One of the choices you make as an organizer is whether to buy anything that you want use or give away at the end of the event. Owning nothing means nothing to store or hand over to the next organizer, no guessing whether it’s worth spending money this year to save money or make things easier next year.
In Orlando we’ve slowly accrued stuff. Signs. A banner. 3 coffee containers. 2 laser printers. Assorted storage bins. Misc office supplies. Raffle boxes. Cornhole. A hand truck for the Sams/Costco run. Misc extension cords.
Maybe thats a $1000 worth, not a huge amount, and I think it helps us. The biggest challenge is having a place to store it (or multiple places). Most of us dont have a ton of room for stuff that gets used once a year. This year I bought some 12 gallon storage containers that stack. One for office supplies, one for lanyards, one for extension cords, etc. Labeled, stacked, and clearly different from the containers I use for my personal stuff. Still uses space, but better than before.
Another example of space usage is coolers. Every year we have to round up enough for the event and then make sure they go back to the owner. We could buy some, but they don’t store/stack well. My experiment this year was buying some of these 27 gallon storage containers. Not insulated of course, but they nest nicely, so they don’t use a ton of space. I can use them to transport stuff to the event (speaker bags, laser printer, pre-printed stuff) in the back of my truck and then re-purpose them to hold ice and water and soda. The ice (in Florida) lasted about 3 hours so you may spend a little more on ice for the convenience of using less space at home the rest of the year.
This year we added more extension cords (and I labeled them all, because otherwise it’s hard to figure out what is yours and what belongs to the venue) and power strips. Ordered some HDMI adapters after to have on hand. Ordered some gaffer tape which is very nice for avoiding tripping hazards with extension cords.
I still need to order lanyards. We’re out and it’s cheaper to buy a couple years worth at a time. We could use a table throw or two also, something with our logo to make the check-in tables look a little nice. I’ve been thinking about some line management ropes too, maybe make it a little easier to see where to go when checking in.
We didn’t go out and buy a bunch of stuff at once. We buy something as we see a need and then see how it goes. I think the key for us is to keep it small enough that we can store it at home and not need to rent storage space, though there are definitely times I think about how nice a fully enclosed trailer would be – permanent storage and logo on the side, just hook it up and go. Then I think about cost, registration, flat tires, and I decide that it’s not such a great idea.