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.