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What if there were no or few exhibitors at a trade show?

Discussion in 'Picture Framing Business Issues' started by Rob Markoff, Jul 17, 2010.

  1. Rob Markoff

    Rob Markoff PFG, Picture Framing God

    Is GREAT education from some of the industry's top instructors enough to get you to come to a trade show?

    Or, if it was called an educational forum or symposium would you still attend?

    I recall the first few WCAF shows, where there were few booths and it was primarily an educational conference.

    I see the posts re: the DECOR show saying they are "holding off" pending seeing an exhibitor list. Is that really the determining factor?
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  2. jim_p

    jim_p SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    My travel budget is practically nonexistent, so any show I go to had better be worth my while. This means I want both educational opportunities and a chance to catch up with existing vendors and get to know new ones. Either one (Education or Vendors) by itself isn't enough to get me on a plane...
  3. MaJa

    MaJa SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I would! The real reason I go is education.

    I think the reason people are waiting for the vendor list is NOT to make sure there are enough vendors, but to make sure the show is going to stick.

    I know if I had to buy plane tickets I would be waiting to make sure it was really going to happen. I almost bought tickets for Baltimore 2 years ago and I can tell you ... it makes you leary.

    What do they say ... once bitten, twice shy?

    PLUS ... you can not sign up for the classes yet ... even I'm not feeling 100% that there will be a show. But I really hope there is!
  4. wpfay

    wpfay Angry Badger

    I see your point, but the variables are really different now. The first couple WCAF shows were in the growing stages, and the economy was vibrant, air travel was really cheap, and Las Vegas was still a great value (4 night, 5 days, the show and air travel were cheaper than 2 nights in Atlanta at the time).
    The Decor show in Atlanta is coming after a downward spiral and a cancellation. The economy doesn't help, and there is pretty high attrition in the number of framers still in business. Didn't they once say that only 10% of the framers attended trade shows and took classes? If the numbers of viable frame shops with budgets to attend trade shows has shrunk proportionately, there may not be enough attendees to make the show a success.
    The perception is also tainted a bit by some of the big players in the trade show end deciding not to attend. It's not like the WCAF where they had never attended, and were soon to sign up. These folks have been to Atlanta for years and their bean counters say it just isn't worth it any more.

    Another reality that they have to deal with this year is that the gift show no longer coincides with the Decor Expo.
    What we were originally looking at was a 3fer...trade show, education, and gift mart. Now it is looking more like education only and a lot of folks don't have the resources to go to more than one show a year. As good as it promises to be, the education alone may not be enough to get these people to go.
  5. Framing Queen

    Framing Queen CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    Education is a draw, but the object of Decor EXPO is an EXPOsition - in other words a trade show.

    If they want to produce strictly - or mostly - an education event, it should be billed as such. I don't expect to go to an EXPO and have it primarily education.

    So, if the vendor list is super short, I'm opting out. I want to buy some equipment this year and find some new moulding suppliers since USA is now out - that's my primary motive for attending.

  6. couture's gallery

    couture's gallery PFG, Picture Framing God

    I think the importance of vendors is equal to the importance of educational opportunities...for me anyway...if the vendor list is weak, I may also cancel my plans to attend.
  7. etlock

    etlock CGF, Certified Grumble Framer


    Question # 1 Answer NO

    Question # 2 Answer NO

    Statement #3 Question Was there enough attendance
    revenue generated to pay the bills?

    Question # 4 Answer YES

    Just one old mans opinion,
    Thanks for asking, Tom
  8. CAframer

    CAframer SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    As frequency and quality of webinars increase the need for in person 'show and tell' educational classes will decrease. Classes worth attending will be more in the category of hands-on workshops.

    A rose by any other name still as sweetly smells. A toilet by any other name still smells like ... well you know, enough said. In other words what you call it matters not, pertinence of content does.

    A historical perspective may not have relevance because of changes in the industry / economy / technological infrastructure.

    If negative messages are broadcast, a negative outlook & result is sure to follow.

