Friday, June 14, 2024

Published on Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Inspector Gadget Redux

Store and Ship programTo say it's been busy the last few months at Prairie is an understatement. During the show season, Prairie is an “all hands on deck” team. My hands have been on deck more this January and February than I can remember.


Our Store and Ship clients seem to be on heavier and tighter show schedules this year and I have found myself pitching in on display inspections. Each display is set-up and inspected after each show/event to make sure all is good for the next use.


We see display properties come back to our dock in a variety of conditions, from okay to missing or broken parts. Graphics usually need to be cleaned or steamed and refolded, depending on if they are rollable panels or fabric. The trade show floor is probably one of the dustiest and dirtiest places around. That dust and dirt usually ends up on your display and graphics and in your cases.


Tabletop displayI immediately jumped in on properties that include the Nomadic Instand. I know them well, having set them up hundreds, if not thousands, of times over the course of my career.


After going through a few curved walls, flat walls and tabletops, I came to the conclusion that the Nomadic Instand, while around since the late 1970s, is still, in my opinion, the easiest display system to use. Not just because it is a pop-up style display system (there are dozens of cheap knockoffs out there), but because it is a self-locking Nomadic Instand pop-up style display, invented, produced and assembled in the USA.


There are three basic components: the frame, the mounting system and the graphics - add one more if you want lighting. All components fit into one or two cases, depending on the client preference.


10ft Instand displayThere are no tools, you don’t need a ladder or stool (the RollOne case lid doubles as a stepstool if you really feel it is needed) and it should take a single person less than 20 minutes to set-up. And that’s taking your time.


The frames in some of the displays I was inspecting are a dozen or more years old, and used scores of times. Because these customers have been relying on Prairie to store and maintain their displays, inspecting them after each use, we can address problems and make any needed adjustments. The frame is still backed by a No Questions Asked Warranty. If anything is broken, we send it to the manufacturer for repairs.


It’s really quite a bit of fun to go through these properties. A nice change from pouring through emails, orders and the endless details of the trade show world.


Instand Owner's GuideWhen it comes to graphics for some of these frames, clients have updated them to highlight new products and services, or accommodate changes in designs, copy and logos. Prairie has always used the most durable materials and up-to-date processes over the years (26 of them and still counting). The Instand display frame has stood the test of time, and I am particularly proud of the work we have done with it in support of our customer’s programs.


For anyone who owns and uses the Nomadic Instand in their exhibit program, they know what a tremendous investment it was and still is.


There have been some new types of products that have come along (and mostly gone), but whether it was just a cheaper version of the Instand concept, an aluminum frame system, pillowcase style or silicone-edged graphic application, I have truly not seen anything as quick, easy, and most of all, impactful. Perhaps some of the new backlighting solutions will give it a go for being just as full of “wow”, but still not as easy to ship, set-up and maintain. Believe it or not, someone actually introduced an inflatable style display. That never really gained any air.


If you’re starting to look at portable and modular solutions for your 10’ and 20’ inline applications, take a look at the Instand again. Not a lot of bells and whistles, just exceptional manufacturing, an easy process for set-up and take down, a great resource in Prairie to help maintain it all, and keep your exhibit program running like a well-oiled machine.


30ft trade show displayJust to review, here are some true facts about the Nomadic Instand:


-no tools required

-one person set-up

-no ladders required

-ships UPS or Federal Express

-10’ section is under 80 pounds, keeps material handling costs at a minimum

-inspect after each event and it will last for years


Like we’ve always said, seeing is believing. Stop by our offices in Elmhurst and we’ll reintroduce you to the Instand. Call or email first, to let us know when you’ll be stopping by, please. I might be in back setting up some displays and having some fun.


Steve Moskal

Inspector Gadget


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Steve Moskal
Steve Moskal

Steve Moskal

Other posts by Steve Moskal
Contact author Full biography

Full biography

Steve’s journey in the trade show and event world started in 1983 with one of the original Nomadic Display sales organizations in North America. In 1994, he co-founded Prairie Display/Chicago.

Steve was an Allied Board Member of TSEA (Trade Show Exhibitors Association) from 2007 to 2011 and recipient of the TSEA President’s Award in 2009. He also served as Financial Chair of the Midwest Exhibit and Event Professionals (formerly the Chicago chapter of TSEA) and as a commissioner with the Elmhurst Economic Development Commission from 2011 to 2016. Currently he is Vice President of Education for the Addison/Elmhurst, IL Toastmasters Club.

When not working with customers and co-workers at Prairie, you can find him trying to spend more time biking and pursuing other creative endeavors. Steve lives in Oak Brook, IL with his beautiful and equally understanding wife of 26 years, Shelley.

Steve is a graduate of Northern Illinois University, with a B.A. in Journalism and a Fine Arts minor.


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