The Night Before Dallas Gift Market: Hotel Roulette (or Why You Should Book Hotel Rooms in Advance)


   Let me start by saying, I wasn’t  planning on going to June 2014 Total Home and Gift Market.  In the industry, June Dallas market is known as The Big One.  What this translates to is tons of people who own anything in retail ranging from car washes, hardware stores, hospital gift shops, gift shops, boutiques, floral shops, candy stores, and up to department stores have some sort of presence here.    

  And even though it’s a gigantic place (four buildings, with the main building being basically a 15 story mall) it is unbelievably crowded.  A good majority of the folks are serious buyers for their respective stores, but there are also: the others.  The others are made up of people shopping for themselves, those who came for cash and carry, guests of stores, or showrooms whose only purpose is to mill around often slowly in front of the serious buyers and, wait for it: look.  That’s it, look.  They aren’t going to order anything, but it doesn’t stop them from talking to the overextended sales reps endlessly about things often while the buyers are, in true Southern form, politely waiting for their turn.  It seems to me that they fall into three categories:

1) The Sample, please group

2) The Catalog Hoarder 

3) The Bored.  

  The first group will pretend they want to order whatever product is in front of them, but are just not sure yet.  Surely a free candle, tshirt, lotion, stuffed animal, lamp, etc for them to try will translate into an eventual order.  They will do anything for a freebie, except place an order, because they don’t really want the product.  It’s fun to watch!

   The second group wants your catalog!  You’ll recognize them by their heavy tote bags already filled with catalogs.  They will interrupt sales reps taking orders to demand catalogs for everything in the showroom.  Serious buyers are super happy to get a web address because after 973 trips to market you realize catalogs are out of date before you leave the show.  That third group is the scariest one.  They are often some combination of the first two groups, plus the added factor that they are bored and looking to entertain themselves.   They are never done looking, getting samples, catalogs or getting in the way unless someone puts out a buffet or there is a a celebrity sighting.  

  Now friends, you know I took pictures of people in all of these categories, but I just couldn’t bring myself to post them especially now since I am home and have forgotten why they were annoying me at the time.  It’s kind of like childbirth, once you are home from the hospital with your beautiful baby, you forget all about the crap that got her here.  So, when I am blissfully unpacking new  amazing things at the store I’ll have completely forgotten about this woman who had apparently just come from a child’s birthday party and was showing the registration people the pictures oblivious to the mile long line of buyers who just had to park two miles away who were anxious to get the day of shopping started.

This is a big place. And when it’s crowded it can take all of your extra time just to get from one showroom to another. Bring snacks.
Because it shouldn’t take 10 minutes to check in.

  But, I digress.  The point is, Dallas Hotels are usually booked solid for this show.  So, since I had no intention of going, I had not pre-booked a room.  During Apparel Market you can easily stay wherever you want even if you book that night.  I usually stay at the Hyatt Regency because, though it is a nice hotel the rate is usually around $140 a night and when you are there for 4 days ago it just makes sense not to spend as much, plus I really like eating up on the 55th floor in that big spinning ball.  I’ve stayed lots of other places and some of my favorites are The Adoulphus, The W, The Magnolia, and the most wonderful Mansion on Turtle Creek.  The Mansion is like staying with very rich relatives, who know all the best places to eat.  I like to stay at nice places and it is a prerequisite that the serve Eggs Benedict for breakfast.  Now, a lot of places try to get imaginative and serve variations of the classic: canadian bacon, english muffin, poached egg and hollandaise sauce.  This is fine with me, as long as the classic is also on the menu.  

  When booking a hotel for the first time, I don’t even look at the pictures of the rooms, I check if they have real eggs benedict, if they do I’m game.  This method of choosing hotels has never failed me, until now.So, around 3 o’clock on Tuesday, the day before market started I decided to go ahead and go.  As some of you know, we are doubling in size this Fall, and I accept the challenge to fill it up!  So, I let my dear husband Shannon know and pack my bag.  He was good with me going and leaving him alone with our beautiful, but wild children presumably, that as wonderful as I think I am he needed a little break from the crazy.  And, I am crazy especially now trying to design my dream store.  Which consumes every waking hour, if you stand still long enough I will ask your opinion about minute details that probably will go completely unnoticed in the new store, but are extremely important to someone with OCD.

    I left for Dallas around 8 that night.  