    If funds are limited, as they are for many (most?) in this economy then it is important to maximize return for travel dollars, so it would be natural to hold off until it is clear what you are getting for your money.
  9. DVieau2

    DVieau2 PFG, Picture Framing God

    Isn't that what the PPFA convention is?

  10. johnny

    johnny SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    As it stands I might if it wasn't more than a few hours drive away. If travelling and spending considerable time away from the shop I would instead go to the venue that provided both education and a trade show. The benefits of seeing new products in person and making buying deals are too great to miss out on, given the choice of deciding which venue is worth travelling to. I'm not going to more than one per year given the current options.

    If there are about 13,000 independants left and that number will continue to decline before things get better then maybe we are still too diluted for the number of shows we have. I know we had too many shows years ago and that was when we had more shops.

    I'd guess that less than 1% of shops would consider going to more than one expo/tradeshow/conference type of thing per year. Probably less than 100 shops. I'd also guess that the number of shops that would go to 1 per year every year is also pretty low compared to the numbers needed to have these shows thrive.

    I feel for those of you who derive your income more from teaching, but for lots of these types of classes I think the future is online, at least for a while, if you want to be having them attended several times per year. People will probably travel more for workshops that they value rather than classes with info they can get through webinars. Things like guilding or Eric's wood finishing workshops, or being able to work with someone on a PC to learn how to get max value out of their CMC. But only really new framers are going to travel hundreds of miles to take a workshop in say (please, really, no offense) designing with fillets. And how many new framers are there? The photographers have probably gotten into the swing of things now and are only going to get into it so far.

    Anyway, my point is that yes the education needs to be great. But you also need to have unique classes that framer's will see give them value for attending in person, including workshops, and a great key-note speaker maybe even from outside the normal sphere of framing so it's a fresh name.

    Looking at the class line up for Atlanta there are some good classes sure but is it worth travelling 800 miles for and spending days away from the shop when I'll have to attend Vegas for the trade show? No. But if I could hands-on learn how to cut a logo in a mat, or deboss, or use the lining pen for my CMC or continue classes in guilding or carving or finishing raw wood and then attend a great keynote speach by someone I'm not going to see in Vegas anyway the draw is going to be so much more enthralling and then I'll fill in the rest of my schedule with all the other classes I would take.
  11. Paul N

    Paul N In Corner

    IMHO: Education is the ultimate factor. After all, what one doesn''t get to see at the exhibitors' booths. the reps will shlep into our stores a couple of weeks after (or even before!) the show.

    Nothing beats sitting in a class with the best minds in the industry to learn from their advice, experience and wisdom.

    The only exceptions to the above are Pat Kontour and Baer: Their booths are both an exhibition and a classroom.

    As to PPFA, no offence, but when does PPFA have a draw and diversity as big as WCAF, for example??

    And of course, packaging all of the above in a decent surrounding.... doesn't hurt either.
  12. Rick Granick

    Rick Granick SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    There is often overlap between the education and trade show elements, such as classes devoted to one particular CMC type, POS system, or other proprietary product.
    I think the advent of the webinar will lessen the need to travel and attend shows for education alone. I enjoy the trade show, and it is a big draw for me to attend a conference. Especially now that so many companies have cut back on reps, it's a chance to see and feel the quality of products personally. It is essential for trying and comparing pieces of equipment.
    So, to answer Rob's original question, I would probably travel shorter distances for an education-only event... maybe a 2 to 3 hour drive for a regional event, in order to enjoy the comraderie and social factor along with the education (which could be imparted in a seminar), but it would probably take a combination of seminars and trade show to attract me to a far-away convention.
    :kaffeetrinker_2: Rick
  13. pwalters

    pwalters SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    While the interaction is a tremendous part of any educational situation (sorry home schoolers), the truth is that a purely education forum is something that can be done by webinar in this day and age. If Decor want's to host an educational forum, they can conduct it via web or they can put together a travelling show with all of the "names" that everyone pays to listen to. The benefit of this show is the edu and the vendors all in one spot. Much like Wal-mart, one stop shopping.
  14. JWB9999999

    JWB9999999 SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Amen to everything MaJa said. 100% my reasoning. If no vendors commit, the show will cancel. I booked a hotel 5 months ahead last year and poof, no show. Not doing it this year until I see the vendors are there and the show is really going to happen.

