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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So the annual Woodworking Show is in Columbus this week . My wife and I have gone to it for many years and over the last few years it seems to be going downhill. This year it hit bottom. $14 a head to get in and another 5 for parking so $33 before you get in the door. Once inside I discovered that there is little to see or do. There was an excellent class on bandsaws by Carter, Jim Heavey was giving a class on finishing, a booth by Lee Valley with a handful of their tools...no inventory, all sales were for orders to be delivered at a later date, a booth by Woodpecker, also with virtually no inventory, microjig had a booth also as did Leaffitters and various other home improvement vendors. Not a single tool company was represented...in the past you could expect to see Bosch, Dewalt, and various others in attendance. There were multiple vendors who were peddling ultra cheap junk, stuff that would make HF look like Saks Fifth Avenue, a couple of turning clubs, and precious little else. To say that I was disappointed would be a huge understatement. We were gone within about 90 minutes, with at least 30 minutes spent at the bandsaw demo by Carter. It took almost as long to exit the fairgrounds as the traffic control was horrible and it seemed that everyone wanted to leave. Does anyone attend the woodshow elsewhere and what is your experience like?
 

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Bill - I used to attend the shows in Kitchener, Ontario until it shut down a number of years ago. Also attended the show in Hamilton, Ontario but when I started travelling to Florida in January, when the show is held, I haven't been since. I attended the show in Toronto quite a few years ago, but the crowds made it impossible to get anywhere near the displays.

The last time I attended the Hamilton show, most tool companies were there, and there were seminars that I took in occasionally. Lee Valley never had much inventory but I always took advantage of their free shipping while at the show - they've since opened a store near me and it's only a 20 minute drive so the free shipping isn't required.

I used to go to the shows to pick up something specific or check out the show specials like Bessey clamps, etc.
 

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They brought back the Detroit show this year after a 3 year absence. No advertising at all. I just happened to see it on a misc email about craft shows. Didn't even go.
 

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Similar story here in Portland, Oregon. It was a show worth attending for several years and then the cost of admission plus parking outstripped the value. Last time I checked one was not even scheduled. I do miss it as it was both educational and provided some excellent shopping opportunities. Oh well.

Before I retired it seemed the same course was running through the major medical society meetings.
 

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I used to go to the one they held here in the Lower Mainland (BC). They held it in the Agriplex out in the valley...a long drive and a ferry to get there. Maybe a $100 all in.
The two biggest exhibitors, KMS Tools and Summit Tools decided to pull out and host their own annual 'Open House' so to speak. Pretty much killed it. (I think maybe Busy Bee did the same thing.)
If I'm not mistaken the exhibitors fees were a large part of the reasoning for leaving; I heard that the show promoters got a bit greedy.
 

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Another thing killing such shows is the availability of youtube videos. One video by a manufacturer/supplier on youtube will reach more viewers than all the attendance numbers at woodworking shows. Plus, there's no fighting the crowds, travel, expenses to watch.

While open houses at brick and mortar operations will continue, a well-done informative video is far cheaper and light-years ahead of trade shows.

Economics is on the side of information through the least cost to reach vast numbers of interested parties.

With the exception of Home Depot and Lowe's which are within 4 miles of my home, I've spent thousands online and nothing at any brick and mortar "woodworking suppliers/retailers."

Even my recent purchase of a Jet dust collector was made online. I went to a "woodworking" store to look at Laguna bandsaws, examined the Jet dc and talked to a salesman, but the 220 model wasn't in stock, the store price was higher and didn't include shipping.

I came home, ordered it from Amazon for cheaper and with free shipping, and two days later it arrived at my shop and one hour later assembled and working.

This is how business is done today.
 

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At some point the tide turned for all the "shows"...Electronics, Woodworking, even Boat shows...

I guess a vicious cycle happens...maybe it's chicken and egg....

Less purchases at the shows because of prices on the internet...leads to less inventory at the shows...less discounts...less vendors...and the spiral continues.

On the other hand, vendors and manufacturers don't offer the same products and services at the shows...no reason to, they get the orders anyway.

Discounts at the shows don't mean anything anymore because same or better prices can be had on line. And what makes it worse, you can't go to the shows and "take it home and play" because all they do is take orders.

The shows were great because you could "touch and feel"...it used to be a buyer's market. Now the vendors and manufacturers don't need to compete.

Millenials don't need the touch and feel...they don't need to own vs rent. Hell, you can even buy and sell your vehicle without ever leaving your smartphone. They deliver and pick up in your driveway. They don't want to boats because they can rent one for a week or two. Smartphones and iPads/tablets apps even replace marine electronics. Cameras and remotes even allow machines to be controlled from the living room couch.

It's a shame...but the market drives responses...

Don't get the wrong idea...I definitely take advantage of the convenience of technology...but not for everything.
 

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At some point the tide turned for all the "shows"...Electronics, Woodworking, even Boat shows...

I guess a vicious cycle happens...maybe it's chicken and egg....

