What does one say about preparing for Market? It’s sort of like preparing for the apocalypse, only with quilts and storage bins and shelving units instead of cans of non-perishable food. The word “intense” definitely springs to mind, as the earliest preparations begin a solid four months in advance of the opening day of the show and continue until the very moment the action starts. This is only my second time organizing Market, and calling such a massive undertaking intimidating is an understatement. Luckily, most of my C&T ladies have been to this particular rodeo at least a dozen times, and I don’t know what I’d do without the benefit of their experience. About a bazillion things—and that’s a conservative estimate—happen concurrently, and it’s no mean feat staying on top of all the action.
The most critical part of the early preparations is the calculation of the almighty crate ship date, which is typically about two weeks before the show begins. Once I know when everything needs to be corralled by, I can get a better idea of a timeline, albeit one whose tasks are inevitably moving targets. Still, there’s always comfort to be found in the IDEA of a schedule, even if it never quite matches up with reality.
Things begin getting crazy hectic in early September and don’t really let up until the date the crate ships, which is usually about a month later. On any given day during this time, I could be communicating with our authors about signings and demos, out in the warehouse counting the number of nails we’ll need to assemble our booth displays, going over our booth inventory list with our sales director, or meeting with our designer to create signage for the event. Once we hone in on a specific concept for the booth, we begin developing a floor plan, which means several trips to Home Depot and a lot of curious stares from the employees there, as I’m lucky that I know how to open a toolbox, let alone wield any of the things in it. Luckily, I’m not the one tasked with actually creating anything for the show, which is why everything always comes out looking so amazing.
There are logistics aplenty to organize, from coordinating hotel and flight reservations to ordering electricity and cleaning services for the booth to ensuring that the crate actually makes its 3,000-pound way to Texas on time. In addition, there’s ordering signs, designing flyers, training the rest of the staff on our booth layout—you get the idea. From early September to early October, I’m up to my eyeballs in Market, and while there are inevitably days that make me happier than I can explain to come home to a giant bottle of wine, there’s also the immensely rewarding experience of seeing everything that I’ve worked so hard to coordinate come together at last. And that, as they say, makes it all worth it.