After wrapping up another year at the Spring Cottage Life trade show, I thought it would be fun to look back on our trade show journey and how we have evolved over the years.
Have you ever worked a trade show? Well, we hadn’t until we launched Float-Eh in 2018. And woah, did we ever have a lot to learn. We had dreamt up the idea for Float-Eh in 2017 and come Spring 2018, we were so excited to share those ideas with the world. So we signed up to be at one of the biggest trade shows in our area, the Spring Cottage Life Show in Toronto.
We really didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into, neither of us had ever even attended the Cottage Life Show before. But, we knew that we wanted to get our products out there for everyone to see leading into Summer. So we packed up the Ford Edge and off we went.Actual photo of what we brought to our first show
The Cottage Life Spring Show, 2018 was Float-Eh’s big debut to the world. It was exciting, but there was only one problem. We did not have any product in stock yet. In fact we hadn't even received our final samples for some of our products yet. So, we worked that first trade show without any products to sell, just offering products for pre-order.
Picture of our booth at our first show in 2018
Picture this, a brand new company trying to sell you something based on a sample that looks a little bit like what the product will eventually look like? Good thing we were too green to even know how ridiculous this was. And thankfully, the crowd and other vendors were very kind and gracious (probably feeling pretty sorry for us). We had no idea what we were doing and we were way too eager to share our idea. In hinds sight, slowing down and taking the time to do it right would have been a better approach.Our 2018 loon sample we had at the show.Verses what the loon actually looks likeLet me tell you, that first trade show was intense. Lots of questions, lots of bargaining and lots of feedback (both positive and negative). But, the brand was making people laugh and everyone seemed to like the idea. And yes, we did actually make some sales that first year.Daniel with our first every water mat customerThe enthusiasm towards our product was all that we needed to affirm that we were making something that could work. It caught people’s attention and got people interested, so we carried on. The following year we were ready to hit the shows again, but this time with the actual product!2019 set show setupYou may have noticed that our water mats looked very different back in 2018/2019. Our original water mat was called The Great Canadian Water Mat. We had come up with an idea to take a typical water mat and make it “Canadian” by adding a film with a design on it. It looked like a giant Canadian flag and people were loving it. Other water mat companies were coming to our booth to see what all the fuss was about and they were in shock when they saw what we were selling. We were excited and proud that we had created a product that was unique, being well received by consumers and was even making our competition a little nervous. Little did we know that we would be discontinuing this very product that all the fuss was about. Unfortunately the film did not hold up as well as we had hoped. BUT, that did not stop us. We continued to adapt and learn.
2023 Spring Cottage Life ShowBeing back at the Cottage Life Show this past weekend, one of our favourite things about being there is connecting with our customers and chatting with people who have never seen our brand before. We had so many people come by our booth and tell us how much they love all of the various products of ours that they own. We always have people who remember us from over the years come by to say hi. It warms our hearts and we are very grateful for all of the people who took a chance on us over the years and for everyone who understands and loves our brand and vision as much as we do.When we look back on our journey and in particular on our trade show experiences we laugh with a “what were we thinking” mentality. But, the truth is, all of those shows and situations taught us big lessons. We continue to learn, adapt and persevere through new challenges every year. And always try to keep things fun.