Overall the expo was a huge success! Both days brought a steady flow of people past our booth. We were located right next to the only concessions. Because of this I wanted to take advantage of people lingering so I set up a monitor with a playlist from Youtube on a loop. I also hung the facts and myths on the back drape so people would be able to read them while waiting in line.
The first day I encourage people to pick up our activity sheets and some did. The second day I handed them out and ended up giving away ALL of them! I had some remaining crab hat beanies and I gave those away for free to the kiddos. The actual caresheets weren’t as interesting to visitors as the food guides I had on hand. People were shocked by all the things a hermit crab can and will eat. Everyone loved the story of my Indo wheel walker (hamster wheel). The second day I gave away nearly all of the food samples I received from Isopod Connection. If the visitor told me they had hermit crabs, I gave them some food. I also sent some with the petstore employees. The isopods drew a fair amount of interest too.
I tried to keep a rough count of the people who at least lingered long enough to read our signs but that quickly became hard to keep up with. I spent so much time talking that I was quite exhausted both nights. Even when I took a break my helper was talking to someone when I returned. My binder with the expanded care booklet was a great reference for people looking to buy shells and food. It’s unfortunate more stores were not interested in participating. This show is the most popular in the Amazing Pet Expos series (nationwide) and sells out every year. I haven’t seen the actual number of attendees yet but they expected 25,000.
I was invited to attend two local reptile shows that happen in alternating months. I plan to do this but not in the next few months. I need to get my living situation sorted out first.
So many people thanked me for being there with a message of education, it was amazing! There was so much positive feedback from people that had no particular interest in hermit crabs but were pet lovers and clearly understood that education and awareness are so important. This more than anything gave me hope and told me I had made the right decision. More than one person stopped by on Sunday to tell me how much they had learned from me! To say I ended the weekend with a full heart would be an understatement.
Who I met
I met lots of families, a senior hermit crab owner, a senior pet owner wondering if a hermit crab would be good for her as she ages, teachers, parents of teachers, pet store employees, vet techs, hermit crab owners (young and old).
I spoke to a couple parents who were thinking of getting hermit crabs for their child. I was honest and told them that most kids would quickly get bored. I shared with them that many people who join our community are parents who inherited their kids hermit crabs.
A woman in her 60’s was thinking about a low needs pet after her elderly dog passes. She took lots of information after we discussed how easy a hermit crab would be for her once she had the tank all set up.
Two different employees from the same store stopped to see me (one on each day). They said a customer told them the calci sand they were using is dangerous. Both girls were upset and eager to improve the hermit crab tank. They both stayed and spoke with me at length about what they could do differently. I armed them with info and offered to come to the store to help if need be. Awesome people!
I met some of our existing members and followers too which was so cool!
Small world story… one of our newest members is friends with Kay from the MARR group that was next to me with the beautiful Rotties.
One darling little girl wanted to hear all about the bad side of painted shells. She listened to every word and was so angry. She is going to be a fierce voice for animals as she grows up! All of the kids picked up my shells to listen for the ocean, so adorable and unexpected.
What I would do differently
I would potentially like a bigger booth or a corner booth so I could make use of the second table. I can see how I might re-arrange things a bit differently as well. I tried to pay attention to what people were drawn to.
Put the words HERMIT CRABS somewhere big and immediately visible. I could tell that people were not instantly aware what my booth was about. The fact/myths signs didn’t always catch their attention if they were focused on the table and tank.
Next show I will plan to bring some live hermit crabs with me. Now that I know I can get electricity and keep them warm it will be ok. People were disappointed by my empty shell in the 5 gallon trick. 🙂
I would definitely bring some shells to sell and some food. People were really interested in the worms, acorns, greensand and my samples from Isopod Connection. I forgot to bring worm castings!
I would create a slideshow instead of the full videos. The videos really need an annotation so that people know right away what they are watching otherwise they were not drawn in. A slideshow might work better.
I will be printing some photos of the dangers of painted shells and putting them on display. People were horrified by the process so for those that don’t stop to talk the photos would get the message across.
A simple game for kids might draw them in. The booth next to me had a wheel that you could spin for $1 and get a random prize. That seems simple and I could probably give away a shell or a packet of food…something along that line.
CSJ stickers to hand out to the kids might work well in addition to the activity pages.
Next time I will definitely print a few caresheets for petstores.
There wasn’t a ton of interest in the species poster but that might be different at the reptile shows. I was thinking of offering a few shirts for sale but not sure if it’s worth the upfront investment and maybe I should just make a catalog of designs for sale.
If you visited me at the show, thank you! I hope I was helpful and answered your questions. Speaking to humans is not exactly my comfort zone. 😀
I posted a few short videos each day on Facebook, Instagram and Periscope if you are interested.