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Pen Show Etiquette

pen show etiquette

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9 replies to this topic

#1 penzealot

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Posted 01 May 2016 - 20:16

Hi!

 

Just wondering if I can get a clear picture of pen show etiquette. I have seen a few posts about show etiquette, but they haven't covered all of the topics I have questions about. 

 

I have attended one pen show and here are the questions that resulted:

 

1. Handling the pens - I am enquiring because most vendors didn't seem to care if we picked up the pens to look at them and their nibs. I saw many people posting pens and writing with dry or wet nibs on paper. However, I went to one table and began to pick up a pen (nothing too fancy, a Sailor Starburst if I remember correctly) and was heavily scolded by the man working the booth. Also, I witnessed a man get the same sort of scolding when he attempted to post a pen at a different booth. 

 

2. Price shopping - There was a very specific pen I was looking for at the pen show I attended and only two vendors had the pen. One vendor was asking significantly more than the other, despite the fact that they were both brand new pens. The less expensive vendor sold the pen I wanted while I was looking around and trying to make up my mind, so I went to the other vendor and asked if he would price match what the other vendor had offered. He immediately asked me who gave me that price and stormed off to his table when I told him who it was. I was left with my mouth hanging open and wondering if I had done something wrong. I don't know what resulted from the storming off, but again, I felt like I had done something wrong. 

 

3. Lingering - is there a certain window of time that is acceptable or unacceptable to talk to vendors or look at their pens?  I had to do A LOT of waiting to look at certain things and talk to certain people. However, when I got my turn, I felt like people were irritated with the amount of time I was spending (even though it wasn't more than anyone else). Is there a certain flow to pen show that most people follow?

 

4. Using a pen - is it okay to ask to use  pen? Several vendors were inking up new pens and selling them, and other refused to ink up new pens. I understand why a vendor would not want to ink up a new pen, but i don't understand where the line is drawn.

 

5. Pre-Show - I know that for most shows (if not all) you can pay for early entry. Is there a special, more exclusive early entry? I have read that there are after-hours activities, or "pen parties" but don't know how to get involved. Are these parties exclusive, or can anyone attend? How can a person find out about these things as an attempt to get to know more people in the community?

 

I think that's all I've got question-wise. Can't wait to hear what all of you have to say. 

 

 

 



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#2 ac12

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Posted 02 May 2016 - 01:26

Here is my take:

1 - Safest is to always ask before touching. Some pens are rare or just plain expensive and may sell for well over $1,000. Remember the old saying "you break it, you bought it." Personally, because of that, I won't handle high value $$$$ pens.

As for posting, for a dealer selling premium pens that is an issue, because posting could scratch the finish of the pen. And when you are talking about a pen that could sell for over $1,000 a buyer does not want the finish scratched, I wouldn't. There are people here on FPN who will not post their pens, because they do not want the finish scratched. If in doubt, do NOT post.

2 - Anything goes for pricing. You can discuss prices with the dealers, some will negotiate, others have firm prices. You won't know till you ask, so ask. On Sunday afternoon, some (not all) sellers may give an end of show discount. Again, you have to ask, or you may not get it.

There is the saying "you snooze, you loose." You have to be ready to pull the trigger, and take the chance that you will not find the same pen cheaper at another seller. Because by the time you circle back, as happened to you, someone else could have bought the pen. Also if you take too long to think about the pen, the person standing next to you might buy the pen from under your nose. That you are holding the pen does not mean you will buy it, you could be 'window shopping.' So the first one to say that he will take the pen, likely gets it. As a seller he wants the sale, not a 'maybe' sale from someone 'window shopping.'

3 - Many people only think of themselves. They want others to move fast, but when it is them, they want all the time they can take.
If you are a serious buyer, sure spend the time, because you are going to drop $$$$. Then the seller would not mind spending the time with you.
If you are just 'window shopping' then let others in.
This is a judgement call.

4 - As for using a pen. Always ask. Some will and some will not let you ink the pen. The line is drawn by the individual seller.
One consideration is if someone were to buy it, they may not want a pen that has been 'used.'
When a seller lets people ink and try the pen, he also has to clean all the pens after the show. I can tell you that cleaning can be a tedious task if he has more than just a few pens. So the more pens the seller has, the less likely he may be willing to ink the pens. And some pens, like a Parker 51, are difficult to clean.

5 - Trader/Early Entrance time and cost will depend on the individual show. It may be a significant premium or a small one. You need to read the schedule and fees for each show, as each show is different. Go to the show's web site. The SF Show last year had a premium price 'trader' pass for Friday, 'general public' was on Sat & Sun. This year there will be a Friday morning entry trader pass and a 1pm early admission, both with premium pricing over the Sat/Sun general public rate. So read the schedule and fees for each show, in advance of going to the show. Cuz if you show up on Friday, and want to get in at the General Public (Sat/Sun) price, you won't get in. Fair is fair, the other people who paid extra to get in on Fri, would not like if you got in at the cheaper Sat/Sun price. Pay the premium Friday price, and you will get in.

As for other related activities. You have to read the show information, on the web site or on a sign at the show. Some may be open, others closed, some free, some with an extra cost, some seminars may have a pre-requisite.
Example1, at the SF show last year, several people complained about not knowing about the seminars. There was a 2ft x 3ft information board RIGHT NEXT TO THE ENTRANCE DOOR into the pen show, yet people walking within 3 feet of the sign ignored it. So always look for the information signs.
Example2, if the seminar is a writing class, and the pre-requisite is to bring a pen, you better show up with a pen. Or if it is an 'advanced' writing class, you should know the basics for that particular style.

