Rothwoman Stoneware


Atlantic City China and Glass Show

The most painful lesson so far

The largest and most prestigious trade show for our industry was held once a year, during the first week of January, in Atlantic City. The Show was open for five days. After a few years on the waiting list, my application was accepted. Now I could mix it up with the big boys. We had sold more planters and accessories than in any previous year. The available selection was our most varied and attractive.

The main hall of the Convention Center was huge, with a grand entrance by the boardwalk. All the major manufacturers, like Wedgwood, Dansk, Franciscan, Sango China, had multiple booths, professionally designed, with custom lighting and displays. Salesman wore tailored suits with matching ties, and greeted important customers with familiarity and deference. Along the side of the hall was a stairway leading to The Mezzanine. A small balcony area, from which I was able to view the goings on below. Rothwoman Stoneware booth was here, flanked by a dozen or so, new exhibitors. I hung up the planters on rods above the booth, placed the jardinieres on much travelled black cloth (with flame proof certificate attached, and visible) and taped our banner to the back wall. I ordered a couple of flood lights.

Alternating sitting and standing I waited for humans, other than my neighbor exhibitors, to come by. A man appeared, walked towards me and said, “two things strike me, your planters and your loneliness.” He was a reporter from House and Garden Magazine. The conversation continued. I learned I was offering a lovely product to a market that was no longer interested in planters, hanging or otherwise. I contained my tears until he walked back down the stairs.

The reporters observations were upheld by loyal customers who eventually stopped by to see me. Overnight, the bottom had fallen out of the planter market. I called Jerry and said, “I’m not going to the LA Gift Show (in a couple of weeks) if all I have to sell is planters.”

“You’re overreacting.” he said.

At the end of the show, I packed up the planters for shipment to a pre-arranged buyer, bid a tearful farewell to the booth and flew back home.

I felt like a terrified rider

diving my horse

into the pool

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Desert Rose.

Could this most beloved pattern offer clues to a new possibility?