Monday, June 27, 2011

Post Show Newsletter Feedback

Dear Expo Fans,

YOU ARE AMAZING!! Every year, when Joanne writes the "post show newsletter" -- she responds to the complaints and/or suggestions we received after the show. And you, in turn, respond by telling us how SHOCKED YOU ARE THAT ANYBODY WOULD COMPLAIN ABOUT THE SHOW!!


We KNOW how much you love the show. And we KNOW the complaints are actually few and far between -- and frequently about things we do not control...

The point is -- YES --we DO READ every single suggestion. But NO -- we're not fishing for compliments.

But's been wonderful to get all your fan letters, telling us how much you love the show and appreciate everything about the Sewing & Stitchery Expo. We know you understand how hard we work to keep the cost down, while providing world-class special events, hundreds of seminars, a wonderful vendor floor, exciting FREE style shows, FREE parking, etc.

I'll be sharing some of the wonderful, positive emails we've received...this is one of my favorites:


Hello Rita,

I just finished reading your newsletter. I attended the Expo in 2008 and 2009. I would love nothing better than to be there every year, but I live in the Toronto area. So it just isn't possible.

Having read the many suggestions, I have to write and tell you how Sew Expo compares to the Toronto shows. While of course there are many positive suggestions, in many cases I think the ladies who attend Sew Expo really don't appreciate how good they've got it! The fall Toronto show is "downtown." Parking is outrageously expensive. I can't say how much it costs, because I don't drive down there. It is just too scary! If you can park for $20/day I would be amazed. $30 or more is more likely! I either take the GO Train down or more often, I have someone drop me off a hotel the night before and pick me up at the end of the show, or after the day or two that I attend. (Yes, I am counting my blessings... grateful to have both friends and relatives to ferry me back and forth!) The spring show has been at the International Centre near the airport for several years. Traffic is very busy down there, but I manage it. Parking is free, but the lots are huge! They surround the building. As there are usually multiple events taking place there at the same time, parking is scarce. Handicapped spaces (I also have a permit, as does my daughter) are hard to find. The one thing they do there that gets them a gold star is that they set aside some of the closest regular spaces near the main doors as temporary handicapped parking, and if you are fortunate you may get one of those spots. Otherwise, bring your hiking boots and your cane!

While we have had some good classes and wonderful teachers, there are oodles of teachers that we have never seen in Toronto!!! The number and variety of classes here can't hold a candle to Puyallup!

Now I have read, and heard personally, some complaints both about the quality of the food, and its costs. I hope you will tell all of the Puyallup attendees that they are dining on gourmet fare compared to Toronto. And we are paying three times as much for about the worst food imaginable!

The Toronto show is put on by a private company. They are interested in only one thing: money. I will relate an experience that underscores this fact and should help to show how your show is superior! One year, fall show, I planned to go for either two or three of the four days. I selected my classes and sent in my registration and class fees. One of the classes I elected to take was available on two days. I would only be at the show on one of the days, so of course that is when I scheduled it. Shortly before the show I received a phone call, telling me that my class had been moved to Monday, I think it was... which was a day I would not be attending. I told them that, and they suggested I choose another course. I replied that I had already taken all of the classes I wanted, and there simply wasn't another one I was interested in. I asked for a refund. They refused and told me I would have to take the class on the Monday. While they have a strict "no refund" policy, I thought applying it when they had changed the class was beyond unfair. I told them so, and they refused to budge! My daughter ended up taking the class in my place while I looked after my grandson. Contrast that with your policy which lets you exchange the lecture tickets, and cash in the class tickets at will, within a certain reasonable time frame if I am remembering correctly!

Well, there are lots of other reasons I prefer the Puyallup show, but those are the main reasons. While I didn't linger long on the subject, the wonderful classes and teachers offered are the first and foremost reason... nothing like that here! While I know it's human nature to, well, complain a little ;) and indeed there are probably some who would love to attend the Toronto show and would dismiss my complaints, I just had to write and tell you what a good job your group is doing with the Puyallup show. Maybe if these ladies realize that they are already on the side of the fence with the greener grass they will count their blessings, and as Ann Landers used to say, "kwitcherbeefin'".

I'll be back as soon as I can... happy knees would be nice, and no urgent family issues and no more renovations... those are what held me back these last two years!

Happy Stitching!
A Fan in Canada!!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Post Show Newsletter

Joanne sent out the official post-show newsletter. If you did NOT receive it in your email, you are NOT on our official email list. Go to the show website to sign up:

I am putting the newsletter in this blog. Sorry I could not make the "header" come up properly...

