What amazing plans do you have for Thursday? Me? I’m driving to Cincinnati for Great Homeschool Conventions! I bet some of you will be there sometime this weekend, as well. I won’t be shopping, though. (Well, not primarily – I definitely will be doing some shopping if I have time.) I’ll be there as a vendor, helping out at the Geography Matters booth. I hope you’ll stop by and say hello.
Over the last couple of years, I’ve had the opportunity to attend several curriculum fairs to help out the vendors of some of my favorite products. I’ve also had the opportunity to talk with lots of vendors and work closely with many of them as a social media manager. It’s different on that side of the table. I thought I’d share some of my insight from the vendor side of the table.
I think it’s important to note that this is my insight – what I’ve observed. I’m not speaking for any particular vendor, including Geography Matters.
Vendors aren’t just trying to sell you a product.
Sometimes, when I’m gushing to a homeschool mom about the product she’s considering – the one I love – I feel like she probably thinks I’m a pushy salesperson. I’m not. I truly love the product.
The only vendors I’ve worked for have been those whose products I used and loved before we developed a working relationship. Since then, I’ve discovered that it’s not uncommon for homeschool vendors to have homeschool parents, who use and love their products, represent them at conventions. They can’t be at all of them personally, so this allows the vendor to be represented at as many conventions as possible.
So, most likely, if the vendor is gushing, it’s because he or she truly loves the the product. Even if it is the author, publisher, or distributor that you’re talking to, they really aren’t just trying to sell you a product. It’s in their best interests to help you discover the best fit for your family, even if that means it’s not what they’re selling. It doesn’t do them any good for you to buy something, hate it, and tell all your friends you hate it.
Vendors want to answer your questions.
No, you’re not bugging anyone when you ask questions – even if you have lots of them. Homeschooling is a huge responsibility. Vendors want to help you:
- Find the right curriculum fit for your family
- Make sure you understand how to use their curriculum
- Make sure that you find the right level and have whatever supplemental materials you need
- Enjoy homeschooling
Ask. That’s why vendors show up at curriculum fairs.
Support your favorite homeschool vendors.
I’m as much about a bargain as the next person, but it’s important that we, as homeschool parents, support the creators of the products we love. You might be surprised at how many homeschool suppliers are small mom and pop operations who are creating products based on their passions. Many are homeschool parents (past or present) who have created products for their families or products they wish they’d had for their kids.
You may be able to get a bargain if you go home and order online from the big box store, but the people at the curriculum fair with the higher prices aren’t trying to rip you off. They’re just trying to make a living. Yeah, they may still get the sale if you buy elsewhere, but they’re also using their sales at curriculum fairs to decide whether or not it’s worth the financial investment to come back next year.
Curriculum fairs can be a big investment for the vendors. They have to rent their booth space. Then, there are travel expenses, such as gas or airfare, hotel accommodations, and meals. There is also the time spent away from home and family. So, if you enjoy being able to see your curriculum options in person and being able to ask questions of the vendors, purchase from them while you’re at the convention.
It’s win-win. Not only are you supporting your favorite vendors, but you get to take home all those brand-new books right away. Can you tell I’m something of an impatient person?
Those are just some of my observations from the other side of the table. If you’re in Cincinnati this weekend, stop by and say hi! If not, there’s still time for you to catch a Great Homeschool Conventions event this year. The next one is in Ontario, CA, June 12-14.
Kris Bales is a newly-retired homeschool mom and the quirky, Christ-following, painfully honest founder (and former owner) of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. She has a pretty serious addiction to sweet tea and Words with Friends. Kris and her husband of over 30 years are parents to three amazing homeschool grads. They share their home with three dogs, two cats, a ball python, a bearded dragon, and seven birds.