“Work hard, play hard.” There’s no more fitting place for this old mantra than the pleasure products industry. Fitting in some casual hang-time with your customers and fellow vendors isn’t just a post-trade show option; it’s practically a requirement! I have yet to attend a single event that didn’t involve an after-hours fancy dinner, cocktail party, or other sort of fun activity. Despite our under-eye bags and sore feet, everyone manages to zip downstairs to the hotel lobby to await the evening’s activities.
Good eats and good times are how this industry gives back to its customers and brings them closer as friends. Quality time develops our relationships beyond sales numbers, which is just one of the perks of working in a tight-knit business that functions more like a community. There is rarely a dull moment in our laid-back atmosphere. Once we’ve shut down our event booths for the day, shenanigans are bound to happen somewhere!
During my last trip to the Philadelphia area, our distributor customer took the entire collective of retailers and manufacturers to a local bowling alley. Though I had only planned on a quick pop-in with my co-worker, we were quickly whisked to an alley to play a round with some vendor friends. A fellow sales rep, disgusted by the thought of putting on those always-lovely, musty shoes, refused to lace up for her turn on the lane. My co-worker followed, repulsed by the 70’s color scheme and thousands of prior bowlers who had donned the shoes. In my tired, post-event state, I decided to rebel and follow my shoe-less bowling team’s lead. The staff were less than pleased. We spent the rest of the game trying to avoid the alley’s employee spies, which we called the “Shoe Sheriff,” the “Bowl Patrol,” and another, less savory name I won’t mention here. At one point, one of our team members even jokingly tried to bribe an alley staff member with $50 to turn a blind eye to our rebellious team. Instead of just playing a typical round, our bowling night turned into a hilarious game of “Dodge The Shoe Guys” as we roared with laughter every time another player got in trouble for wearing street shoes. The evening ended when one of the more humored staff members decided to allow me one last shot at the pins before he pulled the plug on our shenanigans.
As far as misbehaving on the job goes, refusing to wear bowling shoes is probably my worst offense yet, but at least I avoided having permanently-smelly feet at the trade show the following morning.