    But I really do like visiting the vendors too. That's also educational and informative, not to mention interesting... and profitable. Two years ago I made about $12k from my purchases at the show. I'd like to repeat that performance.
  15. Kirstie

    Kirstie PFG, Picture Framing God

    Now that we have a lot of calsses under our belts, including Rob's and Barbara's, I will be the first to admit that the trade show is the number one factor for us. I was uable to go to WCAF at the last minute this year and I am still feeling like I missed a lot on the trade show floor. Reps don't bring the whole line to your doorstep anymore and the only way to see a full moulding line is at a big show. Same for close-out mouldings, new gadgets and tools, new fabric samples, new art, and so on. I love the trade show and always make sure we have enough time between classes to fully explore it. We always take some classes, but making sure we have time at the trade show is very important.

    Had we not been in business for three decades I might feel differently. And of course there is always something new to learn and we value education.

    How's that for a wishy-washy answer?
  16. HB

    HB SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Trade show is a must!

    I don't really like the PMA show because it doesn't compare to the WCAF as to show booths.

    It probably depends where you come from.

    If you are from a big metropolis like LA or NY etc, you can probably see all the main suppliers & equipment locally.
    Not so for someone in TimBuck2

    Educational classes are good, but I think I can learn "how to deal with a difficult customer" from my own chair reading an article or watching a video etc.

    With equipment & new materails, I want them in my hands etc. I want to ask the demo person to do this & that & watch it work!
  17. i-m-chickie

    i-m-chickie SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Wow...where to start.

    I have registered for Atlanta this Fall, 5 hours of easy road, husband has kin nearby, never been to ANY show...but MOST OF ALL for support. Added my name on a list to say, I am a framer, I have a storefront, and I am eager and watching....and waiting....

    For me Rob I am initially inclined to say NO...initially. Knee-jerk like.
    I am am fairly newish, and a visual person, and VERY BUSY, I need to have dedicated time for a dedicated task. Immersion through, time and travel and expense. Or other things get in the way. There are so many companies I have found ONLY because of the G...I am sure, very sure I am not alone.

    Also, as someone else mentioned Baer and Pat, educators with wares. I am fine ponying up money for tuition for classes, I feel no less willing to spend if the class is somewhat "infomercial-like"...If it makes my work better and easier.

    But, Johnny, I think you said it... BUT there are new framers all the time. People that query here this or that or stuff they didn't know, or a product they'd never heard of as reps are not so common...specially for a small shop like mine. I only recently learned what a Wall Buddy is...catalogs don't help with stuff like that. (Thanks for explaining NIC...See, we do talk about framing too!;))

    AND, I registered for Atlanta and it did NOT ask for $$$, if no vendors, exhibitors...who is paying. I just sayin'!

    Also, as there are new folk, and things change often, and as indies struggle...I feel these shows show that we, or some of us still want to be catered to and dazzled with cool stuff, to in turn show or customers new cool stuff...won't that then keep the vendors on their toes to NOT take smaller shops, growing shops, with growth and potential...show them that we should NOT be taken for granted and need to be catered to as well....
    BBs don't often clean up after us...but we do for them. Our strengths as indies are really only represented in small ways...sometimes here.
    And shows, and PPFA membership...unity is not often, and scarcely is it truly beneficial to all involved...unless a standard is imposed for all. I think shows off that unique opportunity. Who is going to demand that!?! And to what end?

    I will end on one of my fav little quirkie saying I learned from a biz book (wish I could remember which)... Price, Quality, Service...Pick any two. All that is possible to offer. Shows, IMHO are part of companies service to us whether or not we attend is part of ours to our customers!;)
  18. Framing:

    Framing: In Corner

    If manufacturers and suppliers don’t think a trade show is worth supporting, neither would I.
  19. Jay H

    Jay H PFG, Picture Framing God

    Tradeshows probably benefit people differently. I think the last I attended was maybe 3 years ago - maybe more. For me, I miss the inspiration drawn from my peers. The G is a great way to communicate but there is something about chatting with friends over a bar table that is good for my business.

