Hitting the road, 6 am Friday
Regular readers of this blog may recall the kerfuffle that erupted last August when a colleague departed the Papermania show in Hartford a day early, leaving an empty booth behind. I wrote a post about this which received quite a bit of attention – relatively speaking. The post received seven responses on the blog site and three emails sent directly to me. To my considerable surprise only one of them dealt with the pros and cons of leaving a fair early; the rest were about the Papermania event itself. Every one of them cited poor attendance on Sunday afternoons and opined that the show should only be a one-day event.
This year they even fixed the lights!
I found this response interesting, so I shared it with the show’s promoter, Gary Gipstein.
Flash forward five months to this past Friday morning. After we were all set up for the winter version of Papermania in the cavernous basement of Hartford’s XL center, Gary came on the loudspeaker and announced that henceforth this show would close at 2 pm Sunday afternoons, and that the August Papermania would be a Saturday-only event, with setup as usual on Friday.
We were gobsmacked.
Not a bad crowd, considering…
When I spoke with Gipstein about his decision I got the distinct impression it was based on feedback from his dealer clientele. He cited overwhelming support for the idea of a one-day summer show and said, “I decided on the 2 pm closing [for the winter show] because our dealer population is aging. A lot of them told me they weren’t comfortable driving home at night in the winter.”
I was gobsmacked.
Is that a baby carriage?
The Papermania franchise is a family affair, pioneered by Paul Gipstein, and carried on by Arlene, his widow and Gary, his son. While I had always liked the down-home nature of the event, it was my assumption that Gary was just letting the show run along on its own momentum, and that sooner than later, this momentum would peter out and Papermania would join the lengthy honor roll of dead shows.
Great minds discuss the trade – Scott Brasseur, Jim Olinkiewicz, and Aaron Benneian
Now Gary Gipstein is getting proactive. He’s making adjustments in the show based on dealer feedback. Furthermore, he’s hired a social media consultant to make sure Papermania has a presence on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. You can now find Papermania Plus in Facebook Events, you can like their FB page, and you can scroll through thousands of images at #papermania (once you weed out the twerps who have stolen the name or altered it to PaperMania). I’m sure Papermania shows up elsewhere on the Interweb, but I’m still learning how to use my phone.
Lisa Bouchard REALLY likes this show
Okay, this is not on the level of North Korea sitting down with South Korea, but I think Gipstein’s re-engagement with this show is significant. Papermania and Allentown used to be the top paper shows in the east. Both have fallen on hard times. Here’s hoping Gary can resurrect the family franchise, and that the XL center will once again be teeming with dealers and customers.
(As something of a side-note, during my Sunday morning chat with Gary he told me that he was, in fact obligated to rent the exhibit hall for the entire weekend and that, without the Sunday gate, he’d be taking a minor hit. I suggested that, since he already had the hall set up and the staff on hand, he might consider running a second show on Sunday – a doll show, or a gun show, or a train show – something non-book for which the space would be suitable. “You’re blowing my mind,” he told me. “I never thought of that!”
He was gobsmacked.)