Although it sounds like there was a lot of complaining -- that's really not true. Don't worry!! We KNOW 2011 WAS A GREAT SHOW and WE HAVE THOUSANDS OF VERY HAPPY ATTENDEES!! But, as you know, we do review every single suggestion...and we're always working to make NEXT year the best Expo ever...!!


Now that we've caught our breath...

Summer greetings to Expo fans,

Since my winters are spent in Arizona these days, it has taken me a couple of months to get back to you regarding all of your suggestions. We never tire of reading your comments and we take them seriously. Below are the issues you raised about Expo 2011, and our responses. The categories are in alphabetical order.
One request repeated each year is for a shuttle between the fairgrounds and the parking lot. I know only too well how nice that would be, but the high cost of liability and insurance is not something the Expo or the University wishes to take on. As for the handicapped parking spaces, that is a fairgrounds issue. We do not assign those spaces but we will share your comments with the management. And the fairgrounds will not allow tour buses inside the gates. But we will find a bench to put outside the theater for those who cannot stand.
Children 10 and under get in free, but they must have a ticket to attend seminars. In most seminars seats are limited at best.
As for prices, we did not raise prices last year and will not raise them this coming year. We work really hard to keep costs down. And we rent the parking lots so you have free parking. We will not have a multiday entrance ticket because it is too hard for the gates to handle and simplicity keeps our costs down.
Yes, at times the sound system doesn’t work perfectly, cameras don’t always aim at the right thing, and the lady in front has a hat that blocks the view. It is certainly not the way we planned it and we do have sound guys on the grounds at all times, but we are in a fairgrounds and we do the best we can. Please forgive us, we will try to improve as always.
Yes, we will put the rule back on them. Enough said.
We request that vendors prominently display their booth numbers where they are visible. BUT we can only let them know it is to their advantage. We have made the aisle signs very visible and we hope that helps. We are passing your comments on to the vendors.
The address for the fairgrounds is on page 36, where the map is for all you GPS users. I have requested that it be more visible next year…like on the front page! It is also on our website.
For all of our old friends who did not receive a brochure in the mail, I do apologize. It was not our intent to leave you out. There may be several reasons for this but to make sure our mailing list is correct, we will be sending a postcard this summer to each of you via first class mail. It will not require any action if you receive it and your address is correct. If you do not receive the postcard, in August, please go to the website and sign up for the mailing list.
When you look at the class schedule in the brochure, the days for the classes are listed. For example: Thursday/Saturday. This means the class is NOT available on Friday unless Friday is listed.
You still may use the registration form from the back of the brochure or from downloading one off the website. We still process snail mail.
This topic generates our greatest number of complaints. We request NO CARTS or STROLLERS. But we must accommodate any ADA requests. Sometimes when you see roller carts or computer carts on wheels, they are vendors bringing in merchandise. We know carts are dangerous. We offer package check in the State Patrol Building directly next to the Pavilion.
WE BEG YOU to leave those carts at home and avoid hurting someone. If you receive a look or negative comment, you can be assured it will probably be related to your cart!
I am sorry, but we cannot offer child care. Our focus must remain on providing the best sewing show possible.
I know those chairs are too small and too close together. BUT the blame is on the fire marshal. Fire code requires that those chairs be hooked together.
No, we will not use the Restaurant Building next year. In fact, we are going to look seriously at all the available space and do some minor revisions to make our available space accommodate the seminars in a better way. We are trying to do the best we can with the facility we have. If you think this is bad, remember when we didn’t have the ShowPlex?
All other suggestions are being considered and our goal is to find ways to suit your needs.
It seems you need more ironing boards. That means more space for them. We are looking at a fix for this problem with perhaps more smaller ironing spaces in each classroom. I am sure you will see a change next year.
Yes, you loved them and we are looking to do a better job for 2012. Rita has taken on this task and I am sure you will hear about it in future newsletters.
I know these ladies are absolutely the best. For years they have been the heart and soul of the Expo. One of us can have a bad day now and then, but trust me, these volunteers don’t get any better.
I have heard your suggestions. From now on there will hopefully be door prizes in all seminars. BUT PLEASE hear me on this one. All door prizes are given by vendors and speakers. We are very lucky to have them and as the economy has worsened, the vendors have felt the pinch too. Being in a show of this caliber is quite expensive for vendors. They have to pay for travel, shipping goods, hotels, food, booth space, etc. I am not sure if you really know how expensive it is to just be in a show of this caliber. So my guess is that before anyone can start to sell, they have around $2,000 or more invested. And then there is the cost of what they are selling.
So please realize that door prizes are the icing on the cake. Like a birthday gift, it is wonderful to receive but should never be expected. And a BIG THANK YOU to those vendors who have supported us through the years.
All your comments related to the fairgrounds and food are forwarded to fairgrounds management. They control the food vendors, restrooms, doors, and all facilities. We do not choose the food a vendor sells, the prices they charge, or their schedules. We just rent the facilities but we do pass on your comments.
Yes, we know there is cold water in the bathrooms. Again, this is what the fairgrounds provide. And, considering there are as many as 8,000 folks trying to use the bathroom facilities each day, there could be some bad smells although none of us would take responsibility for them.
What free stuff? If you mean shopping bags, they were never free. In fact they priced themselves pretty high. And we made the decision to go green. We all have many tote bags, shopping bags, grocery bags, etc. Let’s use them.
Someone said, “Tough times, more freebees.” I can only respond by saying nothing is free. It costs someone and we are trying to keep our costs low as well. We thank those vendors who support goodie bags, etc. But they are feeling the squeeze too.
Your suggestions for a fabric exchange sounded good until we analyzed it. I am not sure where we could do that. And who would take all those polyesters that no one wants when the Expo is over? I think you had better do this event in your local community.