    The tradeshow and education rank far far behind the fellowship. The internet can and does easily replace both. But hey, the taxman is going to need to see some business. So tradeshow/classes...whatever. I suspect that many framers would take or leave either as long as they had a chance to get out of the shop for a few days and brainstorm with their peers. I'd bet a house payment if tradeshow promoters were church up "bs" by calling it "networking" and focus on those opportunities they would create much more interest than classes or stuff combined. But create interest and the stuff and classes will follow.
  20. etlock

    etlock CGF, Certified Grumble Framer

    It always amazes me how individualistic we picture framers are. This
    one, " Industry education vs. industry shows " is a no brainer. The one, does not succeed as well without the other. Guess how many brilliant minds over how many agonizing years it took to come to that conclusion.

    Its not about the philosophy, It's about the economy, " it's all about the money ". Your money ( the retail businessperson ) and their money ( the supplier and the magazine publisher ) which in fact is all the same interconnected money. When it is tough for us it is tough for them and I am quite sure that, like us , when unpopular decisions are made they are made in the best interests of survival.

    Be easy on me, I'm always easy on you !

  21. Rob Markoff

    Rob Markoff PFG, Picture Framing God

    OK what about this-

    Suppose there was a regional EDUCATIONAL SYMPOSIUM - meaning it is all about education, with hands on classes, demos, lots of free sample give-aways (like in my classes :) ) a "working" lunch, meaning a speaker during lunch - and in the evening, a table top vendor show where sales reps get a table top (no pipe and drape booths) to show their latest wares.

    And, it is not a major commitment to fly and spend the night, unless it was a two day event and you wanted two days of education.

    Would you come?
  22. Jay H

    Jay H PFG, Picture Framing God

    "Educational Symposium"? I had no idea this trade was so difficult. Or is it that framers are so slow?

    No I probably wouldn't. Overall I have been rather under impressed with many of the classes I have taken. I openly admit that based on that and other things my opinion is biased. But any casual observer would have to admit that when looking down recent class schedules at trade shows there is heavy overlap of topics and a good deal of fluff (just judging the cover).

    I'm not sure what your inquiring about specifically but this may help. I think the days of traveling for an “education” is about over unless the class requires a great deal of hands on instruction. A fella by the name of Chase Jarvis started a website called http://creativelive.com/. I believe that is the future of trade classes. It basically has two stages. First the class is offered for free. When it is recorded it's completely free and interaction with the educator is welcome via classroom and twitter. Then after the class is over, to rewatch it or save it you have to pay.

    Although that group seems geared toward professional trades, they obviouslly focus on the creative arts and not really business. But the model is hardly cutting edge or impossible to copy. I could see the PPFA pulling something like this off with a minimal investment. They could include business as well as mechanical classes.

    That system has many advantages. For one it's convenient. It's affordable. Above all its like buying a CD after you have sampled the songs. Right now it's a big investment in time and money to spend a weekend taking classes that stink. How nice would it be to read reviews or even sample a class before it's purchased?
  23. Framing:

    Framing: In Corner

  24. JWB9999999

    JWB9999999 SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Probably. I'm interested in lots of different things. Crossroads in Jackson, MS, has regular mini-trade shows with 3 different vendors plus themselves in attendance, in many different cities. No education stuff, but I go once a year. If there were something similar for education, I'd go too. I've thought about heading all the way down to Houston for some of the PPFA stuff, but haven't done that yet (it's a whole day's drive). Memphis, New Orleans, Birmingham, Nashville, Atlanta, Shreveport, Mobile, Pensacola... those would be the places I'd drive to to see a show.

    Last year after they cancelled the Decor show in Atlanta, they sent out a questionnaire asking if I'd be interested in attending regional mini-trade shows if they were to host them. I sent them a resounding YES. But nothing ever happened with that.

