Washington Home & Garden Show Debrief

Still have to unpack and then total the money made versus what was invested in exhibiting at the show, but my early figures show we made a nice, small profit. We met our goal for new subscribers and sold a good number of the current plus back issues. Moreover, we got to meet a number of readers, collect new story leads, pursue advertising leads, and make new green industry contacts.

As per usual, when snow is forecast in the DC area, the local media likes to hype it to the hilt and scare people. This was a big problem for this event as the hall was pretty empty on Friday eve and Saturday morning (when snow was predicted, but none came). The crowds did come on Saturday afternoon and on Sunday (after the snow) we did get a decent turn-out. Since this was our first year doing this I can't really compare to past attendance - but I'd assume it was down overall.

The exhibits were 35% garden related (landscapers, stone masons, arborists, etc.), 55% home related (roofing, kitchen cabinets, furniture, etc.), and 20% neither (candy, jewelry, face cream, etc.). I'd have preferred it to be more garden-related exhibits and more stuff people could actually buy (houseplants, tools, seeds, etc.). Most of the garden stuff was of the big project variety like ponds, patio pavers, etc. that is more about gathering info and making post-show appointments rather than actual purchases.

We were very disappointed to see "The Virginia Gardener" exhibiting there as well. We had checked prior to exhibiting to ensure there were no potential competitors at the event - mostly to avoid being near each other or causing confusion among attendees. They were not on the exhibit list when we signed on and did not make the program listing that I saw. VA Gardener is published out of Louisiana by State-by-State Gardening and shares a lot of staff/articles with their other southern state magazines they publish (Tennessee Gardener, Oklahoma Gardener. etc.). I had a couple chats over the show days with their sales rep there, she was very nice and we discussed perhaps doing an ad exchange. Aside from the magazine, she also sold gardening books and mugs - I think the show was "okay" for her, but not as good as they'd expected.

We thought packing and getting out of there last night would be a nightmare as all 800 exhibitor booths tried to do the same, but it actually went smoothly and we were home about an hour after the show closed!

Will we do it next year? I'm leaning towards "yes," but right now is a "maybe" -- the cost of the booth, the timing, and the staffing hours are all the major factors we need to consider.


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