Musings The Day the Lights Went Out

Published on December 7th, 2013 | by karlyn

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The day the lights went out (Or, how I was threatened by the editor of NH Business magazine)

I had a great fundraiser planned at the NH for the Holidays Expo today. In addition to selling my Wired Pearls jewelry, I was offering pearl and gemstone pendent necklaces for the cost of a $15 donation to Dana-Farber. People could also donate more money to get discounts off of their jewelry, including a completely free piece for a $100 donation.

What could possibly go wrong? Jewelry + doing good seems like a win-win.

Sadly, the people running the Expo – the fine folks at Millyard Communications/ NH Business Magazine – decided that creating ambiance was more important than exhibitors making money. The result? Thousands of twinkle lights hung from the ceiling of the exhibit hall….and the rest of the lights off. Leaving everyone, literally, in the dark. Exhibitors who are paying $600+ for a booth + $75 for two days of electricity + $75 for two days of internet couldn’t make sales. Customers couldn’t see products, read labels, or see the true color of my jewelry. But ambiance was priority #1 for the organizers, the only people with no skin in the game. The exhibitors had already paid their fees and the customers had already bought their tickets. So, tough luck.

The vendors immediately began circulating a petition to turn the lights on. By the time it got to me, it had well over 50 signatures. And it worked! About an hour into the show, the lights came on. Cheers were heard around the exhibit hall. People could actually see the products they were trying to spend money on. I made sales, and got donations! Hurray!

And then an hour later, the lights went off. We were told that a videographer was taking footage of the event and that they would be coming up monetarily. Every customer at my booth complained about it. Every single one. I had to stand there and shine the flash on my iPhone onto the jewelry so that people could see what they were looking at, an awkward experience at best when you are trying to buy jewelry. At this point, I called out to a guy wearing a blue vest (the uniform of the organizers) that I recognized from buying my jewelry at the last event but did not remember his name, so I called “Dude in blue vest” and asked when the lights were going to be turned back on. He said “well my name is Matt and I’m the editor of NH Business magazine and they will be back on soon” Well, la de da. NH Business magazine. He said it as though I should genuflect.

And then the lights came back on. Cheers! At this point, I heard that their grand plan was to alternate with lights on, lights off for AMBIANCE. And with the bullshit excuse that “half of the vendors were requesting it.” I talked to many vendors and not a single one was happy with the situation. Customers weren’t buying. No one could see the products.

And then the lights went off. So at this point, I asked my contact – who I THOUGHT was wonderful and just trying to do her best (more on that in a second) – to send me the woman in charge of the event because I had more than a few words for her that I didn’t want to articulate to the minions. My contact had hooked me up with a larger booth a few days before the event after I had complained about not being in the booth I specifically requested months before and I was genuinely trying not to be pissy at her – we can’t help the stupid decisions our bosses make.

And then the lights went on. The woman in charge came over and I asked her to keep the lights on so that people could make money. She said no – that they other vendors were requesting them off. I called bullshit. The vendors couldn’t sell their products and the customers couldn’t see. She stared at me like a deer in headlights. More than a bit pissed, I told her that for every minute the lights were off, I would spend  my time with my $75 internet to write about what I really thought of their event in every place I could and that if she had nothing else to say, she could leave my fucking booth. She left.

Then the lights went off.

Then the lights came back on. And my buddy Matt – the editor of NH Business Magazine :::genuflect::: – walked by and I said “hey MATT, how’s it going.” And he came up to my booth and told me that he didn’t like his people to be threatened. And I said I never once threatened his people – what I threatened to do was write stuff that he wouldn’t like on the internet. And then the dude….from the bustling circulation that is NH Business magazine….threatened me! He had “50,000 readers” and he may….OR MAY NOT….write about me and I should be worried about that.

I was like “dude, have you ever heard of the Internet?”

Perhaps if Matt – editor of NH Business Magazine :::genuflect::: – had heard of the Internet, he may have heard that in social environments, the community corrects itself. And after another few hours of this on/off nonsense, correct itself it did. One wonderful woman – Patti, I believe her name was – stopped by my booth when the lights were out and she and I got to talking and I told her I was running the marathon. She got rather emotional and told me her son had been there and still has nightmares about it. She and I had a bonding moment as I told her that my husband and I had been there and that I thought running the marathon was going to bring closure and be a great day for the city.

An hour or so later, she stopped by my booth to tell me that she had complained to the organizers and she – as a person who paid a $10 entry fee for the privilege of going to a glorified craft fair – had been told that if she didn’t like the lights out, she should leave. She went on to tell me that when she explained to the organizer that she couldn’t read the labels on the hot sauce across the aisle from me and that she couldn’t see the colors of my pearls. Apparently when she mentioned me, the organizer (the one I thought was doing her best) exclaimed “Oh, you must know HER” and then walked away.