    I *really* don't want to go to Vegas, but if Atlanta were to cancel again this year, I'm afraid I'd have to. I need to purchase things for good profits, to find new vendors, to learn about new materials and techniques and services that I might offer, so that I can stay ahead of the curve. I want my shop to be the one that everyone for 100 miles says, "We try to be as good/inexpensive/quick as they are."

    And unlike Jay, I have found extremely little "fluff" in the classes that I've taken in the two times I've been to the Atlanta show. I would say that I would sign up for 3/4 of those classes again, knowing what they are about now. And actually, I DID sign up for one class twice! Jared always gives such a great class on good ideas for marketing your shop that I take it every chance I can. So what if some of the ideas are the same as before; I forget things, and sometimes it takes time for ideas to sink in. His classes have always been great. :)
  25. Bonnadema

    Bonnadema In Corner

    Times are changing. Framers education must change too. Jay is absolutely right. Find a different way to teach and do what you obviously love to do. Think Internet. Otherwise you'll attract fewer and fewer students, especially if classes are to be offered off the national show's floor.
  26. Jared Davis CPF GCF

    Jared Davis CPF GCF MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    OK - I think someone should "speak for the silent" here....

    I agree, times are changing...

    However, in "keeping it real", we should recognise a major point - for every framer represented here on this forum, there are over a 100 framers who are not....

    With no disrespect, "the opinions of few, do not equal the opinions of many."

    The only opinions heard or fielded on this forum, are from those business owners who are already particularly web-savvy and comfortable with using the internet as a tool (eg: reading the grumble, participating in webinars, etc) .. and this is certainly the way things are heading...

    The web is a good educational resource, for those who are familiar and happy with it, but there are "more" framers out there who are not as familiar with the web, forums or online webinars, that prefer to go to a tradeshow, or go to a live seminar/class, and "feel the spirit" of the education.... The same thing appies to many framers who actually are "web savvy" too.

    for example: It's one thing to watch "Stevie Wonder" perform live over an online web broadcast, or even watch a DVD recording.... but it's totally another thing all together, experiencing the atmosphere of seeing Stevie Wonder perform LIVE!

    Tradeshows and education is the same thing.

    In my opinion, which I'm sure is shared by others as well, watching a 30 minute online webinar, or visiting a vendor's website, doesn't quite leave you with the same feeling of "inspiration" and "motivation to change", as visiting a tradeshow, or sitting through the dynamic experience of a live 2 hour class.... (as long as it is a "good" class!). Some people prefer to be engaged and involved a bit more than others.


  27. Jay H

    Jay H PFG, Picture Framing God

    Nobody claimed it was but when you ask a question on an internet forum, who else but those on the web would you expect to respond. Surely Rob realized that.

    For my sake, I only profess to speak for me anyway. It doesn't make much sense to look at a growing and popular trend and write it off as though it's ineffective. I'm finishing the last 18 hours of my degree right now and only 6 hours of it is in class room. If it's good enough for a degree, it's surely good enough for framing course. One of my classes was writing. I had to write a research paper with MLA documentation and I wrote my paper on the effectiveness of online courses. This was about college courses and not trade type classes but the studies are in. Online courses are not the least bit less effective than traditional classes. If anything there is some suggestion that they are more effective. When one can learn when it's convenient for them, they tend to learn more. Also the enrollment rate increases for online courses vs traditional class room classes are about 10% to .1% respectively (as I recall from memory). Generally speaking this learning avenue is a well accepted viable option.

    Also there is a matter of scale. As I remember a typical class was what 8 - 20 framers? Remove those that aren't already internet savvy and you have what 4 - 10 conservatively. Now imagine a well run series of classes online. How many, honestly, would you expect may participate? I know this is all reading tea leaves but wouldn't you think it would be a few times more than that? The simple fact is that you can and will likely reach far more people online than you ever will in a class room from now until the end of time (as long as both are fairly represented).

