April 18, 2024 7:11 PM
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The Woman who Brought Mannequins to Las Vegas Tradeshows

by Thea Engst, Exhibit City News

In 2004, Alison Wainwright was the person to call when you needed a unique item for your event booth. “I guess I’m known for being very resourceful,” she told me. “I got this reputation and people were calling me for odd things like table clothes. One day someone called and said, ‘My customer will do anything for a mannequin.’ I realized there weren’t any mannequin vendors.” Being the resourceful person she was, Alison started buying and renting mannequins.

Las Vegas Mannequins started in 2004 in Alison’s spare bedroom. “I didn’t start making money off the mannequins for at least three years,” she said. Today, she employees between four and twenty-five people depending on the seasonal needs. They offer mannequin rentals, but also rack and glass displays, stanchions—even steamers—amongst other things. Alison’s team hand-delivers items and will even help with added on rentals as needed. “People forget things or want additional things, so sometimes we run back and forth during the show,” she said. “I love customer service.”

Alison’s days start at home, answering calls, messages, and emails and, putting out small fires. “I’m lucky that I don’t need to be the one opening the door anymore,” Alison noted. After catching up on her office work, Alison heads to her office. “I make sure everything is going well,” she said. And after that, it’s time to relax, right?

Wrong. Alison recently opened a bar—a poetic choice for someone whose career started as a bartender. Voodoo Brewing Company hosts a rotating cast of local food vendors beside Voodoo beer. That means that after spending her days running Las Vegas Mannequins, Alison swings by her bar to check in on things and make sure everything is running smoothly. “I’m taking my event background and trying to bring that to the bar,” she said.

After all that, Alison must be ready to slow down, right? Wrong again. Alison is excited for more growth in the future. “You go to networking events and people kind of do things the same but a little different,” she told me. “I’m sure there’s still something to do that nobody’s thought of yet.” I had to ask, would she expand if that idea was hers? “You have to evolve,” she answered without hesitation. “If I was just renting one mannequin I wouldn’t be where I am today. New products, new ways of doing things—if you don’t evolve, you’re not going to grow.”

While Alison shows no sign of sticking to one rental item, she did say something that really stuck with me about why she loves working with mannequins especially.  “With mannequins,” she said, “you can kind of do whatever you dream up.” Much like Alison’s career, her mannequins can be anything they need to be. From Power Rangers to hoodie models and everywhere in between—Las Vegas Mannequins and the woman behind it all, reminds us to be whatever we can dream up.

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