Monday, February 3, 2014

Continuing Thoughts on Shows


I hate it when I make a mistake and know I am making it when I do it. I violated my own 300 mile rule and I did it twice. Just call me stupid.  In 4 weekends there were 5 shows in Southern California and Arizona.  First in the line was Yuma and Tucson on the same weekend and then Ontario’s Road to California and then two shows in Phoenix on successive weekends.  All these shows are too close together in time and distance. Knowing better Quilter’s Rule attended the Tucson Guild Show, Road to California, and the Rusty Barn show.  Yes, we saw different customers at each show and yes we saw the same customers at each show. 

The Phoenix Metro area is home to 2/3 of the State of Arizona’s population. At 4.2 million it is about half the size of the Chicago Metro area.  We all remember Chicago last year with too many shows. 

Road to California added a tent of new vendors.  There was a bit of grumbling and some vendors I am sure did not do well.  Quilter’s Rule was able to hold its own this year.  Many of the new vendors were related to the long arm segment of our industry and attracted many customers interested in the segment.  We can serve that segment very well and had no competition.  Thus we were able to preserve our sales.

We had no knowledge of what to expect at Tucson, but it is a small community.  Quilter’s Rule did not do particularly well and we will probably not try to return until something changes. The guild does a nice job, just not enough people spending money. 

The Rusty Barn in Phoenix is a quandary.  Last year we had a record year in Phoenix.  This year traffic was good but the sales were not.  There is only one way I would explain the sales.  The local people want to attend both shows and they demonstrated that they will.  They split their purchases saving some money for this week.

The rapid expansion of shows is a problem.  Only the vendors are harmed.  The promoters for the time being have the vendors and the gate.  The attendees have more choices of shows to attend.  The vendors are spending more money and seeing smaller sales.  For some that will quickly end.  Vendors will drop out.  We are already hearing rumors of shows with a waiting list have exhausted those waiting lists.

Tucson, Yuma, Ontario and Phoenix have always had their shows in January.  So what changed?  Ontario moved to later in the month and this year added more vendors and  AQS announced its intention to come to Phoenix at the same time as the Rusty Barn show. 

In my opinion AQS in Phoenix is a renegade show with a couple of differences.  They are a huge for profit promoter and they are acting like the 800# gorilla.  They see what appears to be a lucrative market and they want to own it by crushing the competition. That is American business at its worst behavior and why many people dislike businesses.

The questions becomes, are the actions some promoters taking what you want?  If you are a vendor is doing all the shows in your best interest?  As an attendee or guild member is going to all the shows in your area in your best interest?  If it is what you want than continue your present actions.  If not it is time to choose.  Some shows and vendors will definitely not survive.

Quilter’s Rule will not continue to make the same choices.  We will not do multiple shows in overlapping markets.  We are a vendor and we intend to survive by maximizing sales at the lowest possible cost.  We will leave some money on the table as the cost to acquire it is just too high.  We will encourage and make suggestions to the promoters we choose to support and have supported our company.

And today daughter Patricia and I are on our way home after a very long time on the road.  I think there is a little snow in store for our drive.  We will see some of you at the Mid Atlantic Show in Hampton Roads, VA.