    FWIW, a well known photographer gave a 2 1/2 day class online. I missed it free and live. The reviews from those who spent the entire weekend infront of a monitor rave on it. Many claim to have bought it. The teacher has released come clips from it. I'm about to pay $135 for the recording. That's what, 2 or 3 times the typical trade show price and I'll bet they have sold it over 1000 times. I know of a few framers who have never owned a pc. They've not been to a trade show recently either but even if they had, they represent a small portion of would be class takers. So to open opportunity for a few, we should deny the masses? Speaking of trade shows, at what rate are they growing say in the last 5 years?

    Even you would have to admit thats a bit of an oversale :)
  28. Framing Queen

    Framing Queen CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    No disrespect, Jared, but for those of us who made our living operating trade shows and educational seminars - these are two completely different animals.

    A trade show - or exposition (Expo for short) is business-speak for a heavy vendor oriented show. A symposium - or seminar - is heavily educational. One requires HUGE floor space, the other does not.

    PPFA already provides regional education - some of the classes are quite good. And, there's no replacing classroom interaction. But, for the most part, DVDs and web based materials are just as educational for a business base such as framing.

    So, speaking for myself, if I'm going to Atlanta for an EXPO - I expect to see oodles of vendors with a side dish of education.

  29. johnny

    johnny SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    If the consumers expected value of the educational product is sufficiently greater than the cost of attending enough to account for the effort expended plus some extra value then you'll sell your educational product no matter what the venue is online or off.

    If the product is online then the effort = low. If the product is 1000 miles away the effort = high. If the product is sort-of local and live the effort = mid.

    The greater the remaining value after the effort is accounted for the more you'll sell.

    If the product is available both online and off then it can't stand alone because you're going to have a difficult time inspiring people to spend the extra effort. It will need partnering products to draw people to it.
  30. etlock

    etlock CGF, Certified Grumble Framer

    Would you come ?

    I already go! What Rob described sounds a lot like a PPFA local chapter meeting to me. It's regional, invited speakers, hands on education, supplier welcome, (table top vendor displays) grumble style interaction, low cost, with many donated prizes and gifts .Lets be carefull here we may be on to something constructive !

    Someone told me once " That to be a good leader "you must take yourself out of yourself and think of what is best for the whole." It will work in this discussion.

  31. wpfay

    wpfay Angry Badger

    FQ, I think you missed Jared's point. He's saying that both tradeshows and education benefit from the live experience, not that they are equal to one another. If he had meant the latter, he would have used "are" instead of "is".

    Jared, you are right about that, but the question remains about attendance with a diminished venue.
    When you think about the folks that attend trade shows I would be surprised if the vast majority were not computer friendly. We are only talking about 10% of the industry that attend, and those are the ones that are more proactive in their own businesses. Just because they aren't Grumblers doesn't keep them from doing webinars.
  32. Jay H

    Jay H PFG, Picture Framing God

    I think you may onto something but that probably has more to do with the size of our industry, the amount, availability, and quality of the education*. The photography industry is a little larger and more healthy than ours but not significantly. We suffer many of the same issues. Yet when you look at the participation, availability, and quality of the education out there you will notice a blinding contrast. With the right combination of 2 or 3 rock-star photographers in one venue, suppliers battle for participation.

    So I do think that the right education can drive participation. As with anything it's about quality though. I think with some past show lineups the promoters had mistaken "more" with "better". The industry voted.

    This thread does seem to be somewhat focused on participation at classes. No matter how it's dressed up or where it's located any formal gathering will be expensive and inconvenient for 2/3 of the country. Just based on that I would have to say that the answer to Rob's question is "no".

    *This is a general comment about the total quality of framing specific courses and not a comment on any of the educators participating in this thread who I would argue are the exception to this observation.
  33. Framing Queen

    Framing Queen CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    Possibly, but we're speaking to the point of whether an EXPO with diminished vendor support would be as much of a draw if there were a big education component - as Rob had originally posed.

    My point was that an EXPO is a trade show. A symposium - or seminar - is not.

  34. Jim Miller

    Jim Miller SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Would you be going to a trade show for the same reasons as a supplier? Usually the reasons are completely different for framers.

