I'm a vendor at a number of different shows throughout the year. I sell finished jewelry at some shows, and I sell kits and tutorials of my designs at other shows. One thing I have struggled with throughout the years is how to present my wares so it's easy for the customer to see what I have that might interest them. I started out with a beautiful dark purple tablecloth but have recently changed to white to increase visibility. I bought a few small gridwall displays to better utilize vertical space and to increase visibility.
Before my last show (the Art Glass and Bead Show in Madison, Wisconsin) at the end of March, I tried out something new to increase visibility: LED rechargeable lights. I thought I was fine without lights because there technically should be enough light to see at any venue I vend at, but a friend of mine uses lights and says it really helps. She recommended I try it, too.
When I went searching on Amazon (because Amazon has everything), I looked into rechargeable LED lights. The main reason was that I didn't want cords. I'm fairly clumsy and have gotten caught in a bag handle one too many times. I don't need something else to trip over when I'm behind my table. Another very important reason is that some shows charge extra for electricity. So I'll be paying more for increasing my chances of needing stitches? No thank you!
I found what seemed to be a suitable light for a decent price:
I purchased the white one (if you view the item there's an option for choosing the color) and padded the order with a DVD and a book to qualify for the free shipping.
The package came pretty quick, and I plugged the light in for a few hours to charge. I took it to a beading gathering and asked the girls what they thought. They all agreed it would work fine and that I should get four more to cover the whole table. I did that, and my table at the Art Glass and Bead Show went from this:
Yes, it's very subtle. Let's take a closer look at one section of the table side-by-side:
It's not very clear. Sorry about that. You can easily see the lights on the top of the displays, but there's also one lighting the trays sitting on the table.
At first, I didn't think the lights were helpful, but I had so many people ask me about them that I thought I should write about them.
Here's a closer look at one of the lights:
Each head has two LED light bulbs:
I was going to take a picture with one of the lights turned on in this position, but it was just too blinding. You're welcome.
For each head you click the button at the top once for the first light bulb to come on, again for the second light bulb, and again to turn them both off. So the amount of light is quite variable based on what you need: one bulb - reading in bed in the dark, two bulbs in one head - inspecting a difficult knot in your beading thread, one bulb in each head - you and your husband reading separate books while cuddling in the dark... you get the idea.
Here's the light with all four light bulbs turned on:
As you can see a few pictures up, the necks on each of the lights are extremely flexible. We were bending them this way and that, and my husband even clipped the light to the back of his collar and made antennas out of the lights. He refused to let me take a picture of that. What a party pooper.
Here's another look with the lights spread apart:
When the lights are bent down close to the object you're trying to illuminate they get really bright.
One thing I really like about these lights is that the light is really focused. I'm sensitive to bright lights, especially with my peripheral vision, but I haven't had any problems with these. The necks are so flexible that if any light is peeking out I can bend the head down just a little more, and that takes care of it.
The base is weighted enough to sit on the table as shown, but it also has a nice clip:
The non-slip clip opens to almost 2" wide and has a little pivoting thing to help it grasp onto thinner surfaces. We had them clipped to the gridwall displays and another thin display and didn't have any problems with a light sagging or falling off.
Each light comes with a USB cord:
Before I bought the first light, I read a lot of reviews on Amazon. One thing that people complained about was the proprietary plug (the end that goes into the light). They said that the plug should be a standard USB plug so any cable can be used. I don't think it's a big deal. I keep all the cords for all the lights together in one of the boxes the lights came in (I'm storing the lights in a bag so I don't have to fold each of them down to fit back in the box), so I'm only screwed if I lose that box. I'm keeping it with all my business admin stuff (cash box, receipts, business cards...), and if that bag gets lost, I'm more screwed than losing a few charging cables.
The reviews also stated that the plug doesn't go all the way in. That is true. It sticks out by a few millimeters. It still charges, so that's not a big deal, either.
