Below is an encounter I had with one of my competitors at CES 2012 and to this day I'm still weirded out by the incident.
This year I had the privilege of being invited to the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and was able to attend on Friday which was the last day of the event. Throughout the previous week I carefully planned who I wanted to visit and get a feel for possibly having a GRAB-IT PACK PRODUCTS booth in 2013
In an event I can only call “serendipity” I saw a posting on Twitter with a link to the World’s first ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE STORE which is located in Las Vegas. Since I was going to be in town I wrote them an email stating I am a makeup effects artist that has played a Zombie in numerous films and that my product would be PERFECT for their store. The night before leaving I received an email that told me to “stop on by!”
While perusing the CES booth catalog I noticed a few carrying case lines attending and to my surprise a product similar to mine was also there. Since I never saw their product other than online I was excited to see what they were all about.
I’m not going to mention their name for reasons that will become obvious as you read this story.
The ride from Los Angeles to Vegas went well and I enjoyed catching up on podcasts that were months old and taking up space on my iPod. Traffic was extremely light early in the morning and I arrived at 11am to find one last parking space directly across from the Convention Center. My daughter would have said, “Rock star parking!”
After getting my badge that had my name and GRAB-IT PACK PRODUCTS printed on it, I noticed I was being stared at by a gentlemen standing next to me at the tram stop to the main room. He asked me what the Grab-it Pack was and I showed him. He then went on to say, “You emailed me the other night, I own the Zombie Apocalypse Store!”
This was an amazing coincidence and we spoke the whole bus ride which made me really excited to see his store. I got directions and hoped I would get the chance to stop by after the show.
Upon entering the main floor I visited the booths with the carrying bags. Everything was impractical, high fashion, and overly priced. Nothing I would even consider competition since it is an entirely different league.
Eventually I arrived at the booth I specifically wanted to see. The display was mediocre at best and when I saw their products up close I couldn’t believe the amount of money they charge. However if there was one thing I was jealous of, it was their ability to advertise and market to the masses. THAT is why they charge so much!
I carefully examined them at length and then decided it was time to speak with the booth attendant. A few seconds passed as I tried to vie his attention from his infatuation with reading an instruction manual of some sort. I introduced myself and stated we sale items to mutual distributers. He stated he was a marketer for the main company and that I needed to have one product per year in order for them to have any interest in my company.
I noticed he wasn’t even paying attention to me anymore and I stated, “I can handle that.” I don’t think he heard me and I couldn’t understand the reason for his attitude since no one was in the booth.
He then asked me, “Do you like looking at naked girls?” I only responded with a perplexed look and a painful reminder that I did see the movie SHOWGIRLS when it opened. Does he think I’m like Nomi Malone? That’s the main character in the movie, a bumpkin type that just fell off the turnip truck in the big city. I just saved you the pain of searching out this horrible film in order to understand my ridiculous comparison.
He began to slightly escort me out of the booth while he said, “There is a DJ down this way and go right where the music is loud. There are some near naked hot girls dancing around.”
I looked at him even more perplexed and all I could gather after being so astounded by the absurdity of the situation was, “Ok? Thanks?” Is this why “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas”? He turned his back on me quickly and got back to reading.
The time was passing slow and I was pretty much done with the trade show at this point so I called the Zombie Apocalypse store and arranged a meet up time in 45 minutes.
Right up the street from TREASURE ISLAND I found the destination and had a blast checking out the store. Customers were all asking me about what I was wearing. Mike the owner proudly stated, “That’s his product and we are now carrying it!”
I left his store with a cool t-shirt and made new friends with similar interests. On my drive home I realized I had an overall better business experience with someone who was genuine, honest, and proud of their business rather than someone that pumped thousands of dollars into a booth.
I’m sure the booth did well due to their exposure but customer service and just plain awesomeness is something that can’t be patented. Worse yet, it’s hard to recover from someone that just treated you like a tool.