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Mixed reviews for National Hardware Show

Courtney Mueller -- Casual Living, June 1, 2007

Though official attendance numbers have yet to be released, all indications seemed to point to light attendance at this year's National Hardware Show, held last month in Orlando, Fla. The show seemed to start out strong, but left some vendors disappointed by the last day as they expressed mixed reviews of the show's location and attendance.

"We, and fellow exhibitors around us, all thought the traffic was noticeably off from Vegas," said Jack Bass, president of Outback Chair Co. "There were long periods of very little traffic, a trickle at best."

The show, usually held in Las Vegas, was relocated to Orlando this year due to ongoing renovations at the Las Vegas Convention Center. "We would have been placed in three different venues if we decided to stay in Vegas for 2007," said Andre Smith, marketing manager for The National Hardware Show.

On the flip side, the Orlando location this year drew several new exhibitors who are located regionally, such as Fort Lauderdale-based Ecosource Home & Garden, manufacturer of eco-friendly garden containers and planters.

"We may exhibit next year in Las Vegas based on this year's success," co-owner Chad Callihan said.

IDEATIVE Product Ventures exhibited for the first time as well. "We were very happy with turnout at the show," President Tavis Schriefer said. "We conducted demos (of the company's LeakFrog Water Alarm) continuously and people really loved it. We also had our product in New Product World and people actually searched us out because of that."

"Our company said the traffic in the booth was great, but that they could tell the show traffic overall was light," added Wendy Boeger, design and development operations manager for The Companion Group. "The traffic in Las Vegas is much better than Orlando, but we were very pleased with the turnout."

Danny East with Masterbuilt said, "Traffic was moderate to good. We saw a lot of people we needed to, good buyers, but very little independent (retailer) traffic."

Some vendors were left wondering if the nearby attractions such as Sea World and Disney World took away from show attendance. "This is a fantastic venue, but there is a lot of distraction," said Steve Riley with Haws Watering Cans. "I prefer Las Vegas, it's more adult. I think traffic is down here."

"(Opening day) was packed for us," said Erol Gokner with Unique Arts. "I personally prefer Las Vegas, but there doesn't seem to be a big difference here. I saw a lot of new customers."

"Traffic is down, but we're writing orders, which is unusual," said Dale Klaus, president of Patio Living Concepts. "I don't quite get it."

The show will return to Las Vegas May 6–8, 2008, at the LVCC and Sands Convention Center.

Outback Chair Co.'s booth featured the company's new hanging chairs.

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