  I usually don’t go to market alone, Brooke (my store manager and best friend) usually has to go along to insure I don’t order stupid stuff if I drink too much (yes, they liquor us up at market to get us to buy stupid stuff.  Big shocker!!).   So, since I was driving solo, I had full control of the radio, and how often I would or would not stop for snacks.  I choose the Country Comedians playlist on Spotify ( the best music service there ever was and hit the road.   I was entertained by all the greats, and was seriously close to wetting my pants around half way.  So, I pulled into Bucee’s in Madisonville, which is under renovation.  Thank goodness that some of the bathrooms were still open.  They are expanding to something like 40 women’s restroom stalls.  I think it’s a little crazy, since I have never on any occasion had to wait to use the bathroom at any Bucee’s, but whatever.  I heard the owner speak at the first ever Texas A&M Entrepreneurial Seminar last year, and he was brilliant, and clean bathrooms are VERY important to him.  I applaud his clean bathroom platform, and the fact that I am able to buy authentic cherry kolaches anytime I want them.  I head back out, now with a Dr. Pepper, cherry kolaches and an empty bladder.  Around 10:30 I get a little concerned that I haven’t heard from Shannon about my room yet.  I give him a call, and after being reassured that the kids are fine I ask where I am staying, and he says “I don’t know.”  This is upsetting to me, since I am almost there.  The Hyatt is booked he tells me, well no crap.  He says he’s going to make a few calls and hangs up.  I fade back into my comedy playlist, but somehow Ron White is just not as funny when you are faced with sleeping in your car in the Dallas Market Center parking lot.  He call back in a few minutes and informs me that he has found me a room.  “the room looks okay.” he says.  “What do you mean,” I ask nervously.  “It looks clean.” he says.  Oh boy.  “Is it the last room in Dallas?” I ask.  “Well, no there are a few in hotels I’ve never heard of.” he tells me, and then he says the magic words: “They have Eggs Benedict.”  Sold.  It MUST be fine then!  Sketchy places just don’t offer eggs benedict.  I smile, thinking I had won June Total Home and Gift Market Hotel room roulette!!  Slow down.

This is what REAL Eggs Benedict looks like. Accept no substitutes.

  So, I pull in front of the hotel in downtown Dallas, under the awning and sit there gathering my electronics.  I neatly tuck my iPhone, the hot spot, the iPad and all my other necessities in my Consuela bag.  This takes a bit, and it dawns on me that the valet hasn’t yet come to greet me and ask if I’m checking in.  This is an important part of hotel staying for me, the valet opens my door, helps me out, gets my bags, and asks where I’m coming from, how the drive was and so on.  But, no one came.  I look around bewildered thinking they must be on break or something.  Then I see the podium inside the two sliding glass doors.  He also sees me.  I smile, he smiles back at me and then goes back to his magazine or whatever.  In my mind, all hell breaks loose.  What is happening?  Why isn’t he coming out?  I open my door, still no acknowledgement of my arrival from the podium.  So, I grab my purse and head in to see what the problem is.  I get inside the first sliding glass door when it hits me.  There. Is. No. Valet.  Now, I am not a snob, I was raised to do things for myself including, but not limited to fixing the toilet, welding, building furniture, building websites, and etc.  I have parked my own car most of the time too, it’s just that I wasn’t expecting to.  So, there I was in between the two sliding glass doors about to rip this poor guy a new one for not running to my assistance.  This was the very definition of being taken down a peg.  I got to the podium, and mumbled my question of where do I park my car while trying desperately not to let on that I had been a princess only moments before.  “In the garage around the corner.” he informs me.  Well, crap.  The only thing I hate more then a hotel not having eggs benedict is parking garages.  I will go to great lengths not to park in them.  But, here in downtown Dallas, you don’t really have another option, that is unless you have no fear of muggers, touchy-feely homeless people or traffic cops.  I happen to have an expired drivers license so I pulled into the garage.  It was as I feared, low ceilings with sharp turns and absolutely no parking on the first four floors.  I am ducking my head inside my car to brace myself for when I will hit the ceiling.  I feel like Alice in Wonderland when she ate that cake that made her too tall to fit in the house.   As I look at the ceiling, I see grooves presumably left by someone who did indeed hit the ceiling, but had no choice but to keep it moving.  At last, on the 6th floor I find a spot next to the doors to the elevator, get checked in and head up to my room.  It’s ok.  I grab the room service menu and check… no classic eggs benedict.  They do have “Cowboy” eggs benedict: scrambled eggs, bacon on Texas toast with tabasco hollandaise, which is not even close.   At this point, I am completely rethinking this whole plan.  

  But, I’m here now and I am excited to shop for awesome stuff the next day!  I think from now on, I’ll just have a standing reservations at one of the eggs benedict approved places for every market and then just cancel if I don’t want to go after all.



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