A homeschool mom attends her first homeschool convention. She radiates with excitement. She soaks in all the helpful information she learns in the workshops. She finds the general assembly to be invigorating and the keynote speakers very motivational.
Then she becomes almost giddy. The time she has waited for is almost here. The exhibit hall is about to open. She has looked forward to seeing and holding the curriculum firsthand for weeks.
And then it happens. The homeschool mom walks through the exhibit hall door. Her mouth drops and her eyes glaze over. Her head begins to spin as her senses are on overload.
She sees a room that’s the size of a football field. There are so many aisles full of people crowded together. Exhibitors are lined up one after another. Tables are full of books, science supplies, and every other conceivable educational tool.
The smell of new books and formaldehyde float toward her.
Her ears fill with the sounds of book spines cracking, people chattering and squeaking wheels on rolling carts.
She finds herself surprised as her mouth waters from the sights and smells of pretzels and hot dogs. She wasn’t expecting a food court to be in the back of the room.
The homeschool mom feels overwhelmed as she wonders how she is going to navigate her way through the room. It’s important for her to make all the right purchases for her children.
She can master her task (and so can you) by following these tips on how to be a successful shopper at a homeschool convention.
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Tip #1 – Do These before You Arrive at the Convention
There are a few things you can do before arriving at a convention that will make it easier for you later.
Make a list of all the curriculum and supplies you know you will need and another list of those you are considering to purchase.
It is cumbersome to hold packages and browse through books at the same time. Having a shopping “container” with you to hold your purchases makes shopping much easier.
Some people find carts on wheels convenient. I used a small rolling suitcase with outside pockets. Having my billfold in one of the pockets eliminated the need to carry a purse.
A bit of personal advice – wear comfortable shoes! You will be doing a lot of walking.
Tip #2 – Check the Vendor List in Your Convention Program
Prior to entering the exhibit hall, write down the vendors you want to visit on your convention shopping list. Be sure to include the vendors’ booth numbers.
Tip #3 – Turn Left and Go to the Back of the Room
Start browsing on the left side of the exhibit hall. Why left? People naturally turn to their right when entering a room or when facing a line. The less congested areas are usually to the left.
I also suggest going to the back of the room and move your way forward. The front of the aisles is usually more crowded.
Tip #4 – Browse First
Avoid impulse buying by not making purchases right away. It is so easy to want that “perfect thing” only to later discover there was something more appropriate several aisles away.
It will save you time later if you take notes on your convention shopping list while you are browsing.
You will also find it helpful to collect brochures and catalogs along the way, especially at the more crowded tables.
Tip #5 – Take a Break
By now you are probably getting tired and maybe even a bit cranky. It’s time to clear your head and have a snack.
Try to find a quiet place to have your break and begin strategizing.
Look through the brochures and catalogs you collected, read your notes, and determine which vendors have the items you need.
Tip #6 – Make Your Essential Purchases First
Map out where to go first on your shopping trip. Remember to start on the left side and to the rear of the room.
Make your essential purchases first.
If your budget allows, do some fun shopping next. Buy supplemental items you know want. You will save on shipping and time by getting those items at the convention.
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