Launching at Pool pt.5

Daniel continues his description of launching at Pool. See previous entries one, two, three and four if you need to catch up. Daniel has also started a thread in the forum where he will feel more comfortable discussing proprietary issues affecting his line.
August 26th, 2007: Pool -1 days
Arrived at the Las Vegas McCarran Airport. WOW it is h-o-t. When I left Toronto it was hot and humid, but this is just HOT and sunny. Not a place to be wearing dark jeans and a dress shirt, which I am!

Fortunately staying at the MGM grand there is a check in counter between baggage claims 1 and 2, so I don’t have to schlep through the airport with my very heavy bags. I recommend buying the round trip shuttle ticket (unless there are two or more of you, then a taxi is better) to the hotel.

Get to the hotel and head to my room and then have all of the various over-charged-handling-fee-inducing packages sent to my room and start un-packing. The bellhop comes up with the boxes and the tin that I ordered. Wow, 4 by 4 foot sheets of metal are big when you actually see it. We try to move it and it’s heavy, but manageable. I tell him to take it back down and I get it on my next trip to the trade show.

Now having read various past postings about the unique labour situation in the Las Vegas Convention Center, I though the same general rules would apply at the Pool tent. So I plan to make a few trips (I’m worried about people seeing the large sheets of metal). Managed to fit a lot of stuff into my large suitcase and hockey bag.

Outside of the lobby is a convenient taxi stand and a guy there who blows a whistle wiggles his fingers at the next cab (from a long line of cabs) and it moves forward about 40 feet to the front of the line. He then asks you where you are going and relays this information to the cabbie. For this force of exertion people are tipping him (yes I’m being sarcastic here). I figure he is calling at least two cabs per minute and I see one’s and five’s being passed to him. He’s got to be pulling down between $100-$200 an hour in tips and this is a Sunday night!

The Pool tent is less than 5 miles from the MGM Grand (2.9 miles according to Google Maps) and the taxi ride was almost $20 including the tip! Did a quick survey of the booth and started to unpack and put things in their places.

Though Pool is in a tent, remember this is Las Vegas. This tent is huge! It holds 500 exhibitors, is about 70 to 100 feet high at the tallest point. At the far end is a DJ platform a circle of about a dozen computers and open space. The tent is nicely air-conditioned.

When back outside to the Pool parking lot to find a cab. No luck. Went across the street to the Hilton (or Marriot, I forgot) to get a cab. The guy in the red jacket blew his whistle and the next cab (an airport type limo, not stretch, but a larger luxury car). Told the red coat dude that I was going to the MGM Grand and the cabbie said that it would be $30! I said no thanks and that I would take another cab. He came down to $25 and I countered with $20 and we had a deal. The red coat dude gives the now familiar looking for a tip look so I gave him a dollar.

On the way back to the hotel, the cabbie asks me if I wanted and dinner or club recommendations and he gives me a few passes to a club in one of the hotels. I remember reading (before I came down) that many of the cabbies, bellhops and just about anyone else gets a kick back or referral fee for the people that go to those clubs/restaurants. What a way to make a few extra bucks!

Back to the hotel and stuff the rest of my material into the two bags and phone down to the front desk to have the metal waiting outside. Get outside and the cab line is about 20+ people deep. The bellhop moves around front, talks to the whistling dude and I immediately get a cab. I help with the metal and I happily give him a tip (not the whistle guy).

Got to Pool, told the cabbie I’d tip him extra if he helps me with the metal sheets. I figure that they weigh about 50lbs each (16 gauge steel is 1/16th of an inch thick) and we carry them in the blazing heat to the booth. I have to get back to the hotel to meet the models for 19:00 and get him to take me back. Give another tip (seeing a theme here??).

The models show up on time and all try on their jeans. I’m pleased that they all fit (I’m worried that they wouldn’t fit and I’d have difficulty finding a tailor less than 24 hours before 7-8 fashion tradeshows were starting). Give them I quick pep talk and tell them to be there at 8:30 am tomorrow (show starts at 9am). Kick them out of the room at 19:30 as I need to get back to Pool asap to finish the setup.