What I would really like is a charging light. If it's not completely charged, the light is red. Once a full charge has been reached, the charging light either turns off or turns green. That would be nifty. I couldn't find anything that says how long you need to charge the light, just "Fully Charged For Four Hours." I don't know if that means it keeps a full charge for four hours or it is fully charged in four hours. To play it safe, I typically charge the lights at least four hours. I figure it can't hurt to overcharge them.
The first day of the show was seven hours long, so I tested one of the lights for seven hours. I turned on the lights right at 10:00, and they were still going at 5:00. They were dimmer, but they weren't too dim to be of help. I was very happy with the results of my test. I would have had to rotate lights throughout the day or be more judicious with how many bulbs were turned on if they ended up dimming faster. I'm glad I don't have to worry about that. I just need to make sure I remember to charge the lights before a show and at night for multi-day shows.
Speaking of charging... what's with that USB plug? It doesn't come with an adapter, so you either have to plug it into your computer or use one of these:
The square adapters are easily available, even if you don't have a phone or device that comes with one. We scrounged up a few of them, so in the hotel after the first night of the show we played "Rotating Devices." The first part of the night the lights were charging: two of them plugged into Steve's computer and three of them in various outlets. When we were ready to go to bed, the lights were put away, and the phones and my iPad got plugged in.
Having five lights, I think it would be nice to have a dedicated power strip where they can all be plugged in. When the lights are charged, the cords can be wrapped around the strip for storage. But I'd need five of those square adapters. I just did a quick search on Amazon, and lookie what I found:
That's too cool. I've just added it to my wishlist. This USB charger has 4.5 stars out of over 3,000 reviews, so I'm sure it's a good product.
Let's go back to the hotel, shall we? The first shift of devices (the lights) have been charging all evening, and we got them all put away to go back to the show the next day. I plugged my iPad in one of the outlets by the sink, and it wasn't charging. I thought it was just the way the cable was stretched so the Pad could sit on a chair. I plugged it in somewhere else and plugged my phone in. I didn't think about it or check it and just went to sleep. I was pretty tired and loopy after a very busy day.
In the morning, I discovered that my phone wasn't charged. *$!%! (Insert your favorite swear word there - I won't tell you what I actually said.) Not only was my phone (which I needed to process credit card sales) not charged, that meant that at least one of the lights wasn't charged, either. We determined that neither of the outlets were working, so I had two lights not charged. (Repeat swear word, please.)
It was easy enough to determine which lights weren't charged, so those got plugged into Steve's computer, and my phone got plugged into a different outlet while we got ready and had breakfast (about an hour). I crossed my fingers that everything would be charged enough. Steve marked the lights with twist ties so we could put them in less critical areas and so we could keep an eye on them.
The second day of the show was only six hours, and they lasted just fine. There was some dimming on all the lights, but, again, it wasn't enough to be irritating. Whew!
The one good thing about this whole charging fiasco was that I can show you a comparison:
The light on the left is fully charged, and the one on the right is one of the "twist-tie" lights after being on at the show for six hours. (In case you're wondering, the necklace is the one I talked about in this blog post.) You can tell that there's considerable dimming, but it does still give some illumination.
For a more stark comparison let's turn off the lights:
All in all, I'm very happy with the Ipow rechargeable LED lights. They have a variety of uses outside of craft and bead shows, including reading, putting on a music stand, and giving a little extra light when beading or crafting. At less than $15 (as of this writing), they're a good value, too.
Check them out! Here's that link again so you don't have to scroll all the way up there to get it:
Thanks for reading all the way through this! I tend to write a lot when I'm excited about something. If you get one (or five) of these lights for your shows, let me know how it goes in the comments of this post or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I don't know if I can completely give credit to the lights, but I had my best show this year at the Art Glass and Bead Show, but I'm sure they helped. I can't wait until next year's Show - April 23-24, 2016 - mark your calendars!