Having a quilt contest would be a large burden for us. It would require a lot of organization, space for display, judging, etc. We want to leave that to the county fairs and quilt shows.
For those of you who take the pre-Expo classes, we will try to have coffee and tea available in the future. As I said, we are trying to solve the ironing board problem.
Kit fees are determined by the instructor. We try to make sure kits are worth the price and that you know about it. It is listed in the brochure. When we send out tickets, we included a bright orange “kit-fee/supply list” with the order. It is also listed online. You must read carefully.
When there are scheduling problems (i.e., a Pfaff machine was listed and you ended up on a Brother machine, and you specifically wanted to learn to use your Pfaff) you need to let us know right then. Perhaps we can put you in a different class. BUT, these classes are NOT offered so you can learn to use your machine. They are offered so you can learn a technique and/or a process. We may never have the brand or model of sewing machine you own anyway. I am sorry if this happened to you. We did try to contact all students before the class. The dealers graciously loan the machines for your use and usually they bring what they say they will.
We have tried the TV area for husbands…no one used it. WiFi is free and available at the Fairgrounds.
Wow, you were just wonderful in supporting this event with more than 2,400 pillowcases! That is a lot of sewing and at least some of your stash must be gone now. We are going to do it again, thanks to your enthusiasm and generosity. So, keep on sewing and digging into the stash.
This section is always full of a wide range of topics. I hope I address the most important ones. First, the clocks. I would guess most of us have watches, or a cell phone. The fairgrounds doesn’t provide clocks. But we will ask about it.
We cannot change the dates of the Expo! We are locked into the ninth weekend after the holidays with the fairgrounds every year. We are not their only event and the fairgrounds have a schedule that not even I can change.
Gates open one-half hour before any class starts. So, I am not sure what the problem is for getting to a class. Gates open at 8 a.m. normally. Workers are allowed in earlier.
Lost and Found is at the Information Booth in the Pavilion. I will request that it be mentioned on Page 36 of the brochure.
We will start announcing when the show is closed in each building. But when we do announce it, it means the show is really over!
When you have a comment or suggestion, please be specific about the time and place, etc. Even a name and phone number would help so we can get more information. We have received several comments we would love to follow up on, but we have no idea who wrote them and we need more information. And please don’t stuff the suggestion box; it is always obvious to us.
If there was ever a time when I wanted to run for the hills, it could have been the first day of online registration. And may we all give a big round of applause to the Ticket Committee and Ann Sagawa for making this happen and working out all the flaws and details. Yes, I will take the credit for the computer crash because I am the one who made the decision to go online at 10 a.m. Monday. How could I have said that? And then 2,000 people wanted to buy tickets at the same time.
We know there were glitches. We learned, we corrected, and we also know there will no doubt be some glitches in the future. We don’t know what … but we will never announce a start time again. It will be a secret until I die!
Our intent is to charge a $4 handling fee per ticket order. However, that fee may change if the order is for more than one person. This is why we don’t use big ticketing companies because they charge for each ticket purchased ($10 each).
So, we have heard all the complaints regarding registration and we hope to have all those pesky little things taken care of for 2012.
We DO NOT take credit cards at the gates because of the time involved when hundreds of you want to enter at the same time. Please bring enough cash to pay the gate fee.
Again, if you did not get a brochure in the mail, it had nothing to do with online registration. If you are on our mailing list, you will get a brochure.
BUT LISTEN TO ME, PLEASE: Our mailing list is a result of your ordering seminar tickets in past years. This list is purged each year. If you have not ordered seminar tickets through the mail or online prior to the Expo for the last five years, you may not be on the list. You must sign up on our website,
This is run by volunteers who do it for a nominal fee. We can ask they stay open longer but the Expo officially closes at 6 p.m. most days and 4 p.m. on Sunday. We ask that you give those folks a break too.
There simply is no space inside the Showplex for a coat check booth.
I know the parking lot can get full quickly. I also know some of you think the attendants are of no help while others think we should hire some (we do hire them). The reality is, we rent the lots and give you free parking. The only other solution (since we are not in the parking business) is to let the fairgrounds charge for parking and run the lots. I don’t like that option.
There are NEVER enough handicapped spaces. I know this because I have a handicap placard too. It doesn’t matter if I go to the grocery store, the mall, or a restaurant … there are never enough handicapped spaces. And I cannot invent them or change them, though I truly wish I could.
I hear you! We will not use this building again. It is too noisy, too cold, too light, etc.
We are working on a plan to offer fewer classes and eliminate the building. I am sorry that we put you all though that misery. I apologize. We are currently taking all the heated buildings the Fair has to offer. We have no other options.
I apologize again for any teacher who started early or ended early. That is not what we expect to happen. Again, if you let us know who it was, we can talk with them. We also expect they teach the entire 45 minutes or whatever the length of the class is.
We do our very best to describe the classes the way the instructor wants it done. They are required to give us a detailed description of their class offerings and when we don’t understand them, we call them. Sometimes instructors change their minds between the time they send us the information and the time the class occurs at the Expo.
We have taken note of the feedback you gave us about particular speakers and sent your comments on to them.
We know there are not enough needlework vendors. We appreciate your suggestions but they are hard to find. So, if you know them, ask them to contact us.
We have received several complaints about a couple of vendors being rude. We are taking steps to eliminate the problem.
As for beginning classes, the reason there are not more of them is because they don’t fill up and teachers don’t want to teach them. It is as simple as that. We need full classes to make the Expo budget. This year we offered “Basics for the Beginning Seamstress” on Wednesday. It was an all-day class and only five people bought tickets. When we offer similar classes during the Expo, only a handful of people take them.

