Scriptus, the Toronto Pen Show, which is now in its third year of its most recent incarnation, was this past Sunday, and it was one crazy day. Jon and I (and Caleb) attended the last two years as people looking to browse and buy pens and say hello to kindred pen spirits, but this was our first year as exhibitors. I have no way to say this except that it was a crazy day from beginning to end. I had planned on doing some sharing of photos during the show, but it completely got away from me - and you may have noticed that I didn't share a single photo on Instagram. In fact, I missed taking quite a few photos, including the Franklin-Christoph colour prototypes that we had, our tables set up before the crowds came in, a long shot of all our tables...the list goes on. However, some of the photos I did manage to get sort of capture what happened behind the scenes with our team, and looking back on it, the photos we do have make me laugh out loud at remembering our day. So I guess this blog post is less a snapshot of Scriptus as much as it is a snapshot of the view from behind the tables.
We got up nice and early to pack up the car and make our way over to the library.
Jon packing things up in the truck, and Caleb probably getting in some sort of trouble, and likely trying to close the door so he can't get caught.
Our entire caravan was there nice and early (or so I thought), but it turns out we were right down the wire and then right past it in terms of setting up. People started streaming in just before 10:00, but we were still setting up and pulling things out of boxes. Danielle setting up our tables, and Caleb probably getting in some sort of trouble and likely trying to blame it on the dog, unsure of where the dog actually is at this moment. Jon, Bogdan, Danielle, Sarah, Micah + Caleb. Probably the only time of day Caleb is not suspected of getting into trouble.
I wish I had gotten a better picture of the team... but this is us! And everyone looking at the camera or Jon, except Caleb. Perfect! I also wish I had waited until we actually set up our table before taking our group shot, so it didn't look quite so much like someone had just dumped some random stuff on a table, but I wasn't thinking straight (clearly). Some of our stuff - our raffle prize, inks, postcards + buttons, Wonder Pens Ts, washi tape.
We had our raffle prize on display - people submitted their email addresses to sign up for our weekly newsletter for a chance to win the six Pilot Metropolitans. I think my favourite part of winning that prize would be selecting six inks to put in. Jon is going to be going through all of the entries for our raffle, and we'll be announcing the winner tomorrow on the blog - stay tuned. Danielle being a rockstar.
The day was crazy! It was super busy in the morning, with line ups and crowds and people everywhere. It slowed down a bit after lunch, which was nice after the big rush, and gave us a chance to have a bit of a chat with people. A few people signing up for our raffle, or maybe trying out some of the pens - we filled one with Plains of Abraham and one with Raven Black, our two exclusive inks, for folks to test.
And here is Jeffry and Erin - Jeffry does vintage repairs, and also taught our class on nib tuning at the shop. This is a pretty good reflection of basically all the pictures I took that day: out of focus, with people's heads cut off (sorry!), with half of the shot being blocked by crowds of some sort. One of my favourite customers snagged this flexy beauty early on in the show. Caleb lugging around the coffee while snacking on a croissant. I think he single-handedly consumed half of the staff's pastries rations - one of his new favourite words is "bao," which is Chinese for bun.
Caleb did great! Or at least, he held to his usual level of getting into trouble and roaming around. I know we could have grandparents or asked a friend to help out with Caleb during the day - we knew it was going to be busy - but I really love having Caleb around, even as he's trying to pull down our signs or running into other people's legs or tipping over our cash box onto the floor. One of the best things about opening a shop like this is being able to have Caleb with us, to grow up in the shop and get to have these sorts of experiences. Caleb spent the morning snacking and wandering, and we went to go pick up lunch for the team so he got to stretch his legs a bit and gets some fresh air. We ate lunch downstairs on the first floor, and the staff came down to meet us in rotation for their lunches one at a time. And then, incredibly, he took a two hour nap in his stroller, tucked away just behind our table. Right from when he was a week old, I used to wear him on my chest in the shop, so I think he's gotten used to having some ambient noise around. Customers would come by and look around awkwardly asking, ...where's Caleb
?? And I would gleefully point to his stroller in the corner, knowing every time I did it, I was begging for him to stir and wake up. More snacking. We were lucky to have room behind our tables for Caleb to sit and take a few breaks, truly.
Normally I can generally count on him to stick pretty close by in a crowd, he's not really a runner. Especially with our tables running along a wall, he had a long base to hang out in without getting into too much trouble, or at least bumping into a few adults first. There were two points in the show when I panicked a bit because I couldn't see him - and both times he was hiding in the table cloths. I think he's gotten mostly used to strangers around in the shop, although he's still very shy. Caleb definitely knows when the shop is open and people are around, and he's a bit more reserved - and he also just gets that it's a bit of a different land after dark and the animals are free to wander around with him. He also turns into a different sort of beast that runs around shrieking and grabbing things. After the showed cleared out and most of the vendors had also packed up and left, Caleb had his own free-for-all, delighted at all the open space. Caleb doing his running and shrieking thing.
Making it home was another adventure, and not only because we were literally the last table to finish packing up and get out. Jon got a "new" car recently - he traded in our trusty and rusty 2001 Honda Civic, which has seen us through some good years, for a 2002 SUV. Given how much we've moved in the Civic and the fact that one of my secret ninja skills is being very, very good at Tetris, both the electronic and real life version, we assumed we would have room to spare in the truck. Here's Micah sitting between Caleb, the easel, helium balloons, with a basket on her lap, and me wedged beside her, with our trolley in front of my legs. And of course, being the great photographer I was all day, in this photo, the wheel is in focus. Bogdan, with the stroller at his legs, another basket on his lap, and another box between him and Jon, who is driving.
The Wonder Pens team is nothing if not scrappy.
What a crazy and wonderful day. It was so lovely to meet a few penpals in person (I'm terrible at predicting what people will look like based on their handwriting and personality and stories, no one looked even remotely close to what I imagined), and a few customers from online, and we even got to say hello to a few bloggers, like Pendora's Box.
Caleb got a few gifts, which was a complete surprise but also an amazing help in getting him through the day with a few distractions.
A few people asked if we would do it again next year, and the short answer is I have no idea. There was a lot of prep before hand, maybe more so because we had never come to a show as exhibitors before, and it was an exhausting day to say the least - I came home and I slept 10 hours that night.
But it was so much fun! It was so much fun to meet people and say hello, to see what everyone got at the show, and to experience the show as a team behind the tables. There's nothing like team building when you're all looking for things in different boxes that are all in different places while hordes of stationery nuts are waiting for you to get your act together.
If you read my last blog post
, before the show, I said my one job was to get lunch for everyone, and while you may not think it was possible, I basically botched that job. I'm still a bit shocked that it happened at all, although I guess it really shouldn't be so shocking given my chronically disorganized state. I basically fed Micah, a vegetarian (who I knew is a vegetarian, since I've cooked her meals in my kitchen) a turkey sandwich, which she ate calmly and nonchalantly, out of supreme politeness, while casually chatting with me about life. Even crazier, she asked for the chicken when given the choice between chicken and turkey, and I gave her the turkey by mistake. Scrappy and