We were only able to visit for one day, so we couldn’t go with Kris’ tip to visit through the vendor hall on one day and then shop the next day, if it is possible.
Instead, with cell phones in hand (so we could find each other later), we each scouted out the whole vendor hall in the morning. We talked to vendors and viewed products. If we wanted to return to any vendor, we circled their name in the convention booklet and wrote a note next to it. (This was especially nice, since it made it easier to find the vendors again, since their booth was numbered in the booklet.)
If any vendor tried to (gently) pressure us to buy right then, it was easy to say that we were only buying in the afternoon. Everyone accepted that answer with a smile and would often just say, “I hope we see you again this afternoon!” And then I was able to walk away, guilt free. (This also saved me money, because I wanted to spend more than $500 between two programs within about ten minutes of walking in the vendor hall. I didn’t actually buy either of these things, in the end.)
Another benefit of looking through the whole vendor hall before buying is that you sometimes find the same things over and over, but with various prices. We both use the same math curriculum, and found the prices on workbooks varied by $5 each. With two workbooks per year, that would mean a $20 difference for my family (based on the number of kids doing math right now). In my friend’s family though, that’s $40!
Yet another example of this happened when I was able to buy Rosetta Stone software for about $40 less when I bought it through a company that has a complete curriculum (on their special price for the convention) rather than to have bought it directly from Rosetta Stone at their convention price. That definitely was worth walking a few aisles over for!
After a trip through the whole vendor hall, my friend and I found a place to eat lunch. Throughout lunch, we compared notes and talked through some of the things that we had looked at. Talking to her saved me quite a bit of money, because there was a math program that I was very close to buying. Instead, I decided that I just needed to buy more manipulatives to use with our current program.
If you are able to take a friend with you that also homeschools and knows your family well enough, it is great to talk through what you are considering buying.
I am so thankful for my friend’s help throughout the convention, as well as Kris’ fabulous tips! I know that it helped me to leave spending a lot less than I might have otherwise.
What are your favorite tips and ideas for shopping at the vendor hall of a homeschool convention?
When Angie isn’t busy looking over receipts from the homeschool convention and thinking, “Wow — Rosetta Stone is expensive!”, she can be found writing at Many Little Blessings.
photo by Old Shoe Woman
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