We knew the weekend would be an adventure. And here’s the story of how it went. Our drive mapped four and a half hours but the journey took us seven and a half hours with four stops. We’ll blame the bladder of a prego mom and the excitable toddlers in the backseat, and the fact that we were towing a trailer loaded with two tons of rock.  The ride was incident free and fun to talk about the adventure we had ahead of us. By the time we were settled in our hotel room and into bed the clock was nearing midnight. Our girls were exhausted from an exciting ride to a new and unfamiliar place, and they had no problem falling asleep to get as much rest possible before our big day at the Florida Frag Swap in Lakeland.

The Set Up

Saturday morning started early and Jonathan headed promptly to the convention hall to begin setup.  He strategically backed the trailer and truck up to the loading door to begin hauling barrels of rock and products into the convention hall.  I stayed behind at the hotel with our girls to allow them time to eat while I readied everyone and made sure we had all necessary supplies for a long day ahead (snacks, toddler entertainment, and coffee for two tired parents) . We were unsure if I’d have the time to bring them back for a midday nap as our youngest is still a skilled napper.  Little did we know the whirlwind of the day ahead.

I managed to survive continental breakfast with the help of a lovely couple seated near us in the crowded dining hall.  After a few flops of pancakes and bagels onto the floor while I had returned to the buffet area to finally make myself a plate of food, I had the help of a sweet woman who offered to grab new pancakes to replace the ones that ended up on the floor.  We chatted about children and how fun they are, and a little about the show doors opening within just two hours. After it appeared all bellies were full, the girls and I walked the short walk to the convention center to help get the Pristine Rock booth ready.

When we reached him, Jonathan had done a great job of unloading four full barrels of limestone rock, and built a shelving unit to place additional product for customers to see everything we brought with us.  After I set the girls up with games and snacks (yes, snacks already, they’re growing girls) I began unboxing products to place on the front table with signage I had prepared to display our show promotions. Somehow we got the whole booth ready just before the doors were opened and the crowd (890 attendees in total by the end of the day) began flowing in.

The Show Begins

Within the first hour we had our first few sales and a lot of passersby with questions about our products.  People were asking where we get the rock, if the rock is real, how can they purchase a specific weight and get it to their car today, if we will ship, what are the various prices are for drilled Frag Rocks and Frag Ledges (our top sellers of the day), if they can have magnets attached, and if they can have custom UV colors added today.  Yes, yes, and yes! Jonathan and I were overwhelmed and thrilled at the interest in all of our Pristine Rock products. The next several hours were merely a whirlwind of one sale after another, great conversations with customers, and connecting with people. Our girls, for being two and three years old, did a fantastic job at behaving and helping in their own little ways.  The only time they had to step away from the booth was on bathroom trips, which were short snips of time because the crowd around our table was constant.

Jonathan spent a lot of the day at the scale helping customers assemble their dream ‘scape from our Ancient Reef rock, Ancient Reef cuts, and Self ‘Scape rock, which were all in separate barrels ready for customers to pick out pieces and weigh on the scale.  We had several customers purchase ‘scapes we brought to the show built and ready to be placed in a box and taken home. And one customer who loved our rock products so much that he came back for a second purchase shortly before he won the afternoon raffle ‘scape.  Jonathan also managed to do some custom work behind the booth, adhering magnets to ledges customers picked out, and applying UV material as custom requests were made. We are so appreciative of our customers’ patience and willingness to hang around just a little bit longer while those custom purchases dried and set.

The crowd started to dwindle around the time the raffle started, and Jonathan and I were able to breathe, finally grab a quick bite to eat while still packaging up orders and cleaning up the tables and booth from the whirlwind of the earlier hours.  Our girls had exhausted all of their energy and forced me into a restful state sitting in one chair with a sleeping two year old on my lap, and a sleeping three year old stretched in the chair next to me. Shortly after they woke up I packed them up and we made the short (although exhausting) walk back to our hotel room.  Jonathan stayed behind to pack up our booth as the show was nearing the final minutes, and shop a little for himself as he had definitely earned a few new corals for his tank. After the two hours it took him to load back up (although a lighter load having sold over 500 pounds of rock), he came back to the hotel room to find us eating dinner and ready for sleep.  We spent some time talking about the day and how overwhelming exciting it was, and after a couple of high fives for a job well done, we called it a night to rest up for our exciting family day to come.

Our Family Day

Jonathan and I are parents before any other job title we have and we knew we had to make our weekend trip fun for our kids, too, so we planned a slow paced day at Dinosaur World which was only a 20 minute drive from where we were staying.  On Sunday morning as we left the hotel our girls could not stop talking about how excited they were to see dinosaurs. We dug for dinosaur bones, we sifted pretty “rocks” out of sand, and learned a little about the job of paleontologists. After a few hours our girls were tired but joyful, and fell asleep within minutes of our drive, souvenirs in hand.  The day was also nice for Jonathan and I to decompress, put work aside for a little while, and simply enjoy our time as a family after a long hard-working day at the Lakeland show.

The Future

The Pristine Rock family is extremely thankful for every interaction we had during the Florida Frag Swap, with customers, attendees, vendors, and anyone who stopped for a moment to see us during the hustle.  We look forward to seeing customer pictures and videos of the rock they purchased in their tanks and hearing how happy they are with their new ‘scapes. We are thrilled to be invited back as a vendor at the Florida Frag Swap in Weston and will be rockin’ and rollin’ with more experience, products, and aquarium rock for all who want Pristine Rock in their tanks.