Kelly, Matt – editor of NH Business magazine :::genuflect::: – , the answer is no. I had never met the woman in my life. She was simply a nice woman who I bonded with over a shared experience. And one that had common sense to know that YOU SHOULDN’T HAVE A CRAFT FAIR IN THE DARK.

So here I sit, on day one of the fair, in the light (at the moment) using my $75 Internet to write about my experience. Instead of selling my jewelry to customers or getting donations for Dana-Farber because the craft fair is near empty after the organizers have spent the better part of the day driving  away customers by turning the lights on and off and on and off and on and off. And on. And off. And on. Here’s to tomorrow being a bit more productive. And well-lit.

One final note for Matt – editor of NH Business Magazine :::genuflect::: – I’m offering business sponsorships for the marathon if you’d like to learn about the Internet. I recommend the Marathon Level for $500, so you’d get a complimentary digital marketing consultation. Or you could go all out and have me evaluate your website at the Ultra-Marathon Level for $1000. Since I have more personal Twitter followers than your entire magazine does with its dedicated 50,000 readers, a little outside help might do you good.


About the Author

I'm a non-runner (i.e. a proudly slow runner) training to run the world's most famous marathon. This will be my third marathon, and second Boston Marathon in a row. I will be running as a part of the Dana-Farber Marathon Team and will be raising money for the Claudia Adams Barr Program in Innovative Cancer Research. Follow my journey by joining my mailing list, following me on Twitter or on Facebook.



11 Responses to The day the lights went out (Or, how I was threatened by the editor of NH Business magazine)

  1. Shelley says:

    :::genuflect:::

  2. Megg says:

    What part of “Let’s sell stuff in the dark” makes any sense??? So sorry to hear this Karlyn.

  3. Kari says:

    You go girl! What a nightmare!!! Good luck tomorrow…I look forward to the lights being on.

  4. Bruce says:

    I think that hcopeland@businessnhmagazine.com should read this too.

  5. Anne says:

    I’ve been to many such fairs and I’ve never heard such nonsense.

    That’s one fair that’ll be out of business quickly if they keep that up.

  6. Robert says:

    Reposted in the Middle East….

    :::genuflect:::

  7. Susan says:

    Ah. Yes. “Business” professionals still stuck in a one-way communication-flow mindset: I write in magazine. People believe. I important.

    Did you tell him about the time we all came together on the internet and won @tsand and @ijohnpederson each a Benz?

    Also :::genuflect:::

  8. Jamie says:

    Well, having also been an exhibitor at the same show, I can tell you that there was just ONE company who wanted the lights off. Everyone else I talked with was not happy with how they handled the lights off stuff. And the on/off thing was totally obnoxious. It was also quite obvious that the millyard comm people were hiding! Not a one was seen in my section….I had done the April show this year, and this was quite different. I had many of them come up to my booth and engage in some sort of conversation. Not once did this happen this show.

    Here is where I think this company went wrong (in more than one way):
    -They charge more than some very large Boston shows, and for less space, less advertising, and they allowed in national home based retail biz like Scentsy, Stella and Dot, etc. When you pay a hefty entrance fee, as a vendor you expect some level of return from the event company.
    -Just a mere two or so weeks before the show, they send out an email to vendors that the lights will be “dimmed” to create a positive shopping experience, even stating that dimmed lighting help customers feel more willing to buy. I think of “dimmed”, as well… dimmed…not off….so I ignored this AND NEVER PREPARED TO BE IN THE DARK. My booth has no lighting. And, the more I think of it, do malls keep their lights dimmed?
    -Knowing that they had numerous unhappy exhibitors, did any of the millyard comm people come around and discuss these concerns or ask how they could help improve either for this show or next? Did they attempt in anyway to apologize for even just the stupid light issue? No.

    I do realize that every show a vendor does is a crap shoot. However, I do only “high” end type shows. There is a lot of work that goes into it for me beyond just the business end (like, for instance, scrambling for childcare, etc etc etc) and so I have to make worthwhile choices in where my business money and time goes. I put in a lot of research on what those shows are….and I go in with the expectation for a good turn out and profit. When I spend $600 plus expenses on a show, I expect better than how this was handled. Small business can not afford to waste time and money like this, and I am pretty certain that millyard comm will notice they will no longer have many repeat vendors.

    Oh, and as an aside….did you notice that WMUR never showed up? I had the booth next to their very empty space all weekend. That really hurt our section as there was a double size space with absolutely nothing in it both days, so people just kept walking. And what does it say when one of your corporate sponsors no-shows????

  9. I was told I had to pay 75.00 for electricity because it would be dark and I did not need it due to they kept the lights on I want my money back

  10. Emma says:

    You are a genius! I was in Booth 412 and heard many a complaint from customers who complained and were told to leave if they didn’t like the dark. I will be contacting you and donating. Thank you for speaking up.

  11. Pingback: Karlyn Runs Boston » The worst customer service of ALL TIME (Or, how NH Business Magazine clearly didn’t learn their lesson the first time around)

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