Less purchases at the shows because of prices on the internet...leads to less inventory at the shows...less discounts...less vendors...and the spiral continues.

On the other hand, vendors and manufacturers don't offer the same products and services at the shows...no reason to, they get the orders anyway.

Discounts at the shows don't mean anything anymore because same or better prices can be had on line. And what makes it worse, you can't go to the shows and "take it home and play" because all they do is take orders.

The shows were great because you could "touch and feel"...it used to be a buyer's market. Now the vendors and manufacturers don't need to compete.

Millenials don't need the touch and feel...they don't need to own vs rent. Hell, you can even buy and sell your vehicle without ever leaving your smartphone. They deliver and pick up in your driveway. They don't want to boats because they can rent one for a week or two. Smartphones and iPads/tablets apps even replace marine electronics. Cameras and remotes even allow machines to be controlled from the living room couch.

It's a shame...but the market drives responses...

Don't get the wrong idea...I definitely take advantage of the convenience of technology...but not for everything.
My feelings exactly, but I do miss the ability to touch and try out the more expensive tools before I buy them, and these shows served this need. In the Fall the Klingspore Shops have an annual show at the Hickory, NC convention center that's as big or bigger than "The Woodworking Shows" have been of recent years and they go out of their way to help local clubs with space at the shows and they have free vendor classes and demos. Admission and parking are FREE at the Klingspore shows too.

This year "The Woodworking Show" has decided to return to Charlotte, NC after about 5 years absence, and I'll likely go "because it's about woodworking", but it may be the last of their shows that I attend though. The parking AND the show entrance fee makes me wonder if it's worth going to them any more. 20 years ago these shows were 2X as large with many tool vendors there who brought stock with them. Peachtree Woodworking and Woodline both had large booths there too.

Charley
 

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Bill, we went to the show in Seacaucus, NJ last weekend, and Honestly, I was pleasantly surprised. We hadn't been to one of their shows in about 5 years because they were getting to be awful. The New England show is a joke. There was a huge presece of manufacturers in the Jersey show, Makita..DeWalt..Lee Valley.. Woodpecker, I don't know how their prices were because the rude people in attendance were just standing in the way telling the sales reps all their sad stories about how bad the tools were. We attended a short seminar on the Digital Wood Carver that was presented by Laney Shaugnesy, he did a good job and his presentation was vey interesting. We are looking into a CNC, but I don't think that will be the one. Anyway, there were several wood vendors at the show, and it was some of the nicest wood i have seen in a long time, I know one of the vendors was out of Virginia.

For anyone interested, the Northeast Woodworkers Association Showcase is in Saratoga, NY in 2 weeks. It is a great show of talent and there are some vendors there, although those numbers have diminished also. If you live in the Northeast, it's a fun day and a really nice show.

Overall, I agree with you Bill, the cost to attend such poorly presented "Trade Shows" does not make a lot of sense.
 

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For years I had season tickets to the Nascar race at Bristol. Any seat was a good seat.

Then, beginning about 1996, they added about 25000 seats. A few years later they added more.

The intimacy was lost. No longer were all the seats good. Longer times to get in and hours to leave the parking area. Concessions went out the roof on price.

In 1999, I sold my season ticket position for a tidy sum. Now I can watch the race on a 53" television with surround sound, eat my own food, avoid the drunks, use my own bathroom, and have no traffic or travel except walking my dogs in my quiet neighborhood cul-de-sac.

Nearly 98% of my business is done online with video calls, the other 2% is meeting with local clients to eat lunch and have some laughs.

I do not miss Bristol or the long travel and the expenses of meeting with clients.

Same with trade shows. I can do everything but touch the merchandise, and with the generous return policies of online vendors, I can order, touch it, and decide whether or not to keep it.

Like button hooks and buggy whips, trade shows for most people are in the past.
 

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The Indianapolis working working show was early February. I decided not to go last year , but thought about going this year until I realized how much it would cost to park and enter show for both wife and I. I can remember when spouses got in free. Also, as many of you stated, many “woodworking” suppliers have been replaced by low end junk suppliers. Over the years, I have made many of my purchases at the show. I January, I ran out of foam brushes that I usually purchased in bulk at the show. I decided to go on Amazon and purchased what I thought was a quality foam brush. I have used several of them and have been very satisfied. I agree that the ability to purchase and have delivered in two days hurt the shows.

When I was working, I was responsible for the companies and one problem was that the cost per square foot of space was increasing each year. I would evaluate the show versus “qualified leads” to determine if the show was that important to my company. The other factor that was hard to measure was whether the company was sending bad signals for not attending.

