The Day I Discovered Bamboo Banner Stands in Shanghai August 26 2016
Back in 2010, my world seemed to be converging on Asia, once again. We had just landed another booth design project for the US Forest Service, this time in Seoul, Korea. My dreams of being an international exhibition designer were coming to fruition. The one in Argentina was not just a fluke.
So I go to bro David Grove's house for a barbecue in the rustic wine country in Yamhil County, Oregon. A surprise visitor is Brian Clem, a State Representative, and our old buddy from college who talked me out of running for student body president back in 1992 (he was so better organized than me, I didn't have a chance). Brian tells me he's heading to Shanghai for the World Expo to represent the State of Oregon, and bring along business owners to engage in business opportunities for Oregon products. The dates were close to my trip in Korea. Both of our eyes light up, and we say "Roooooad Triiiiip". My brain is further clicking into high gear, and I text another old OSU bro, Blake Showalter, who owns nightclubs in Japan. Close enough to Shanghai, I'm thinking. Turns out Blake's buddy, a professional MMA fighter from Bulgarian, no less, lives in Shanghai, and owns a restaurant. So the Asian road trip starts to take flight. Blake adds fuel to the fire by adding Tim Griffiths, a dashing Japanese speaking attorney with flowing blond hair from Australia to the mix. He was a guy who bartended and dragon slayed with us in our old days in Japan.
It's always a good idea to do some booth design business deals when in a foreign country so I followed up with a cool Shanghai-ese portable display maker that specialized in bamboo. He had this cool bamboo banner material I wanted to buy and sell in the US. I made plans to tour his facilities, lunch and review his products.
So after absolutely killing it on the exhibit design for the USA in Seoul I fly to Shanghai, and Evan (a dead ringer for Kojak, but built like a brick house) has already lined us up with a fat condo overlooking the Yangtzee River. Blake has just finished doing a commercial for Toyota, basically playing himself, some kind of extra tall Japanese gangster with GQ looks. He had another casting call that week in Japan but said fuck it - I'm not missing out on this trip on the CHANCE I may get another gig.
Within hours we are partying on a rooftop overlooking the Yangtze River. The next day, hungover to the gills, we are getting VIP access through our politician friend to World Pavilions. Some incredible exhibit designs. Favorites were Norway and Korea. Honorable mention designs were Germany, Denmark, Sweden. Didn't get to see all. The big ones that I thought sucked were US and China.
The next day I met with the bamboo guy. It was nutty - as if Boothster had been inverted to the other side of the world, and instead of goofy American hipsters, it was all goofy Chinese hipsters. Instead of Walnut plywood, they were using bamboo plywood. I looked around and clearly, no pandas were being sacrificed, and people seemed to be well fed and gainfully employed. The owner had the same commitment to sustainability as I had, and shared in my vision for eco friendly, green trade show booths and displays. We had a great meal with his family, and I ordered a few pallets of bamboo banner material. And out of the corner of my eye noticed the Bamboo Lite Vertical Banner Stand, and the rest is history. It's been our #2 seller for 6 years. Here are some pictures of it. Click on the page if you want to buy yours today. $299 a pop. Quite a deal, and best of all your organization will look good in it.