We got back from San Francisco on Tuesday night and spent yesterday catching up on things that had piled up during our absence, mostly e-mail and preparations for spring quarter, which starts on Monday. Today will be spent packing and shipping orders that accumulated while I was gone, including plant orders that have been waiting since the dead of winter to be shipped to cold climates.
It’s always fun to visit San Francisco, and we took an extra day after the salon just to enjoy it. This time I gained a much better appreciation for the layout of the city by staying in the North Beach area and walking everywhere except Berkeley, which we visited by BART.
Overall I'd deem the second annual San Francisco show a success, especially given that these fragrance salons sponsored by Taste TV are a work in progress, still ascending the steepest part of the learning curve.
Michael and I had been traveling in Europe and Canada (my university work, his vacation!) for most of March, so only had three days to prepare for the salon. I was glad that I’d done it before, so all I had to do was go down my checklist, making sure the 35 pounds of Fed Ex boxes were sent off in time to arrive before the show. Nevertheless, by the time I got to San Francisco, I was pretty much feeling like a zombie.
The venue was a huge, enclosed dry dock at Fort Mason, a former military installation, so we were out on the water with gorgeous views of the bay and the Golden Gate Bridge. On the one hand, it was nice to have the perfumes in the relatively tiny "penthouse" up above the level of the chocolate, with plenty of ventilation. On the other hand, there were almost no signs informing people where we were, or even that we were there. With better signs in the park and the nearby farmers' market and cheaper tickets at the door, I think we could have had twice as many walk-in visitors.
One puzzling feature was the large empty bar in the center of the fragrance penthouse area. I couldn’t figure out why someone wasn’t serving coffee, tea, and non-chocolate snacks in the morning, adding stronger drinks in the afternoon. It would have probably tripled the traffic to our area. As it was, it was a forlorn, abandoned spot that somehow detracted from the activity in the rest of the area.
The other puzzling feature at both this show and the Los Angeles one was the near-total disconnect between the fragrance salon and the chocolate salon. There was no cross-publicity, no clear indication at the door that the ticket was for both shows, and no signs directing the people in the enormous chocolate area to the tiny fragrance area, which was all the way at the back of the building up a flight of unmarked stairs.
Apparently I can never anticipate the audience. At previous shows I've sold a lot of discovery packs, and brought plenty of them this time. Contrary to expectations, most people this time bought full bottles, so I ran out and had to take orders to ship. It just proves that you never know. Sales seemed better at this show than previous ones, and even some walk-in customers from the chocolate show ended up buying. As at the LA show, I did a lot of educating about fragrance, fielding the question, “How do you make perfume?”, innumerable times and trying to figure out the proper response to the question, “Do you have something lite?”. Maybe it was my imagination, but it seemed that there were fewer press people at this show than previous ones. Maybe they just failed to identify themselves.
In general, I'm happy with the way this show went. It’s always fun to meet and interact with other perfumers, see their displays, and attend the extracurricular events. I look forward to preparing better for the Seattle show in May. It will be fun not having to worry about shipping things ahead of time.