NNL West Model Expo Tip Sheet
The brainchild of Vince Nemanic, a longtime modeler and staffer at the NNL West Model Expo, this tip sheet was created primarily to help the first-time vendor (and veteran vendor), and is distributed with the table confirmation letters. Each year we’ve incorporated new ideas, and have structured some of the tips around the show schedule.
Most event staff will be wearing NNL West red, white, & Blue T-shirts. (There are usually a couple of "plainclothes" staffers wandering the show.) Feel free to ask for help. Show staff cannot, however, cover your table for you!
Santa Clara County Convention Center
Parking is in a separate three-level parking garage behind the Convention Center; clearance is 7’ 4". While parking is free, the garage has been "zoned" so that the only vehicle entrance is on the west side from Great America Parkway. (You can enter the property from the south on Tasman, but you have to drive around the garage to the west side.) There are also open-air parking spaces along the back of the property for vehicles that require more clearance.
8:00 AM - General check-in, unloading, and setup
9:00 AM - Box office opens
4:00 PM - Show closes
5:00 PM - Show hall must be vacated
Sign-in & Unloading traditionally been
Vendor sign-in is at 8 AM at Tables A & B, located by the loading dock between the hall and the parking garage. Table B is reserved for those who want to purchase a table or haven’t completed all paperwork, provided resale numbers, etc.; Table A is for all sellers who only need to check-in. Staff members will be available to escort you to your table.
You must be signed-in by 8:45 AM. If you haven't, you lose all rights to your table(s).
Only a limited number of cars can be parked at the exhibit hall loading dock, due to congestion, fire lanes, etc. A show traffic manager will coordinate vehicle unloading at the back doors — especially important if it’s raining. You’ll be directed to a spot for unload, please do not leave your vehicle there any longer than necessary. Please work with and follow the directions of that traffic manager. Those carrying stuff in may stack items next to the roll up door.
All goods must enter/leave the exhibit hall from the back of the Convention Center at the Exhibit Hall ‘A’ entrance; carts, hand trucks, etc. are prohibited in the FRONT lobby. The floor tiles in front are easily damaged.
If you have flyers to promote future model events, you may put them on the side table by the spectator entrance doors.
When the doors open, there's a rush into the hall. It will be pretty fast-paced and crowded - we usually have 500 to 600 attendees. After lunch, the early-morning crowd thins (some of these people got up as early or earlier than you do to get to the show) but we have seen people arriving as late as 3PM.
Shortly before the hall closes at 4:00 PM, the show staff will remind the attendees of the time. At 4:00 PM the show staff ushers the last of them out, and begins clean up. Remember that we all have to be out by 5:00 PM.
1. Get paperwork done. Get your reseller’s permit. The State of California requires that you have a Temporary Seller’s permit for your tax identification number is registered at least 10 days before the show. We have no special pull with them and must comply. If you have the tax ID number, confirmation packet, etc. you will spend a few minutes waiting in the Table A line for your badges. If anything is missing, it could take 20 to 30 minutes. A representative of the State Board of Equalization usually visits us, so have your tax ID number with you at your table. Read the whole registration package in case there are special instructions. In particular, be familiar with your table number and location — and the nearest bathroom!
2. County rules: the convention center doesn’t allow signs to be attached to the walls — even with tape. The sale of spray paints is also prohibited — just don’t bring ‘em. Lead/acid batteries are prohibited. Running of radio-controlled cars, boats, or drones is also prohibited; you can sell them, you just can’t demonstrate them. For insurance reasons the County requires that we use their tables and chairs, so don’t bring your own. Park in the covered garage or spaces in back of the Convention Center (county property), not in front (hotel property). No one has been towed away — yet. Remember the rule about no traffic through the lobby.
3. Price your items. It is MUCH easier for you and potential buyers if each item is individually priced (with a low-tack sticker.) This should be done at home, not at the show; there’s traditionally a big rush at the beginning of the show, and you just won’t have time to look up prices or be applying price tags.
4. Bring a helper. Two chairs and two passes are provided for each table that you purchase. One person simply cannot adequately cover a table, especially at peak periods. You will also eventually have to eat, go to the bathroom, or wander around and shop! Leaving your table(s) unattended is simply too risky, and show staff cannot watch your table for you. If you buy more than one table, bring a second or third helper.
5. Bring a dolly. A hand truck or dolly is invaluable for loading and unloading, especially if you are selling heavy items such as books, cases of kits, etc. It’ll save steps and your back. Store it in your vehicle or behind your table.
6. Bring junk. It’s amazing how handy things like a calculator, pens, pencils, magic markers, table cloths, extra price tags, business cards, tape (fixing torn boxes), bags (for your customers), etc. can be! (See the checklist below.) You’ll probably be surprised at what you’ll need!
7. Bring change. Bring small bills and coins, depending on how your items are priced. Many customers will bring only $20 and $100 bills to pay for purchases. Automated teller machines in the area dispense only $20 bills. Some customers may even use exact change as a bargaining point, so it helps to have plenty of change. Staff cannot make change for you.
8. Bring a counterfeit bill marker. The pens are cheap, and one bogus bill can ruin your day.
9. Will you accept checks? Some buyers will want to pay with a check. Whether you accept it is up to you, but most vendors will not take a check unless they know the buyer.
10. Bring food. The hotel next to the Convention Center usually vends sandwiches, salads, chilled drinks, and so forth at a stand in the lobby, but it can be pricey. (There may also be soft drink vending machines in the lobby — bring coins!) There are several restaurants (Togo’s, McDonalds, Burger King, Denny’s) providing take-out service within a mile or so, but that requires that you leave your table.
