A while back I posted a list of 10 Trade Show Tips for Beginners, but I learn something new at each show and thought I’d share some of what I learned during my first Flea Off Market, a monthly event here in Louisville, through a series of posts. Today’s topic is E-Z Ups. I recognize that E-Z Ups might seem dull as a topic, but when I was hunting for information on them I had trouble finding anything useful. Here’s hoping I’m saving you a similar hassle!
E-Z Ups are not made alike. Prior to this April, my first and only outdoor sale was in Denver. Back then, I borrowed an E-Z Up and didn’t think too much about it. A few weeks before the April Flea Off, my husband and I were tooling around a sporting goods store when he noticed they were having a sale on E-Z Ups. For $49.99, you could get a 10 x 10 slant leg E-Z Up whose carrier was on wheels. Trouble was, I could not decide on a color. The options were bright! Bright! Bright. I wanted a plain, white E-Z Up. I’m not sure why that’s the “unicorn” of the E-Z Up world, but I’m here to say that white E-Z Ups are hard to find and, when you do find one, they’re expensive. I finally found one for $69.99 at a discount department store chain. It was 8 x 10, had straight legs and no wheels on its carrier, but I was satisfied.
That was until I got to the show and realized I had foolishly waited until the day of the event to try out my new E-Z Up.
I noticed immediately that the quality of this E-Z Up was lacking. I don’t think it was evident to my patrons, but straight out of the box, I knew the nylon canopy of my discount store E-Z Up was not going to last over several shows. The material (and even the steel of the structure it went on) was much thinner than other E-Z Ups I had seen. So, it was returned to the store where it was purchased. Afterward, I headed to the sporting goods store in the hopes they would still have the E-Z Ups my husband had seen for $49.99. And they did! Plus, they had a color I had not noticed before…Khaki! Khaki is sort of like white, right? Sure it is! I thought I had made a decision until I saw the ever sleek and classy black. My husband at work, I stood in the store for no less than 45 minutes trying to, yet again, decide on a color. Would black draw heat? Would it show dirt? Would tan let too much light in and be as hot as a darker color? I talked to sales people. I called everyone I could imagine would have an opinion to offer. I Googled. Here’s what I learned: Although we learned in grade school that dark colors attract heat, it isn’t as though you are wearing the E-Z Up canopy against your skin. Since the canopy is above you it should, technically, draw the heat up and away from you. That said, it was recommended that you find an E-Z Up with a vented top to let that heat out. Science aside, I wanted to know what someone who had actually used a dark canopied E-Z Up had to say, but I couldn’t get a hold of anyone on the phone. Though my gut said “KHAKI!”, my style side bought the black. I rolled home still waffling back and forth in my imagination between the khaki and the black. That’s when I received a call from Robyn. “You will hate the black canopy,” she said. Having done shows with a navy canopy in the past, she explained that if an event day wasn’t sunny it was going to be dark inside of my tent. “If your event goes into the evening, you’re going to need lights.” Poop. I had just pulled into my driveway, so I turned around to take the black E-Z Up back and buy the khaki.
I’d like to tell you that that’s where the drama of my E-Z Up ends, but there’s more. Here’s another reason to have a little practice session with your E-Z Up: As I set up the new one, I noticed that the canopy had little holes in it all along the underside that looked like cigarette burns. I assumed these were a manufacturer’s defect since the E-Z Up had (presumably) never been out of the box, but if I hadn’t given it a test run I would have been stuck with it. My husband thinks the holes were where someone had used the E-Z Up over a campfire and returned it to the store before I bought it.
I have lugged this thing hither and yon how many times now and haven’t done a show with it yet? But now it’s been tested (i.e. set up in the backyard) and is ready to go for the next Flea Off Market. Come and see me and my E-Z Up (I feel like I should give it a name at this point) at The Flea Off Market, June 6th!