Location, Location, Location…..Booth 2828
It was Friday, April 14th, the first day of the Marathon Expo and Neil and I were driving from Syracuse NY to Boston. This was our first time driving to Boston for the Marathon. We had the SUV loaded with our luggage and Displays.
As I was heading East in New York State and later Massachusetts, I could not help notice the beautiful sights. It was a picture perfect day, but I was a bit anxious. We paid $25.00 extra for Sirius XM radio and I am sure glad we did. I discovered the “Jam On” Rock station and listening to artists I had never heard really added pleasure to the drive. As we were driving, Neil was fading in and out. He puts in some long days on the job, and I am sure he must have been exhausted. Our ride to Syracuse NY from Downers Grove IL went according to plan a day earlier and we were on time.
We got a later start in the morning, heading out of Syracuse, because I was finishing up the engraving on brass plates on our newest Boston Marathon Medal Display. I was filling up the Brass Plates with some Boston Marathon History. We later presented our new Display to the BAA and it got approved. Throughout the weekend, there seemed to be a lot of interest in the Display. Given the high price point, we knew this Display would be for select Boston Marathoners. The Display combines our traditional Boston Medal Display features, with 12 Brass Plates that can have up to 4 lines of custom engraved text.
Below you can see our first one.
In the weeks leading up to the event I had an inexplicable inner calmness come over me and a feeling we would see excellent sales in the very near future. I have had this sense that we are on the brink of some exponential growth. However, a few days earlier, Nell informed me that IMEC (an organization that helps IL Manufacturers) was not going to help us cover our booth costs. They initially said that there were monies available for international events and that they believed the Boston Marathon would qualify. They later said no. So now the 10’ x 20’ booth in a prime location, near the Adidas booth cashiers, the booth added expense was all on us, so the pressure for Sales increased significantly. I still was optimistic, but yet anxious.
As I looked over at Neil a couple hours into our drive, he had dozed off. I knew the Expo was starting and via my Square application, I can see each and every sale. About five minutes into the expo, while driving, I checked the app. and no sales. Ten minutes later I checked again, and no sales. I checked one more time ten minutes later and still no sales. When we are selling hot and heavy, we will make a transaction at least once every ten minutes, so, for almost the first hour, to not have any sales in Boston had me very concerned so I decided to not look at my phone again and meditate along the drive instead….as much as you can really meditate while driving. It was more of a deep breathing, positive thinking exercise. It really helped me to destress and relax and it really put my mind at ease. That inner peace, calmness and tranquility came over me again.
Neil woke from his catnap as we were about halfway into our 300 mile drive to Boston. Maybe about a half hour after I did my meditation, positive thinking exercise, I checked Square again. As soon as I checked, there were at least 10 orders, spaced minutes apart and as I would refresh, more orders would appear. It WAS happening! Needless to say Neil and I were pretty excited and really anxious to get to Boston. I imagined Nell and Orsola must have been hustling and I was finding it hard to believe they could handle all the activity on their own. I later found out, two of our favorite customers showed up and went to work for us, Mary and Tom McManus. Boy, were they ever life savers, not to mention excellent Sales staff.
With the flood of Sales on Friday, it became apparent that it was going to be a special weekend for Blue Diamond.
We arrived in Boston around 2 p.m. which was about 2 hours later than I had hoped. That was due to getting a late start leaving Syracuse. The excitement of the Boston Marathon was in the air and everywhere. Michael, Big O or Orsola’s boyfriend helped us bring up the Displays to the booth from the car. I was concerned about finding parking but it only took me about 10 minutes to find a very convenient garage a few doors down from Hynes. Once I parked the rental car, I joined the others and went to work in Booth 2828.
It was quite possibly the best location we could ask for. The main booth attraction is always the Adidas booth, where thousands of runners purchase official Boston Marathon Merchandise with the jackets being the most popular item. There are probably about 30 Cashiers lined up with one exit on the one end. Our 10’ x 20’ booth was right smack across from the exit on a corner so it was ideal. It was such a prime location that Sam Adams wanted it, but Nell would not budge. Sam Adams was right around the corner from us so that also helped as they were giving out free beers all weekend long.