    Suppliers go to trade shows for only one reason: to sell their products to framers. On the other hand, framers may go to trade shows for several reasons: education, industry connections, social activities, and to see what's new in framing hardware & software.
  35. pwalters

    pwalters SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer


    One would argue that the section in bold is also why vendors/suppliers attend (in addition to the one you point out). Education (educating potential customers about their products), industry connections (connecting with potential clients and other suppliers to forge relationships), social activities (for many far flung companies, this is often a reason for team meetings, etc) and to see what's new in framing hardware and software (to see how the market changes/has changed, etc.). There is more to it than just selling product.

    I think the original point about vendors in our business not supporting a show (which is purely speculation at this point) is valid. If a vendor isn't going to spend their money to go to the show, it's because they likely are expecting it to be of little to no value for them. Why do they feel that way? Some expectation of lowered attendance? Conversations with other vendors about not attending for various reasons? All of the above? More than the above? If a small shop has to choose someplace to spend $1800 (our running estimate for attending the show) and it looks like they aren't going to be able to get with some/all/many of their primary vendors or are looking to find vendors to forge new relationships, they might be hesitant to attend. I suppose it is going to all depend upon what is the most important to you. The edu or the trade show. Ultimately, many know that they will get both from Vegas, so that's why some folks choose that one as their show for the year. I long for the Decor show because it's the right time (maybe a little late this year) for my fall buying.

    Now, if any of the "experts" are going to host a class on how to make this economy work for you, I think they would get a ton of participation.
  36. Framing Queen

    Framing Queen CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    It would seem to me that a show of this size would have posted vendors long ago. If 8 weeks out the promoters are unsure of the vendor list this late in the game, they should simply pull the plug.

    I liked the ATL show in the past 'cause it was close and at a good time of year for me. I really hate that flight to LV and back. But, I imagine the trade show industry is suffering from the same issues we all are facing. But, I would think that the Decor show would at least post a date for a final vendor list. I'm not making any reservations before I'm able to see a vendor list. Education - when PPFA offers similar opportunities - is just not a motivating factor for me.

  37. i-m-chickie

    i-m-chickie SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Opinions to follow...take 'em or leave 'em.

    Trade shows, expos and educational symposiums of all sorts (whatever you want to sell them as), seems to me, are for the purpose of informing en masse. About product, standards, methodologies and inspirations...and the like. They keep us all on the same page, if we choose to be, by attending. We all sell framing, and we all want to do it right, do it best and make some money...how best to do that.
    So, what the issue to me is getting to the core of it...MONEY.

    Where it is coming from where it is going and to what end...

    Okay, if a show is SOLID, and a framer is able...time and money wise he will attend.
    Same as buying samples for a wall that are desirable instead of the former being given...value.

    But, and here is where I may be treading thin ice...as my opinions come out more...and admittedly I haven't attended a show heretofore in either industry my shop represents....Larger companies (Corporate sponsors that I would wish to meet in Atlanta, that DO NOT send reps to my store!) are seem to me to be setting their sights on servicing the bigger fish, IE the BBs. Where growth potential, customer satisfaction (at least in my corner of the world), honest pricing, truly educating a customer, and giving a better experience regarding framing(do NOT get me started regarding needlework!), is achieved in small indie stores like those that log on to this site...SO, I feel they, THEY should be reaching out to the hopeful, optimistic hardworking entrepreneurs, instead of the quick buck seeking BBs that DO NOT send their staff to trade shows thus also hastening the demise of such events. Thus leaving framers themselves scrambling to fill the void by putting on such events themselves!!
    Strong values such as integrity, honesty, good work and fair pricing and a good product are found in stores like our...stores with a soul....where a creed is lived and breathed, not and exam question on beginning a job, I know great folk that work at the places, so excuse me if you are one...it is because of you yourself tho', not the bigger entity, I mean not to offend. Reaching out to like minded small business folk would be money well spent...not quick and fleeting. Ideological?...l perhaps. Believe it? Sure do!
    So I guess...the fact that instructors are out there and ready to teach...with a fee...is fine okay by me, but corporations with bigger pockets...and, to me, indifferent to an East Coast event...frustrates me....and makes me knit my brow and think about staying home too!
    I see the issues, and I know that money flowing is not as it was...and other stuff ,like drayage, cripples big events...but Why! Why are the little guys always left holding the bag and cleaning the mess...why?
    There has to be a way...

