Seven Tips for Exhibit Hall Shoppers

by Susan K. Stewart

Some homeschoolers attend CHEA Conventions solely to buy curriculum in the Exhibit Hall. The Exhibit Hall can daze even a veteran convention-goer. There are so many bright and shiny new items for sale every year. So it is necessary to enter with a battle plan.

  1. A shopping list is an absolute must.
    Know in advance what you need to purchase for the upcoming year. Usually the major publishers and sellers return each year. By using last year’s catalogs, you can plan your purchases and their cost (add about 10 percent to last year’s prices).
  2. Get advice from experts.
    Are you new to homeschooling? Get some advice before you go shopping. Read Cathy’s Duffy’s 100 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum Before the Convention, talk to someone who uses the material you have in mind. Ask difficult questions about it. Then ponder before making your decision.
  3. Attend exhibitor workshops.
    At the CHEA Convention, exhibitors have workshops to talk about their materials. This is a good way to become acquainted with new materials or something that looks interesting. You will have the opportunity to ask questions that pertain to your homeschool.
  4. Talk to the vendors.
    As you spend time with the exhibitor, remember that many of these vendors are small, family-run businesses that make sacrifices to bring their products to you. Do talk to vendors; learn from their experiences and wisdom. If you decide to purchase a product they offer, do so from them at the Convention as a way of thanking them for taking time to answer your questions. The exhibitors also support CHEA by their presences–without them there would be no CHEA Conventions.
  5. Take only cash into the Exhibit Hall.
    Because you are making your shopping list at home, you can figure your total and know how much to bring with you. Of course it’s okay, if you can afford it, to plan a little extra for an impulse purchase.
  6. Limit number of checks.
    An alternative, if you don’t like to carry cash, is to bring only the number of checks you’ll need for the purchases you have planned. If you plan to buy from two exhibitors, bring two checks. However if this is your choice, don’t bring cash with you.
  7. Remember free shipping offers.
    If you have selected your purchases ahead of time, this can be a great savings. But if you are considering an item that is not on your pre-planned list, the cost of later shipping, after some time to think, may be cheaper than a book that will sit on the shelf until a used curriculum exchange next year.

By using some of the same shopping techniques you use at the grocery store, purchasing materials at the Convention’s exhibit hall can be a real plus.
List of Exhibitors
Exhibitor Workshops
General Information for the 34th Annual CHEA Convention July 13-15, 2017


Copyright 2012. Used by permission of the author.

Susan and her husband Bob began homeschooling their three children in 1981, graduating all three from high school at home. Susan speaks and writes on homeschooling for CHEA as well as for other organizations and publications. Susan is also the author of Science in the Kitchen: Fearless Science at Home for All Ages and Preschool: At What Cost?. You may contact Susan at susan@practicalinspirations.com.

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