As I arrived, I could see the Sales activity in full swing so I joined Nell, Orsola, Michael, Mary and Tom McManus, and Neil and went right to work. For the most part, Orsola, Mary and Tom handled the front end with the customers and Nell and I, with Squares on our phones, were handling the transactions. Neil was our “fill-in-the-blanks” guy as usual. I liked that we were getting purchases from all the different types of Displays we had on hand, i.e. small stainless steel Bostons, large stainless steel Bostons, our powder coated Bostons, our standard designs both small and large and our newly released IRONMAN brand products. About 85% of the Sales were for Boston Marathon products. One of my immediate concerns, seeing all the sales activity on Friday was, would we have enough product to last the entire weekend. The answer was no, but luckily we were able to take a long list of orders to ship once we got back to Downers Grove.
Record Sales Friday
Sales were hot and heavy all day Friday. Many old friends stopped by and we made several new friends as well. Tom and Mary’s and Orsola and Michael’s contributions were incredible and without them it would not have been possible to hit a single day record Sales day!
Even though this was year number four with the Boston Marathon, it felt like a coming out party mainly due to the booth location. With the significantly increased exposure over the past years, we made a quantum leap forward with Boston this year!
Going into Boston, we always have intentions of going out and experiencing Boston nightlife, but the reality is that by the time we are done with the expo, we are all running on empty, so for the most part we remained low-key and on Friday we had dinner at the Restaurant at our Club Quarters Hotel, the Elephant and the Castle. Neil and I were able to hit Boston Beer Works one night and Nell, Neil and I hit Chinatown on our last night in Boston.
Saturday, Day 2, and another Record Setting Day
Having hit record Sales on Friday, the bar was set pretty high for Saturday. Day 2’s are always nice for us from the standpoint that we typically are much better rested up. We did not have to tear anything down on Friday. We all had a full night’s sleep and a couple of good meals, so we all were fresh, relaxed and ready to roll. It does make a positive difference when Team Blue Diamond is hitting on all cylinders and we were hitting on all cylinders on Saturday.
Once again, for the first hour or so, activity at the expo and sales were kind of slow. At around 9:30 a.m. things started to pop. From that time until about 4:30 p.m. we were very busy. In the back of my mind, I fully expected our sales would exceed Friday and we would hit another record sales day, and we did!!!
Our two hot selling displays were our signature SSMS2-BOSTON2, our large stainless steel, Display and our SSMS3-BOSTON4-17, which is our small stainless steel, 2017 Display. Throughout the first three years with the Boston Marathon, each year we have slightly tweaked our product mix. Given that our sales are strong across all of our Boston Marathon products, both Nell and I are now comfortable with our Boston product offerings. Each year though, we like to add something new to stay fresh and innovative. Our newest display, our BMFRM1, with the Brass Plates is our latest and greatest. Since it is entirely new, it will take a while for this one to take off and it is for a very select audience. The hope is that each and every year we can keep our customers’ interests and keep them coming back to see what is cooking.
Once again, Mary and Tom McManus came and helped us for a good portion of Saturday and their help was much needed again. Their helped allowed us to hit two record sales days consecutively. Our Saturday record Sales, exceeded Friday’s sales by 21%!!! Mary was also able to sell a few of her books, Going the Distance: The Power of Endurance.
Mary and Tom introduced us to some of their friends including the race director for the Bermuda Marathon. It looks as though we may be heading to Bermuda next year if all goes well. We also were able to introduce Tom and Mary to a few of our friends as well.
John O’Neil a Blue Diamond friend who we had the pleasure of meeting a few years ago picked up one of Mary’s books! John and his wife always go out of their way to stop by and say hello. That really means a lot to us.
For and amazing story about Mary’s journey, we highly recommend picking up one of Mary’s books
After a record setting day at the expo, Neil and I headed to Boston Beer Works to celebrate. Nell opted to stay back since she was exhausted. We brought dinner back for her. It was convenient for us as we were able to walk there. The food was very good and I tried a couple of their beers which I really enjoyed. As I mentioned, it would have been nice to go out, celebrate and hit a few more places while there but we just get too tired from all the work.
It was a great day indeed for us.
Sunday, Sunday, Sunday….
Sunday was another great day for us. The traffic was not as heavy as Friday and Saturday and this allows us more time to converse with our customers/friends and athletes. We absolutely love when customers come out of their way just to say “hi” and it was evident that the Blue Diamond roster has grown quite a bit over the last few years. It is unfortunate that we cannot spend more time but at least we get to catch up just a little bit.
Thank you from the bottom of our collective hearts for taking time to say “hi.”
It was quite clear by Sunday that this year’s Boston was a record Sales event for us. With the pressure on, we delivered. Needless to say, my anxiety was gone.
My best friend, my wife, my business partner, and the love of my life puts her heart and soul into the company. I lost count of the “all-nighters” she has put into get ready for events. As Sunday wound down, Nell was in great spirits really taking it all in and being the light in the room. It was quite obvious that a tremendous weight had been lifted off of her shoulders and that she was happy and in a good place.
Being married to your business partner can be difficult at times but for the most part we figure out not only how to make it all work, and be productive, but have fun with it.
I am a big basketball guy, so to use a basketball analogy, when we are at the top of our game,
Nell is Magic Johnson and I am James Worthy.
I am Scottie Pippen when she is Michael Jordan.
She is John Stockton and I am Karl Malone.
When it is all working we definitely complement one another and synergy and winning are the end results.
Two Surprises Monday,
By the time Nell and I got going on Monday to head to the VIP brunch at the Westin Copley Place Hotel that we get invited to as a licensee, Neil was probably well into his 7th consecutive Boston Marathon. It is quite an honor to be invited to brunch and the viewing of the Marathon, on big screens, each year. The food is always delicious and each year get an opportunity to meet some really neat people.
After Nell and I filled up our plates, and headed over to an open table to sit down and eat, a short time later a young couple joined us. They seemed very pleasant and we made some small talk. About half-way into eating our meals, I noticed Bill Rogers in the room and excitedly mentioned to Nell, “Nell,….that’s Boston Billy over there!!!” Right about the time I mentioned this, he started heading our way and low and behold he walked right up to the seat next to me and asked if it was okay to join us.
Record Sales…and now having brunch with Boston Billy, it was like a dream weekend for us!! Not only did he sit down with us, he engaged in conversation with us throughout the entire time we were there. It turns out that the young lady who was at the table was his daughter. We had a wonderful time and we especially loved listening to his comments as a 4 time Boston Marathon winner, and insight regarding running and the Marathon. Our impression was that Boston Billy was as down-to-earth as one can get, a wonderful and polite gentleman. Bill commented that he liked our products and even took our business card.
After we finished up brunch and were heading out of the Westin, I saw a Facebook alert that our very good friend Cil from NY was in town. Cil is a wonderful friend of ours who put us up in Astoria NY last Fall when we were in NY for the NYC Marathon. About 15 minutes after the alert, while walking down the street a few blocks from the Westin, I darn near walked right into Cil! What were the odds!!! It was nice to see Cil. We exchanged hugs, did some quick catching up, took a few pictures and said our goodbyes. She was there meeting some friends and also meeting her son Josh’s girlfriend.
Cil Shaw Brewer, like Mary and Tom McManus, and several others we ran into throughout the weekend are the blessings that have received during our Blue Diamond journey. We have met so many wonderful customers that have become our dear friends.
The friendships we have established are the single best thing about our Blue Diamond experience.
Later that evening, Nell, Neil and I walked to Chinatown and had a really nice meal together and reflected on our awesome Boston Marathon 2017 experience.
Boston Marathon 2017 for the Blue Diamond family was without question a
#goodtimesnoodlesalad experience once again!
Thank you for reading,
The Blue Diamond Family.