Writing from New Orleans! A city I always wanted to visit. Darren and I are here for a conference with one of our wholesalers. Last year was San Diego and next year is Miami Beach.
The city still has many signs of destruction from Katrina, but the French Quarter where we are was not flooded. Bourbon Street is everything you would expect. We went out last night for a quick stroll about 11pm after we flew in and the street was packed on a week night. Imagine Robson Street, no cars, packed full of people all jumping from bar to jazz club to resturant. You don't really stay in one spot too long, since you take your drink with you. I have traveled a fair amount, and there is nothing like it I have ever seen. The culture, history and archatecture make for a memorable visit, and the locals are all very excited to see the conventions come back to town.
I spoke to an owner of an art shop, and he told me that this was the first year the conventions have started to come back, even though Katrina was in 2005. Seems the planners of big conventions book up to 5 years in advance, so for a few years New Orleans was off the booking circuit, so to speak, and it took several years before planners could slot the city back into rotation.
The art shop owner also told me about how his house was 7 houses from one of the levee breaks. The house was one block OVER and the houses directly in front of the break were washed away clear to the foundation. His house was under 15 feet of water at the height of the flood, and when he finally came back home, his red pickup truck was on top of his neighbor's roof. He said he looks at life now as just a gift every day. Here is a cool original painting I bought in his shop.
Our industry trade show was the main reason for the visit, and this year was again full of new and interesting products. The number one most interesting and progressive office supply item as voted by industry insiders and trade magazines was, in fact, not your traditional office supply item. In the number one spot was the KEURIG Coffee System. I'm glad to see the industry is embracing that office supplies go far beyond pens and pencils. At Costless Express, we have always mixed coffee and office supplies in our offering. Hmmmmm, seems we are on to something!