Chicago Pen Show - The Newbie File, #2

By Jennifer Houghton

You’ve done all of your pre-event research and you are finally onsite for the Chicago Pen Show. Take a deep breath and prepare to find yourself surrounded by lots of other people with ink stains on their hands. How exciting!

What To Wear

Illinois has an indoor mask mandate in place at the time of this writing, so be sure that you have a comfortable mask. And consider other items to stay comfortable: good walking shoes, comfy clothes, and even a fishing vest. Yes, you heard me, a fishing vest. One of the vendors at the Sidewalk Sale told me that fishing vests have lots of places you can hold pens. So, keep count of the number of fishing vests you see. We want a final tally.

What To Bring

Hopefully you have come to the show with a fellow pen geek. I have a pen twin. He and I found ourselves lusting after the latest Pineider creations and crushing on Dante Del Vecchio. We like almost all of the same brands and styles (and have some strong opinions on what we don’t like and why). The only difference is that he is a consistent fine or extra-fine nib writer and I like a good medium to bold nib.

If you have a friend like this, bring them and then split up. You can take in more of the show faster, especially if you are after specific items.

If you have lots of time to wander, take in the whole area first.  Look over the specific tables and make note of which places you want to go back to. Then you can spend significant amounts of time at your preferred vendors, like Atlas!

Make sure your predetermined budget is seared into your brain. Consider bringing only the amount of cash you want to spend to eliminate any passion driven credit card purchases. Or, get a preloaded debit card if you like the feel of swiping plastic.

Final Details

Regret is a beast, so make sure you get to the places of importance first. Get a map, make a map, use the force, just get to those drool-worthy pens pronto.

Bring your standby paper so you get consistent results for each pen or ink you try out. Plus, bonus! You are making a record of your pen show adventure. Like a personalized souvenir. Don’t forget to get your Atlas Instagram superstar, Brendan’s, autograph.

Finally, two very important considerations to factor in. Everyone will get hungry at the same time, so plan your food options and schedule to avoid long lines. And most importantly, this may be a great opportunity to see one of a kind products, but it is also a social event. If you want to experience stories, analysis, and potentially make some new pen friends, consider working in some after hours time. Bloggers, vendors, and others will be hanging out. Take advantage of the “behind the scenes” moments this event can offer you.

See you there!


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