Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Hearts and Flowers in the City of Brotherly Love

Every February for the past five years, I've spent Valentines weekend in Philadelphia, "the City of Brotherly Love". No romance involved, unless you count my love for some of the restaurants in town. No...unfortunately there are no hearts, no flowers. Just a market show that I attend as vendor with a group of my coworkers on behalf of our company.

Some of you have asked what I do when I travel for my company. Well, here's a taste of this annual event.....

Philadelphia is a busy city full of history. Tucked in between the towering modern buildings are others that are hundreds of years old and full of history dating back generations.

The event is held in a historic venue, the renovated Philadelphia and Reading Railroad Terminal Station and Train Shed. If trains and history interest you, google the subject for a pages and pages of fascinating facts and photos showing the place. The Readers Digest version: the conference hall where my company shows our product line to the galleries that sell for us, used to be a major train station. Much of the original exterior structure and substantial interior walls are evident all over the massive conference center, adjoining hotel and market.

This is the Train Shed, which eventually became part of the Marriott Hotel.

Inside the massive arches of the original building remain with paintings to hint at the flavor of an era long-passed.

The old terminal, now a vast exhibition hall.

The event that I attend is the annual Buyers Market of American Craft.

American Craft artists from all over the country bring samples of their art to this event and sell it to retail gallery and store owners. There are jewelers, glassblowers, artists that work in metal and wood and fiber. There are painters and potters and artists that take old street junk and fashion it into sculpture. You can find just about anything at this event from great little watches with whimsical kitty faces to outrageously colorful and unusual furniture. The gallery and store owners in attendance cruise the aisles of the exhibition in search of pieces that they think their retail customers will like enough to buy. It's an interesting business.

I sell furniture. Colorful, interesting, handcrafted furniture fashioned right here in Des Moines, Iowa. Over 100 American Craft galleries across the country carry about product line. It's well-known, colorful and definitely (to some folks way of thinking) something other than the ordinary.

Take a peek at where I spent my time this Valentines weekend. Here are a few glimpses that will help you catch the flavor of the event:

For a better idea, you'll have to visit a gallery that carries our product line.

But this is enough to give you a bit of a taste.

Yup. I spend the weekend with some really handsome fellows.

It's a chance for me to meet in person with people I work with over the telephone and via email all through the year. I talk to some of these folks several times a day.
This is my one chance to hang out with them in person, if only for just a bit, maybe grab a great dinner with one of them at a favorite restaurant.

Soon after it's over, I'm back in the Philadelphia International Airport arguing with the security guys about the necessity of confiscating my mini-bottle of Bailey's Irish Creme.
Yeah, I always lose. Such a glamorous way to end an exciting weekend, huh???

Lined up like neat little sardines on our two-hour ride to home.

Passing the time by taking pictures of the backs of random strangers heads and stuff because I forgot my Oprah Magazine. This guy coughed alot before he finally fell asleep. I kind of wanted to remember him in case I spend the remainder of the winter in the throes of my own miserable, drippy-nose version of his pneumonia.

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