11. Dress code. Wear comfortable clothing, preferably layered as the exhibit hall is very cold during check in and warms up during the day. Wear comfortable walking shoes. Do bring a raincoat, though you probably won’t need it, and an umbrella is a nice touch. If you’re going to bring stuff over from the parking garage, a tarp or plastic to cover your goods is also desirable.
12. The Early Bird. Even though the entry doors don't open until 8AM, get there a little early to get in a shorter line and sign-in early, if possible. Be understanding if you see vehicles on the ramp — the staff members who’ve purchased tables need to set up before you are admitted. The faster they get set up, the sooner you can get going .
13. Follow loading ramp instructions. Remember that you are not the only vendor — in fact, we expect 60 or more vendors. Do not leave your vehicle unattended on the loading ramp. The ramp will be blocked if more than two vehicles park there. Unload your stuff as fast as possible and move your vehicle. Some choose to park in the covered parking and bring it over by hand truck.
14. Stealth purchases. Vendors and staff like to buy stuff too! The setup time is the best opportunity for you to look for things you need, meet the other vendors, etc. Many vendors dislike this practice and don’t sell before the public is let in. It is a difficult thing to stop, so you are on your own with this matter. If you’re going to buy stuff, bring an extra box or large plastic trash bags in which to hide the stuff you buy behind your table — otherwise you may be asked repeatedly whether that stuff is for sale. Don't mention to the buyers that you got a "great deal" on that kit before the show opened! This creates bad vibes all around!
15. Showing your wares. There are as many ways to display merchandise as there are vendors and products. Some vendors bring shelving, racks, custom display cases, or simply stack stuff on the table. You can put stuff on display under your table, but that means you usually have to stand in the aisle to keep an eye on it and answer questions about it. Sometimes vendors stack cases of kits behind tables as impromptu shelving; this makes it hard for buyers to get things, and requires someone be behind the table to hand them things. Whatever you do, make it easy to see things and their prices (that will reduce handling), and avoid precarious stacks! If you're near a fire extinguisher, please remember to keep the area in front of the extinguisher clear.
16. Opening kits. People expect to be able to look inside out of production kits unless the shrink-wrap is obviously from the factory. It’s a good opportunity to "set expectations" and double-check the contents — after all, the chrome tree might just be sitting on your workbench!
17. Be prepared to haggle. You should price items for the highest price you can reasonably expect for the item-just don’t get greedy. Don’t be surprised if your buyers counter with lower offers — as little as 50% to 75% of your asking price. Buyers often choose several items and ask for a "package deal" (volume discount.) Use your own judgment, and remember that if it doesn’t sell, you get to haul it home! And remember that a satisfied buyer may buy more at the same show, and/or tell friends at the show about where he/she found a vendor!
18. Swapping. Some customers or vendors take the name "swap meet" literally, and might have items to trade or ask if you take trades. This is totally up to you. If you are looking for some things — post a sign listing the things you want! Some person out there might have it!
19. Parts is parts. You don’t have to bring just new items or collector kits; incomplete kits, unfinished kits, damaged kits, spare parts, and so on are steady sellers. Some people come just to buy parts! It helps if you sort out piles of parts, but many people are willing to rummage through a box in search of some treasure. In general, remember that loose parts don’t sell well, and buyers usually don’t take the time to go through parts boxes until they’ve made several rounds of the show. If you bring decals, put them in a separate box or folder(s) so they’re easier to look through.
20. John Q Public. The Expo is open to the public — try to remember that there is one in every crowd. Be calm, courteous, and honest. Expect LARGE crowds for the first hour or two; it usually thins somewhat between 1PM and 2PM.
21. Day is done. The show ends at 4:00 PM; the staff will announce reminders over the public address system as the hour approaches. You'll probably see last minute bargain hunting; use your own judgment, remembering how fun it is to take merchandise home.
22. Time to clean up. We all have to be out by 5:00 PM promptly. Please clean up after yourself. Put trash in the garbage cans around the floor, and ask show staff where to stack leftover cardboard boxes that you aren’t taking. (The Convention Center recycles the cardboard.) Follow the directions of show staff, remembering that many of them have been at this since Friday night virtually nonstop!
23. We have just a few questions: Show staff may also stop by to ask you about how the show went for you, and look for suggestions to improve the show.
24. If we didn't ask you… If you can think of anything we could do to improve the show or this tip sheet, please write down your suggestion and give it to a show staffer - or grab one of us and tell us!
____ Address book
____ Abandoned projects
____ Airplane ticket(s),
____ Books, magazines
____ Banners, stand
____ Models (boxed, built, etc.)
____ Batteries (dry cell)
____ Business cards
____ Clothing (sweatshirts, etc.)
____ Business license
____ Display cases
____ Cash box (bills, coin)
____ Figures, miniatures
____ Ice chest, drinks, food
____ Hotel reservation
____ Hat pins, mementos
____ Cell phone
____ Traveler's checks, etc.
____ Want list
____ Parts (aftermarket)
____ Credit card(s), imprinter,
____ Parts & parts trees
____ Display models for NNL (!)
____ Bubble wrap or popcorn
____ Tissues, paper towels, etc.
____ R/C stuff
____ Trading cards & collectibles
____ Hand truck or dolly
____ Video tapes & recordings to sell
____ Mailing list (to collect names)
____ Lap top or tablet
____ Local map(s)
____ Counterfeit pen
____ Rain gear (!)
____ Receipt book
____ Rental car reservation
____ Repair kit for models
____ Seller's permit
____ Shopping bags
____ Table covering(s)
____ Table Confirmation letter
____ Throw rug or section of carpet
____ Camera (still or video), memory cards
___ Inventory list
____ Miscellaneous supplies: extra price tags, magic markers, construction paper, tape, notepad