Recap: Dallas Pen Show

This year I drove to the Dallas Pen Show. It’s about an eight hour drive from Kansas City to Dallas through the flat lands of Kansas and Oklahoma with the occasional respite of tollbooth and gas station. While I like seeing the country, this particular stretch of the US needs to be seen once or twice and preferably not at 70MPH. I did get to listen to a ridiculous number of podcasts. I caught up on Make Do, Sporkful, 20,000 hz, Pen Addict, Nerdette, 99% Invisible, Anthropocene Review and several others. If you need podcast recommendations, let me know.

I arrived in Dallas on Thursday around 4pm in 97ºF heat. I was greeted at the bar by team Luxury Brands and was gleefully informed that it was Happy Hour. Moments later, with a gin and tonic in hand, we chatted and caught up on events since the last pen show. It was probably the most restful moment I had all weekend.

Lisa Vanness and Davina arrived around around 7pm with the van after getting ensnared in traffic. We got the van unloaded and ended up heading back to the bar to eat around 10pm.

Friday morning, the first day of the show, you can see in the photo above: the view of the Vanness table as viewed from our nearest neighbor, Franklin-Christoph.

I got one photo of Audrey before the chaos of Friday morning was unleashed.

Five minutes later, this is what the Franklin-Christoph table looked like. I got out of the way.

Lisa Vanness joyfully displaying the Galen Leather products. Clearly, this was after caffeine.

A customer close-up of the much-loved Diplomat Aero in orange ($155).

A rare photo of Cary Yeager (AKA Fountain Pen Day and Kenro). He’s usually the one with the camera but I wa able to capture a photo of him. Coffee in hand, of course.

I got a sneak peek at the new Esterbrook pens. They are brushed aluminum in black and rose gold. These were final prototypes. More news on these soon.

One of the best things about the Dallas show is the Retro 51 table. They will often bring one-off samples, older designs they still have a few on hand and early prototypes to sell. It’s a rare opportunity to see Retro 51 pens all lined up.

Niv from Yafa Brands ready to woo the crowds.

This is some of the gems from Total Office Products, AKA Jimmy and Suzanne Dolive,  pictured above. Wherever this father/daughter team go, there are some choice pens to be had.

And speaking of choice gems, a rare photo of Ms. Suzanne herself. She wa the last photo I captured on Friday afternoon before the battery in my camera went caput.

Saturday was just as jam-packed as Friday, ending at 5pm with packing up and loading the van.

Sunday, I hopped back in my car and drove home– another eight hour drive. I missed a chance to have lunch in KC with other pen friends who were passing through town for a baseball game too which was a bummer. Podcasts are great and all but BBQ with friends would be way better.

Overall, Dallas is a busy, sprint of a 2-day show. For vendors though, I think its a fairly profitable show. So, that’s not a bad thing. The bigger, 3-day shows are marathons, but I feel like I get a few opportunities to see people and an extra night to hang out at the bar to visit with people. Dallas is so compact that its difficult to do any socializing, at least if you’re working the show. So, it’s a trade-off.

I do think this puts the Colorado Pen Show at a certain advantage, being just two weeks later and a three-day show. While it is not as big of a show, three days provides more time to shop, socialize and attend classes and workshops (as an attendee). The Colorado Pen Show would probably make for a better overall experience. Small shows like Little Rock, Triangle and the like might not have all the biggest vendors but there are more opportunities to really see the merchandise that vendors bring and ask the questions you might have about the pens you want to purchase. Dallas always makes me feel like I need a vacation afterwards.

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6 comments / Add your comment below

  1. I was there on Saturday! Being my first show ever I had a blast, spent tons, but loved it. Being a newbie in this I would not recommend going alone again as my eyes were bigger than my spending budget.

    I met several people who showed me around and introduced me to vendors. Mr. Leo was awesome. Linda was able to repair a pen for me, and I purchased lots of paper, and found a ballpoint pen match for my Parker 75 Cisele.

    I bought a hard leather case for traveling and love it! I loved the Lamy vendors also. I hope to make more when I am able. It may be small, from what others tell me, but if it were bigger, my budget would have been blown much more!

  2. I cannot believe I didn’t see you! I was there…part of the maddening crowd, waving bills at vendors, trying to buy pens. It was pretty crazy, and I know crazy.

    Glad you got home safely. Come back to north Texas again soon. And if you’re driving through Sherman to get to Dallas, CALL ME and I’ll feed you or put you up for the night. Or we can just talk ink and pens.

    Vickie White

  3. Great recap! We did miss seeing you in KC, though. Hopefully our paths will cross on the West Coast in February.

  4. It was great to see you there and briefly get a chance to chat in the middle of the crazy Saturday. While I did not buy as much this year, I still dropped a fair amount at the Vanness and Franklin-Christoph tables.

    tip to myself for next year: Don’t trust your memory on the PenBBS inks – I managed to duplicate a purchase made at the 2018 show!

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