Get outside and the taxi line is even longer. I figure a 15-20 minute wait. I didn’t want to wait so I did what most anyone else would. Went to hail a cab. There are *lots* of cabs in Las Vegas (second to New York I find out later) so I didn’t think it would be a difficult task. Walking out in front of the hotel I see many cabs going by, but it’s difficult to see if anyone is in them as its getting dark. I wave my hands as each one approaches. No luck. I finally get to the corner and still no luck. The light turns red and I see a cab stopped at the light. I approach the cab, tap on the window and ask if she is available. She me a blank stare and asks me if there are any cops around. I return the facial expression with a quizzical look, peer side-to-side and see no police and tell her. She says to get in.

She now explains to me that there is a $300 fine for hailing a cab in Las Vegas and the driver is fined $500! Apparently “they” did a study and found that 85% of crimes committed against cabbies came from the random hails from people on the street. The only way to get a taxi is at a taxi stand (like the hotels and airport) or to phone ahead.

I got back to the Pool tent and finally finished setting things up. Below is a picture of the booth.

Since the concept is not standard retail offering, I wanted the “feeling” translated into the look of the booth. I made my own poetry words; you know the ones of random words that you stick on your fridge. It took about six or seven hours to print, laminate and cut them out, but it was worth it.

The general idea is to explain to people how easy it is to make their own jeans. If they can make a simple poem by selecting random words, then they can easily design a pair of jeans. I even made “poetry words” that described the attributes of the jeans. People would select the individual elements that make up a pair of jeans, just like the individual poetry words.

I took the tins that make up the UDP and created a giant “U” and stuck up fabric and options samples on the wall and basically anything that was metal. I purchased a bunch of rare earth magnets (eBay), which were great at holding up everything.

I realized that I forgot my hooks to hang the jeans! Fortunately for me there is a super Wal-mart that is open 24 hours. So I call Janice (the cabbie that told me about the fines) and I’m in luck as she is just dropping someone off in the area. We get there and I also pickup some Gatorade and other snacks. I’m thinking that snacks at Pool won’t be cheap.

On the way back to the hotel, Janice and I start to talk about Las Vegas and she’s asking me if the people that I came down with are going to be doing any partying. No, I told her and that I was here by myself. She goes on to tell me that if I’m looking to party with someone or want some companionship she can help. She hands me a business card with a phone number and a picture of a naked woman! You can figure what its for, however the interesting thing is that on the back of the card is her referral number!

Get back to the hotel around 23:00 and grab a bite to eat. Sent an email and called the photographer to make sure she’ll be there tomorrow. The last I heard was her confirmation for the gig two weeks ago. Finally get to bed around midnight (03:00 Toronto time).

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  1. Babette says:

    My real job is in Government policy advice and currently I’m working for the taxi regulator on a project to reform the industry. You can’t know how weird it is to have my two things, fashion and taxis cross over somewhere else in the world. Taxi land is an interesting social network maze wherever you are.

  2. Colleen says:

    Daniel, This is great! I can’t wait to read about the response you get from Buyers. You’ve done an amazing job. On a recent trip, I too, was bothered to see the whistle blowers (all men, in this instance) pocketing wads of tips while the cleaning staff (all women, in this instance)pushing supply laden carts down the hall – tipless. I now make an effort to leave a tip in the hotel room envelope for the cleaning staff along with a short note of appreciation. Off my soapbox, now. I’m looking forward to reading more.

  3. Kathleen says:

    A friend of mine cleaned hotel rooms. From her I learned you’re supposed to leave money under the pillow. On a recent trip, Eric and I discovered that room cleaners work on “piece rate” too, being paid per room, about $2 apiece. Tipping a room cleaner well ($2-3 per *day*) is one of the most effective wage supplements one can make to people of decidedly limited means. I like to economize as much as the next person but I try to be generous with room cleaners.

    And btw, I used to drive a cab, made a good living at it too. Tipping cabbies is the inverse of tipping waitresses btw. The higher the fare, the less you can tip. The lower the fare, the more you should tip. People do it the opposite.

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