Well, that sums up the really big concerns. I think you will be pleasantly surprised at the changes we are making for next year as a result of your comments. And some of your favorite speakers are returning too. We will have some really big announcements later this summer and we hope you have already made plans for attending the 2012 Expo.

I thank you for your patronage and wish you the very best summer and fall possible. Now it’s time for me to go pick my peonies and enjoy the summer fragrance. They are one of my favorite things.
See you in 2012,
Joanne Ross

Monday, June 20, 2011

Technology Planning Meeting

When you think about it, technology has absolutely CHANGED THE WAY WE DO BUSINESS. Hey -- that's no surprise to YOU (cuz you are, after all, READING THIS ON A BLOG, ON YOUR COMPUTER...)

But during our May planning meeting -- it was evident from the first's Janet, hooked up to her computer...which, incidentally, looks exactly like my computer...

And, of course, our resident 'techie" -- Ann -- looking at her computer -- with her new I-Pad also set up and ready to do some advanced work for Expo...

Of course, WE ALL HAVE OUR CELLPHONES....and ya'll know I LIVE ON MY COMPUTER... Most of the time, if you send me an email, you get a reply before you have a chance to eat a Twinkie...

This is my FAVORITE techie shot of the day. As I was getting ready to play a PowerPoint of "possible new vendors" -- we have the camera working, but not my laptop. Janet is trying to fix it when I realize the two of us are up on the big I took a picture OF ME TAKING A cool is that?

