There were two changes of note at BLADE Show 2018:
- the expansion to the new John A. Williams Ballroom
- the reduction in additional exhibitor badges sold to exhibitors
Let’s examine both.
With the number of exhibitors growing to a record 950+ this year, the show hall simply ran out of space. Expansion was the most viable option, thus the move to add exhibitors in the adjoining John A. Williams Ballroom. While a number of exhibitors complained about the move due to it separating them from the show hall and how it required more walking for patrons to get to the exhibitors’ tables and booths, the ballroom was extremely busy most of the weekend. Whether it was a real success or not will have to wait between now and next year’s show to see if the ballroom fills up with exhibitors again. The bet here is it will.
Exhibitors buy additional exhibitor badges to get their helpers that assist them in assembling their booth and table displays, etc., into the exhibitor areas early on Thursday and early Friday morning and early afternoon before the show opens to the general public. Such helpers are crucial to the exhibitors to get their displays ready for the show.
Of course, the exhibitors setting up in the exhibitor areas have their display knives with them. Meanwhile, there is a large number of knife enthusiasts that are not helpers who, one way or another, obtain some of the additional exhibitor badges, get into the exhibitor areas early, and try and buy the best knives before the show opens to the public.
When the BLADE Show first started selling additional exhibitor badges to exhibitors years ago, not that many exhibitors and others tried to obtain so many of them—particularly not in the numbers in recent years. It was only a matter of time before the buying of the additional exhibitor badges became a problem, and that threshold was reached at BLADE Show 2017.
It was then that so many holders of additional exhibitor badges were in the show hall immediately prior to the show opening to the public that we—by “we” I mean BLADE Show officials—were notified we would have to delay the show opening. Why? Because the hall was so full of people already that the Cobb Galleria Centre fire marshal said to admit the historically long lines of patrons that were waiting to get in would create a fire hazard. In other words, if there were to be some kind of emergency requiring the show hall to be emptied promptly, too many people in the aisles trying to get out could result in injury to them—or worse.
To delay the show opening would cost exhibitors many thousands of dollars in sales and cause a major inconvenience to show patrons that had traveled from all over the world to attend. Luckily, show officials were able to alleviate the situation to where the fire marshal granted permission to open the show on time.
As a result of the near fiasco, show officials had no choice but to reduce the number of people in the show hall—many of whom were holders of the additional exhibitor badges—before the show opens. And the best way to do that was to reduce the number of additional exhibitor badges available for sale for BLADE Show 2018, which we did. The result was the number of people in the show hall was reduced enough so that opening the show on time this year was not an issue.
Does the reduction impair some exhibitors’ ability to set up their displays? Undoubtedly. However, the alternative of having the show opening delayed or the show possibly cancelled altogether would be much worse.
Though the changes may seem questionable initially, we believe they will be best for the future growth of the BLADE Show. With the continued growth of the show come new challenges. However, we will continue to strive to make this the best show ever for exhibitors, patrons and knife enthusiasts everywhere.
And please make plans now to attend BLADE Show West Oct. 5-7 at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland.