Mar 15, 2012

Scrapbook Expo tips

Well, it's that time again.  The scrapbook expo is here in the Bay Area.  Friday March 16 and Saturday March 17 at the Pleasanton Fairgrounds.  I've been going to this expo almost every year for the last 10+ years.  From the many times I have gone, I have a few tips for those of you who plan on attending. 

What to expect?

Shopping shopping shopping!  Almost a flea market atmosphere, where there are booths and people everywhere!  Depending on which day you go and what time of day, will determine how crowded it may be.  From my experience, going later in the afternoon has been best where the crowds have died down and you can leisurly shop more comfortably. 
Products galore!  You'll see the latest product lines from top designer brands in the industry.  Not limited to scrapbooking.  There are die cutting booths, jewelry booths, stamps, fabric, albums, stickers, paper, paper, paper, adhesive, and more.  If you've seen something online, it'll most likely be available here at the expo.  You can also expect "show special deals".  Many 'shops' have special prices only for the expo.
TIP #1: Shop around online, before the expo if possible to get prices.  See what is the 'normal' cost of paper, stickers, stamps, etc.  That way when you're at the expo you'll know more for sure what is a good deal.
TIP #2: Print out coupons.  On the scrapbook expo website, there are coupons for a few booths.  Check them out to see what they have to offer.  Be sure to read the entire coupon as there are usually limitations or certain amount you have to spend before the coupon could be redeemed.
TIP#3: Check out the scrapbook expo website to see where your nearest scrapbook/craft store is located that has $2 off admission coupons.  (Our Paper Place is the nearest one to me - in Newark)

What to bring?
1. Since you'll be on your feet, wear comfortable shoes and comfortable clothing.  You will be bending down to look at things and possibly squeezing between people.  You don't want to have any wardrobe malfunctions or mishaps.  Be sure you're comfortable to shop.
2. Bring water and snacks.  There are booths with snacks there, but who wants to pay for carnival type food?!  Bring your own snacks and drink so you can continue to shop comfortably and not spend your money on junk food, but rather on scrapbooking supplies!  =) 
3. Bring a backpack or a large fabric shopping bag.  You want your hands free if possible.  Purses tend to fall off your shoulder or hit people or products hanging in the booth.  If possible, downsize your purse to be just your wallet and snacks.  You can use your bag to put your purchases without having to have a bunch of plastic bags.  If you plan on buying 12x12 paper, be sure your bag can fit it without bending your paper.
4. Cash.  Most booths accept credit and debit cards, but there are fees if your purchase is less that $10 or $15 dollars.  Most scrapping products, like paper and buttons and such are less than $1.  So having cash is nice for those small purchases.  Plus you avoid the fees.  Also, some booths have a separate register just for cash and you can get out of there much faster since most people do not bring cash.  Also this may help you budget yourself a bit more too.
5. A light jacket.  It is predicted to rain, so have a light jacket to walk to your car. 
6. A shopping list.  I'll explain how to create this list so you don't get overwhelmed and hopefully don't buy things you don't need or only on impulse because it's pretty.  You'll see so many pretty things, but you can't possibly buy it all.  So have this list ready.  Scroll down to see my suggestions for making a shopping list for the expo.

What not to bring?
1. If possibly, try not to bring small children.  There is not much space in the booths for strollers, and there are a bunch of things hanging or on tables that could be easily knocked over by little hands.  I think you will enjoy your experience more without the little ones.
2. Try not to bring a rolling cart.  They are allowed, but they are hard to manouver in small spaces and may get in your way or the way of others.  Unless you plan on scrapbooking there - there's no need to bring any of your own supplies.  "Shop light" and I think you'll be more comfortable.
3. Large bills.  Again, many products are about $1.  Unless you plan on being a huge spender, it's tough to break a $50 or $100.  Bring $20s and smaller bills - the vendors will appreciate it and you're experience at the cash register will be much smoother.

Shopping list tips:
These are tips based on my own personal experiences.  This is just a suggestion.  You are free to ignore me if you choose.
A shopping list helps you to do a few things:
  •  manage your spending
  •  keep a focus so you're not overwhelmed
  •  helps you get your projects done 
When making your list, think of the projects you are currently working on or will be working on in the next few months.  If you are going to scrapbook a vacation or an event - jot that down.  If you can, browse through your stash and see what you already have - so you can possibly be more specific on what you 'need' for that particular project and hopefully not overwhelm yourself when you get back home with too much of a particular themed product.

Example:  I'm scrapbooking my vacation to Hawaii.  I have lots of Hawaiian or tropical papers, but no embellishments.  So on my list I will put "tropical/Hawaiian embellishments". 
This will prevent me from buying paper that I may not ever use or end up in my 'stash' that gets stuck there until our next vacation. 

Another tip when making your list, is think about the items you may have said to yourself that "I'll need to get more of that", or "I just used the last of that".  Replenish your stash of products you frequently use or have used up.  The expo has great deals, so that's a great thing to have on your list.

If you've been browsing the web and saw particular products like stamps sets, paper pads, stickers, etc.  Jot down the brand name and product name, and if you can, jot down the price.  That way you get to compare prices and remember the items you had on your online wish list and don't regret not getting it at the expo.  Plus, you save on shipping by getting them at the expo.

If you have a budget, write that down on the top of your list.  If you feel the urge to splurge on something, you can see if you got most items on your list or not...and how much you have spent already.  Then you can make a better decision if you are to splurge or not.

Of course, you can deviate from your list once you get there.  That's the great thing at the expo - you'll see new products that you may not have even thought of.  But be careful not to buy something that you may know that you will not use. Really think about what the product is, how it will work with what you already have? could you see yourself using it on your next project? do you even know how to use it?  is it worth the price?

I hope you have a great time at the expo.  I hope my input was helpful to you. Have fun shopping!



  1. This is so nice of you to put together this post! Great post. The expo doesn't come back near me until Oct., but I pinned this to Pintrest so I don't forget :O)

  2. Ezlie,
    This is an awesome post. This is exactly the kind of guidance I need because I tend to just buy whatever I like without a plan and I've accumulated so much stuff I haven't used...but I will SOMEDAY! In the meantime, I have a little trouble to slow down buying stuff - geez I'm sounding like a hoarder! But I appreciate your thoughts here!

  3. I've never been to a scrapbook expo (mostly because I hate crowds), but found the info very helpful. I'm sure I will take much of your advice if I ever break out and go to one. ;-)