This is my FAVORITE PICTURE of the 2012 Planning Meeting. We worked really hard on this day...going over every single thing. We analyzed the 2011 show -- which was amazing...but, of course, we want to make 2012 even better. We need to figure out what went wrong with the mailing of the Registration Brochure last December....we want to improve our online registration system....and we need to deal with decreased attendance of the One-Needle would be great if we could improve our Sunday attendance...
SO -- WE HAVE COME UP WITH SOME new plans. We are excited about the new vendors who have applied to the show. There will be some new style show events, and a new Nooner show, and the IPCA is working up an event...and, believe it or not -- we've already hired our Friday Night LIVE and Quilter's Night Out speakers...

As soon as the contracts are signed -- I'll make the announcement...because I AM BURSTING TO TELL YOU. If you are on our "mailing list" -- there will be a first-class postcard sent out this summer, so that we can clean that list up. So -- if you aren't sure -- please go to the SewExpo website right now and SIGN that you will receive the 2012 Registration Brochure in the mail (in December)

Mark your calendars -- March 1-4, 2012...


Monday, June 13, 2011

We Love-Hate the Tents

As you know -- at our recent planning meeting, we reviewed every single comment we received from YOU -- our valued attendees. There are some things we simply cannot control -- like the WEATHER. And, of course, the first week in March -- you can put your money on cold and damp...

And, as hard as we try (we rent the biggest heaters available) there is an element of cold and damp inside the tents...

But the tent classrooms SEAT A LOT OF PEOPLE...and, it's only possible to keep the One-Needle classes at $5 because we can SEAT A LOT OF PEOPLE...

If we moved the show to a convention center the rooms would be perfectly heated and/or air-conditioned -- and the $5 One-Needle classes would cost $20 each.

By using the tent -- it's just a two minute walk for you (from either the Pavilion or the Showplex) to get to the "L" classroom -- where popular speakers like Nancy Zieman and Eleanor Burns were able to teach to a packed house..
Right out the side door of the Showplex -- the Centennial Building has two large classrooms. Mary Mulari taught in one of those tent classrooms. Her class SOLD OUT -- thank you very much. Those ticket sales help us pay the rent...not to mention our six-figure AV bill...

So, as you can see -- there are two big advantages to our tent classrooms. First of all -- they seat A LOT OF PEOPLE... Secondly -- THEY ARE CLOSE TO THE ACTION. Because you only have 15 minutes between classes -- using the tents makes it possible for you to TAKE MORE CLASSES....

This year, for some pre-show classes, we rented another building. The Pauhamus building. It is a lovely building...with real walls and actual temperature control....

BUT if you took one of those classes -- you know HOW FAR AWAY this building is. Renting the Paulhamus building costs way more than renting the tents (yes, we must pay for every space we use)...and it's so far off the reservation -- if we were to use it during the show -- we'd have to provide a shuttle service. Even if we did that -- it wouldn't replace all the seats we have in the we'd have to raise the $5 ticket price...

See what I'm sayin'?? We discussed all of this during our planning meeting. IT IS COMPLICATED. But, during these tough economic times, we are working hard NOT TO RAISE ticket prices...which is only possible if we continue to use the tents...

So -- you should know that we do read all your suggestions. But we don't control the weather. And we hate it that the tents can be cold and damp.

But we love it that they are big and near the action...

Maybe we should rent sweaters??

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Sew Expo @ Quilt Market

The mission of this blog is to show you the "behind the scenes" of the Sewing & Stitchery Expo. People work 365 days a year to make sure the S&SE is the biggest and best consumer sewing show in America. It is a joy for me to represent Expo at industry trade shows like the International Quit Market. This is a picture of me in Salt Lake City -- showing off one of my 2011 S&SE jackets

I had a lovely meeting with the Kwik-Sew I am with Ellen...they were BRAND NEW vendors at the 2011 show and YOU BLEW THEM AWAY. It will be exciting for me to tell you, in future posts, what they are bringing for 2012...

I'm not the only one who decided to wear a message on my back...Here's Sean and Brian of the LikeSew Website company.....these guys are actually FROM Salt Lake they owned this year's Spring Quilt Market...

I found Peggy Schafer, a wonderful friend to Expo -- in the Prym-Dritz booth. I got some great video of a new product that they'll be BRINGING TO THE 2012 show...(You have to keep reading this blog, of course!!)

And here's a picture of the FRONT of me and Sean. He was THE MAN who programmed our online registration...

As you know, there were some problems -- but SEAN IS GOING TO FIX ALL THAT...The first year is always a learning curve. His exact words to me were, "I didn't fully understand the scope of the show..."

Imagine me, rolling my eyes, and saying, 'I TRIED TO TELL YOU!!"