Other thoughts:
- Bring CASH. Especially for the registration desk. Some dealers will not take check or credit card.
- Wear good cushioned walking shoes, as you will be on your feet a LONG time.
- Bring a bag to carry your purchases in. Bring a pen case, so that the pens you buy don't get scratched, buy the other 'stuff' that you buy.
- Make a list of what you want to buy, or you will forget to get something. And put the list in order of importance, so you get the important items, and if you don't get your entire list, it is the less important stuff that don't get bought.

Gud Luk

Edited by ac12, 02 May 2016 - 01:27.

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#3 FarmBoy

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Posted 02 May 2016 - 04:19

I believe the answer to your question will depend on two factors:  the Dealer and the Pen in question.


San Francisco International Pen Show - They have dates! August 23-24-25, 2019 AND August 28-29-30, 2020. Book your travel and tables now! My PM box is usually full. Just email me: my last name at the google mail address.

#4 Cyber6

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Posted 02 May 2016 - 15:04

Honestly..  there is no "special" etiquette... just common sense.

 

1. Handling pens - Just ask politely.  Not every vendor is the same

2. Price - Just ask politely. Not every vendor is the same. No point in telling a vendor this guy has it 30% cheaper, his answer would be.. then buy it there.  As you experienced, the good priced pens will fly out quickly. 

3. Lingering - Some people linger more than others, everyone has different interests.  Wait your turn politely, and don't mind others once you have your turn.  

4. Using a pen: Just ask politely.  Not every vendor is the same

5. Get your research done before going to the show.  There are many threads and sites where you can find out about early fees and other things.   

 

 

I know you are looking for specific parameters and maybe a set of rules.  But honestly.. just being polite and ask will make for a better experience, everything else is personality.

 

If you feel like bargaining for a price, go ahead.. it might work or it might not... again not all Vendors are the same.

 

 

 

C. 


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#5 inkstainedruth

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Posted 02 May 2016 - 20:00

Shows can be overwhelming (especially big shows like DCSS).  The advice that other people have already given I can only concur with.  

I will add the following:

1) Take breaks when you hit overload; there will always be another pen at another show.  

2) Keep yourself hydrated (it's easy to lose track of stuff like drinking enough liquids).

3) If you're having pens repaired, and need to sign up for a waiting list, make sure that your phone is in easy reach (and that the ringer is turned up, or at least on vibrate if the phone is in your pocket), so when they call to say you're up you can be ready.  And don't do what I did by mistake one year and write down my home # instead of that for the cell phone....  :headsmack: 

4) If you want to meet up with FPN people, have a name tag with your screen name in addition to the regular name tag (if they have them -- for DCSS the day pass people just get a ticket).  

5) Don't be afraid to ask questions (such as "what's the difference between Pen A and Pen B?)"  There are no stupid questions: for the most part the vendors want educated buyers because that's just good customer service; and because they're pen people too -- they know that getting people interested is good for the hobby as a whole.

6) Above all, have fun -- meeting people and putting faces to names is one of the best parts of shows.

 

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth


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#6 Ayoungentrepreneur

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Posted 09 May 2016 - 20:11

Great thread. Was hoping to go to the DC show this year and I appreciate all the pointers here.

#7 SteveE

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Posted 10 May 2016 - 18:07

penzealot - I think I know the two sellers involved in your item #2.  I, too, wanted a pen that they both had.  I ended up buying mine from the higher-priced seller with no regrets.  For me, the price differential wasn't that much, and the seller from whom I bought my pen is one whom I've dealt with quite a number of times over the past few years.  While I do try to encourage new (or new to me) sellers, I still prefer building a deeper relationship with sellers that I've gotten to know over time. I also know, from personal experience, that the higher-priced seller has been not only very accommodating to me in past transactions, but also that they absolutely stand behind their work and the products they sell.  They also do nib tuning on all pens they sell, which the lower-priced seller did not.  That alone makes up for the difference in price for me.

 

If you want to discuss who is who, PM me.  I don't think this sort of detail needs to be out on an open forum, but since we're both involved in transactions, I'd prefer any further detailed discussion be back-channel.



#8 inkstainedruth

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Posted 11 May 2016 - 16:19

Great thread. Was hoping to go to the DC show this year and I appreciate all the pointers here.

 

I can't go this year because of the date change.   :(  Just be warned -- DCSS is HUGE and can be really overwhelming (sometimes I think that doing DC as my first show might have been a mistake...).

Trying for Triangle Pen Show instead of DC this year, and (maybe) Commonwealth.  And of course Ohio Pen Show in November (which is probably the one closest to Pittsburgh, and so the easiest for me to get to even if I can't go for the entire weekend).

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth


"It's very nice, but frankly, when I signed that list for a P-51, what I had in mind was a fountain pen."

#9 tamiya

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Posted 14 August 2016 - 03:43

I'm no stranger to swapmeets for my many other hobbies... just curious:-

Does anybody at pen shows walk around pinning a "wanted" list on their back?

(usually get good strike rate too, like vendors with listed items would shout out or their mates might know of so&so at another table having certain listed items etc etc)

Seems to be a common-enough thing downunder (but not at our tiny pen show), not sure if it's an odd Australian habit or perhaps just too crass for the FP community.

#10 jmccarty3

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Posted 15 August 2016 - 11:00

I'm no stranger to swapmeets for my many other hobbies... just curious:-

Does anybody at pen shows walk around pinning a "wanted" list on their back?

(usually get good strike rate too, like vendors with listed items would shout out or their mates might know of so&so at another table having certain listed items etc etc)

Seems to be a common-enough thing downunder (but not at our tiny pen show), not sure if it's an odd Australian habit or perhaps just too crass for the FP community.

 

I haven't seen anything like this at the shows I've attended. I have had the experience of asking a vendor if they have something and being told, "I don't have one, but so-and-so over there does."


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