The Baltimore Pen Show was this past weekend, and since it was just a few minutes away from my house, I went for a few days of the show. It wasn't my first show, that was DC back in August of 2016. But DC was a much bigger show than Baltimore, both in vendors and attendees. I really wasn't sure what to expect with a smaller show.
Now, I already have my flights, hotel, and rental car booked for the Atlanta Pen Show so that I can attend the live recording of the Pen Addict Podcast (as well as visit some friends some in Atlanta), so my intention was to keep my purchasing light in Baltimore, while saving for the Atlanta show. I figured that since I was going to be flying to Atlanta, I'd just buy a few bottles of ink at the Baltimore show and only buy pens in Atlanta. Of course, once I got to the show, that all flew out the window.
One of the things that is often stressed on The Pen Addict is that if you're going to go to a show, you should try to get there on the first day that it's open. It's usually less crowded, and it gives you time to get the lay of the show before you have to make any decisions. So, of course, I made sure that I cleared my afternoon calendar so that I could go wander the show floor right after it opened at 11am.
As soon as I walked in, I could tell that I was going to enjoy this show. It was much smaller than DC, which made it much less intimidating when I walked in. Even as someone just walking the show floor, DC is an overwhelming show. Because there were fewer people at the BWI show, there was more room to walk down the aisles, and most of the time you didn't feel like you were blocking someone else's path just by standing at one of the vendor tables.
I quickly wandered over to the Franklin-Christoph table for two reasons: one, I wanted to see what prototypes they had brought, because they have amazing pens and pen shows are some of the only places to get some of the crazy colors that they put out. Second, a few people in the Pen Addict Slack channel had talked about meeting up at the Franklin-Christoph table.
As a quick sidebar, I had made a decision coming up to the Baltimore Pen Show that I was going to be more open to meeting and talking to people. I let being in a new place with people I didn't know get to me at the DC Pen Show, so I resolved to push myself out of my comfort zone a little more at this show.
Of course, once I saw the prototypes at the FC table, I knew that my plan of only buying ink had gone right out the window, and I had to have one. It took me a while to make a decision, but even though the Franklin-Christoph table was one of the busier tables at the show, I never felt hassled to make a purchase. In fact, one of the things that I liked all weekend was that because the attendance was so much lower than DC, I could really take my time and chat with the vendors to find out what I might like a little more.
Having that extra time came in really handy once I wandered over to the Vanness Pens table to start looking at ink. Mike and Lisa had put up their "walls o' ink", plus tubs full of Robert Oster inks. It was the best kind of soiled for choice that one could be. I ended up picking up two Robert Oster inks, Fire & Ice and Khaki, as well as a bottle of the new Aurora Blue-Black, since I was looking for a good "workhorse" kind of ink.
At that point, I was plenty tapped from a budgetary standpoint. Every time I come to one of these shows, I wish that I had set a slightly higher budget than I had, but at the same time, it makes me be choosy about my purchases (and it keeps me out of trouble.) I am finding, however, that leaving enough space in your budget for a pen makes for a really fun show.
the day's haul
Once it got later in the afternoon, I had to run home for another meeting, but I had decided that I would still come back the next day just to hang out around the show, and I was even more glad that I did. More on that in the next post.