Frank
 

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I had a different experience this year at the show in Toronto. It's held next to Pearson International Airport. The parking is always free and I went the first day of the show which was on a Friday, running for 3 days. $15 dollars to get in and hand stamped to return if you so desire. A lot of exhibits. Two or three seminars a day. About half of the exhibitors would take orders to ship later and the others had plenty of stock. Bosch, Dewalt, Makita, etc. were there with stock. A separate section had carving and inlaying, (I forget the term) demonstrated as well as some lesser pursuits. I've been to others, Woodstock, about 100 kms. west, was borderline waste of time, and Hamilton which is rather small and they charge a mint for parking so they lost me. A couple of vendors at Toronto remarked on the unusual crowd size this year. The guy from Trend, he came from North Carolina, said he'd never seen so many people here. He put on a good display of their sharpening equipment. It comes and goes, though. Next year may be just the opposite. It's good to see and touch and feel. (the tools). I'll go again next year because of proximity. It's just up the road aways.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Another thing killing such shows is the availability of youtube videos. One video by a manufacturer/supplier on youtube will reach more viewers than all the attendance numbers at woodworking shows. Plus, there's no fighting the crowds, travel, expenses to watch.

While open houses at brick and mortar operations will continue, a well-done informative video is far cheaper and light-years ahead of trade shows.

Economics is on the side of information through the least cost to reach vast numbers of interested parties.

With the exception of Home Depot and Lowe's which are within 4 miles of my home, I've spent thousands online and nothing at any brick and mortar "woodworking suppliers/retailers."

Even my recent purchase of a Jet dust collector was made online. I went to a "woodworking" store to look at Laguna bandsaws, examined the Jet dc and talked to a salesman, but the 220 model wasn't in stock, the store price was higher and didn't include shipping.



I came home, ordered it from Amazon for cheaper and with free shipping, and two days later it arrived at my shop and one hour later assembled and working.

This is how business is done today.


Sadly, that is true.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
The Indianapolis working working show was early February. I decided not to go last year , but thought about going this year until I realized how much it would cost to park and enter show for both wife and I. I can remember when spouses got in free. Also, as many of you stated, many “woodworking” suppliers have been replaced by low end junk suppliers. Over the years, I have made many of my purchases at the show. I January, I ran out of foam brushes that I usually purchased in bulk at the show. I decided to go on Amazon and purchased what I thought was a quality foam brush. I have used several of them and have been very satisfied. I agree that the ability to purchase and have delivered in two days hurt the shows.

When I was working, I was responsible for the companies and one problem was that the cost per square foot of space was increasing each year. I would evaluate the show versus “qualified leads” to determine if the show was that important to my company. The other factor that was hard to measure was whether the company was sending bad signals for not attending.

Frank

I find it interesting that the largest number of sq ft at the show were occupied by the junk dealers, selling $2 router bits and other stuff that I would never consider buying.
 

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Bill,

I wrote a review on our local woodworking show in October. Trust me you show had much more than ours and I had to drive over an hour to get there. It was terrible, bad enough to make me say I will not go back !

Dan
 

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I went to the Woodworking Show in Kansas City. It was very disappointing as you experienced. Peachtree was not there. They were the largest vendor last year. My understanding Peachtree is a family owned business and had family issues and were skipping this year. They plan to be back next year. There are a significant number of vendors that have left over the last 15 years. If it weren’t for sitting through Jim Heavy’s presentation and Carter’s presentation, I could have been through the entire show,on a Saturday, in about an hour.
 

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It it was closer(6hr drive) I would go to the Toronto show, it sounds way better than ours. Montreal doesn't even have a show except for the pros with high priced equipment that only pro shops can afford or justify. I work as a technical rep for a Mississauga based company and I asked my boss if we could attend the show together and he said he could not justify the expense of my travels.:(
 

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Sorry to say I've never been to a woodworking show. Doesn't sound too promising anymore. My daughter and I exhibited for years at an annual doctor meeting, but after assessing the results, determined it really isn't worth all the cost (20 perent increase over last year plus premium hotel cost). We find that most of our business comes from articles in journals, Facebook and our newsletter. I will try to go this year as an ordinary participant, mostly to speak with friends, but will have something to promote our do it yourself offer. Sell one and all my expenses are paid. Bet my only competitor will be happy, but she's getting older and needs a cane, so I don't think she'll be around forever either. After 37 years in the field, I have some residual good will. Maybe I'll find someone ambitious to carry the business on. My daughter isn't doing that well at it.

The market for power tools is pretty small when you think about it. The consolidation and buy outs of smaller tool makers is proceeding apace. If we don't go, the tool cos. won't either.
 

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Booth rental is a big factor, I think. Plus paying to staff it if you're a major exhibitor, as well as travel expenses. I pay $2-300 for the "major" events I do go to. Twice that for a double booth at the Polish Festivals. This year, the 3rd biggest outdoor/hunting/fishing show raised the price to $450 for a 10 x10 (but with storage behind). Add to that a couple nites at a hotel and trailer rental on top of usual personal expenses, you need a pretty big crowd. Thought we'd do the really big Outdoorama this spring too (falls in the right time of year for me). $975 for a 10 x 10 with no storage. Too high when you're selling $10-100 items. Would hate to see what the bigger spaces were going for.
 
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