On Friday, November 8th I hit up the Babytime Show at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre with my Mom. Having been to numerous bridal shows (and I mean numerous… about 7 years worth…) I thought it would be the same old *stuff the free bag with flyers, catalogues, and the occasional piece of candy with offbeat marketing material like a rubber coaster or flashlight keychain* that I was used to.
Boy, was I wrong! (P.S., something I just noticed: if I said “Girl, was I wrong!” I would sound so much sassier.)
Right away, the vibe was so different – so open and accepting. I plunked my Mom into the lineup for the “Biggest Baby Shower Ever” hosted by Babies R Us, and I went to line up for the tickets. I had the option of buying them online weeks prior at a discounted price, but I’m so glad I didn’t.
I had two $2 off admission coupons from Thyme Maternity, and offered them to the mother behind me in line. Turns out, she didn’t have a coupon so she thanked me, and we struck up a conversation about her almost 1-year-old son bopping around in his Britax B-Ready stroller. Turns out this would be her third Babytime show, so as a first time attendee, I was curious to find out what was in store. I told her that the main reason for me going to the show was because I read somewhere that there would be a deal on the stroller I wanted – the Baby Jogger City Select.
A woman behind us waiting to get tickets for her daughter who is due in December, joined in and said that was the stroller they were looking at as well. It turned into a warm circle of advice, planning, and sharing! I loved it! I didn’t even have my tickets yet and I already learned so much.
As soon as we purchased our tickets, we returned to the Baby Shower line and got wristbands for the 11am shower. They only let in 100 people in at a time, without guests (sorry Mom!), and a new group comes in every hour. I’m glad we were able to get in for the first time slot, which meant I had about 45 minutes to do a “preliminary lap” around the exhibit floor (with deals *everywhere* it would be poor planning not to shop around first!) Doing a preliminary lap is also a good excuse to tell eager, pressuring, salespersons in order not to buy into their product, and then just don’t make eye contact next time you pass by their booth. Such is the story I went with for the guy at the Today’s Parent booth. They had great gifts with a subscription purchase which, if I read magazines, would be an awesome deal. Unfortunately for them, I stick to my online blogs and websites, and the magazines would just end up in a box somewhere in my basement. Thus, the lie. Well, not a lie. I was doing a prelim lap, I just had no intention on going back to see them. 🙂 I went East and spent some time at the www.Snugglebugz.ca mega booth, quickly eyeing a 2/$20 promotion on cutesy wootsy muslin swaddling blankets. Aack!
It’s Baby Shower Time!!!
I caught up with the mother I met in the ticket line, and we went into together. Right away they had various games where if you were the winner, you were entered into a draw for a prize. The first one was something along the lines of “Biggest Bump Wins!” I didn’t bother entering because I knew my little 19 week belly didn’t stand a chance against some of the moms that looked like they were ready to give birth. Other games were: Guess How Many Jelly Beans Are In The Jar, Change The Diaper, Mismatched Socks, Bottle Bowling and Guess The Price. Make-up artists and massage therapy students were on hand to give makeovers and massages, and they had a rep from Babies R Us promoting some of their new products.
My favorite part, however – was the Crave Bar! They served pickles, drumstick ice cream, cupcakes, and “bumptinis” with cranberry juice. There was never really a crowd around it, so you could pretty much nash whenever you wanted to. An extra bumptini really came in handy when I swallowed wrong and accidentally started choking on one of the peanuts on the drumstick ice cream. Oops.
At the end, they drew all the names for the prizes: products and giant gift baskets. They were really valuable prizes, so I was a little jealous of some of the moms and kind of wished that my bump was extra huge. But just when I thought I would walk away empty handed, they told us all to exit in an orderly fashion so that they could “hand out the goodie bags.”
Ooooh! Goody bags! And these were GOODY BAGS. One brown, 5-piece diaper bag from Lux, Playtex bottle, nursing pads, stain remover, Palmers skin therapy oil, Preggo Pop Drop, flashlight keychain (hah!), and a few other samples. This bag alone was well worth the price of admission. Everyone left the shower with smiles on their faces, looking into their new diaper bags like excited children after a particularly successful trick-or-treat haul. I was even able to sneak out a cupcake for my Mom, who was waiting patiently guarding my belongings and playing sudoku.
After some strategic weight distribution of all the things we had accumulated thus far, we headed back to the trade show floor and enjoyed many more samples, draws and giveaways. The helpful dames at Snugglebugz printed out out name, email and address labels for your convenience, while simultaneously entering you in their draw for a $500 gift card.
Aside from all the freebies, the show was a great place to buy big ticket items, as many of the vendors obviously had show specials. I bought my Baby Jogger City Select stroller with second seat for $599 (amazing since it works out to me getting the $200 second seat for only $30!) as well as my I’coo Panama Playard for $100 off the MSRP. Funky Fluff gave me a free set of Stay-Dry diaper liners when I bought a wet-bag, and Palmer’s gave me samples of their Tummy Butter and more Skin Therapy oil after I bought a bottle of their Itchy Skin Oil (it’s been working so far!).
Will I go to the show again? Absolutely! There is a Spring show in April, but since I’m due on April 5th, we’ll see what kind of shape I’m in to go traipsing around a trade show. It was so worth the $14 I paid, as a first time mom – I learned so much and discovered new products I can look for if or when I eventually have the need for them.
And yes, I did get the cutesy wootsy swaddling blankets. I couldn’t resist.