniture and product into the hands of organizations that can use it for good
- Help us all feel better about leaving behind LESS
- Be an example to other industries
- Do it all in a safe way
Please take a moment to fill out this Google Drive Survey. Leave a comment and tell me, CHA, and anyone who will listen what you think of this problem and SPECIFIC ideas you have for solving it.
Then share this post over social media with your crafty friends. Together, we can find a solution for this problem!!!
Update 5:30pm on 1-22-14: From the comments here and on my Facebook timeline, it is pretty clear that not everyone is clear about what I am trying to do here. So I wanted to post very frankly and plainly to clarify a few things:
- This is not meant to bash or criticize CHA
- This is not meant to bash or criticize charities
- This is not meant to bash or criticize any companies
- This post is about finding a solution to a problem I observed
- Other CHA members from all categories have made comments to me about the same problem
- Some people are unclear about which charities to work with and HOW to work with them
- I want to see if anyone else is in agreement before I bring this issue to CHA
- and if and when I DO bring this issue to CHA, I want to be bringing them some solutions as well, solutions that don't require a lot of effort or time from them to implement
- And if we do find a solution, I would love for it to be a model we can use in other industries.
- I want our industry to succeed!!
- Seriously, I do not want any drama and I hesitated posting this because I was afraid of some backlash. Let's take a positive tact here – let's find a solution if there is one. And if there isn't, then so be it.