Last weekend was one of the busiest in the pen industry. This is a DC Pen Show recap of my experience over the whole event. In the days leading up to the DC Pen Show, I did a ton of preparation. Between day to day things on a personal and professional level, I crammed a ton of extra stuff into each day.
Pen preparation was also a major part of leading up to the show. I had to decide which pens to bring to represent my personal support of each brand. This is a ritual for me at every show, and not something mandated by anyone. It’s all part of my love for the industry and for my hobby of collecting all writing instruments. Armed with a full zip case of pens, and three journals (one for doodling in, one being my everyday journal, and finally my travel journal), I was ready for the show.
Friday was an early start as we set up tables with our wares. First up is the refill wall – something Bert is known for having at all pen shows he attends. Then all the boxes of pens open up and find organization on the tables, as I greet long-time friends (fellow vendors as well as customers alike).
It was a busy start as people were looking for refills and inks before the show got underway. In between helping customers, we got set up for the day. Looking around, there was a bit of excitement and anticipation of the pen-related fun that the weekend was bringing. As the day progressed, I felt elated at each satisfied customer that I was able to help – whether it was to find elusive refills to match that hard-to-fill pen, or pairing someone to their new fountain pen purchase. It was a fun start to the show, with more of the same throughout the weekend. Before long, the show was over. We were off to enjoy the evening before the big day to come.
Saturdays at every pen show are known to be “the big day”. Whether it’s at our own Baltimore-Washington International Pen Show or at other shows, Saturday is generally more crowded and regarded as the busiest day of the show. This was no different. We were under the impression that the show was going to start later in the morning, so when I arrived and saw customers already inside the show, I ran inside to get set up and ready.
Luckily, day two of setting up is always easier with just flipping open box lids and taking down the table covers from the day before. All day long was a combination of seeking out refills and inks for pens as well as showing great deals that we brought to the show. It was fun seeing our regular customers from the store at the show and catching up with them. Eventually the day came to an end around 6pm, with “closing up shop” by covering the tables once more.
Always something I look forward to is the Saturday night fun. This time I was treated to spending time with friends at a special dinner at Maggiano’s in Tyson’s Corner. Many thanks to Joel Blumberg of Kenro Industries for inviting myself, Kristal, Bert, and Cole to dinner.
It was a great celebration of Joel’s birthday. With us was our friends from Fountain Pen Hospital and Dromgoole’s, and Kenro staff Bryan, Cary, and Neil. The drinks flowed, the food was tasty in a “family style” fashion, and the conversation was plentiful. I also enjoyed the background music that was of a more “jazzy nature” (think Michael Buble). A few hours later, and we were ready to continue the night.
Lastly was Sunday. The final day of the show. Sundays are also known as being a bit more subdued. As everyone recounted stories from the night before, it was fun seeing yet a different crowd of people. While some stayed all three days, there were also customers that enjoy coming on the somewhat quieter Sunday. Many feel that this avoids longer lines and allows for more personal attention going through the show. I get to reorganize the tables and fill empty spots from sold pens with new deals and fresh things to look forward to showing customers. Sundays are shorter, so at the toll of the bell at 4pm we were ready to start packing. We hit the road around 5pm after saying our final goodbyes to all our friends.
Making our way back to the store, we quickly unloaded the truck before the final stop of the show – Quincy’s South. This is a hole-in-the-wall place that we always go to. After a long DC Pen Show, it is a great spot to unwind and have a few drinks and food (loaded tater tots for me), while decompressing and recapping the show among ourselves. I always look forward to that time with Bert (and Cole, and this time also with our new coworker Tori).
It’s exciting to think about what pen-adventure are to come at the next show! What are your thoughts? Did you have fun at the show too? Feel free to share below!