    If I am wrong...I will take it...the above is my opinion and that and a quarter will NOT get you a cup of coffee...except if you happen to be in my shop...coffee is always on!
  38. Paul Cascio

    Paul Cascio SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Same rules apply. What's the benefit of attending? Also, what's the risk?

    I don't go to the movie theater unless I know what's playing. And I don't go to the beach unless I know it's going to be sunny and warm.

    Same thing for a trade show, especially one with a history of leaving people at the alter. Burn me once...
  39. Framing:

    Framing: In Corner

    For the most part I attend trade shows to update my knowledge.

    I would have a quick look at the proposed vendors and from experience of previous shows I would have some idea of who will have new offerings, if new offering are lacking, no way would I waste my time travelling.

    Regarding education I’m a strong believer that the place for education is in a classroom under education conditions and standards or at the very least a good online offering, if the education at a trade is lacking I would just not bother attending the classes.

    The cross pollination (or social) aspect of a trade show is of relevance but in no way would it be a major factor in attending a trade show.

    Also the time involved in attending a trade show is of relevance to me, travel time to and from any major point in the US alone is a about 3 to 4 days in total from my location.

    Perhaps the reason there is a lack of vendors attending trade shows is the lack of any real significant new offerings from vendors these days.

    Other than some offerings around CMC for the main part, there is a lack of innovation from vendors these days around the framing industry, please do not start quoting examples of items, where samples can be popped into an envelope and be with me in a few days to have a look at or that it will only cost me a few $$ to put in a small order, these sort of offerings are not enough to get me to a trade show.

    All that said I am going to try and make Vegas, Atlanta is not doing it for me.
  40. Grey Owl

    Grey Owl SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I attend trade shows first, to talk to vendors, 2nd for education and 3rd to see what is new.

    I have only gone to the WCAF and the PPFA. I work the show, meaning, i get a list of vendors, look at the map, and work up a list of questions for each of the vendors.

    Last year, with the economy a little weak, I had a budget of less than $800. I was there for 4 days and 3 nights; I only took the free classes, with one exception. I spent a lot of time on the floor with vendors, and I spent time at the end of each class talking with the instructor about additional issues / questions. I also spoke with others in the class. So I learned quite a bit from others.

    I also shopped for show specials, and I probably got enough in savings to equal my budgeted expenses. I had to ask vendors about their specials, but it was worth it.

    PS: I also went to the Grumble dinner - it was within my budget.
  41. Pat Kotnour

    Pat Kotnour SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I'm afraid that America has forgotten about the small business' who made this country what it is. A trade show is the best place for the small business concerns, who don't get the service from the vendors in which the big accounts do, can go to see new products and have a face to face with the people they do business with. Unfortunately the big gun companies are not committing to the show. It seems to me that the reason the Decor show is not posting a vendor list is because too many vendors are waiting to see who is going to be there. No one can blame Decor if this show doesn't make it, because they can't commit without vendor backing. Every vendor in the industry should have a presence at the show...even if it is just a 10x10 or 20 booth. If I can afford it, so should the big companies be able to. It is very dissappointing that so many have the "wait and see" attitude.
  42. Paul Cascio

    Paul Cascio SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    It's a real catch-22, but many vendors got burned, not to mention the attendees who booked a trip. I feel bad for the folks at Decor, but everyone has to be prudent about spending money.
  43. etlock

    etlock CGF, Certified Grumble Framer


    A heavyweight CEO in our industry when asked why it was his firm
    rented space in a new show, when all he ever did was complain that our industry had too many shows,he responded saying, " If my competitor is there then we have to be there regardless.

  44. JWB9999999

    JWB9999999 SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I called Wizard yesterday and asked if they are going. They said "maybe", that they hadn't signed up yet.
  45. Rob Markoff

    Rob Markoff PFG, Picture Framing God

    Hi All-

    Let's try to not turn this thread into the Decor Expo bashing thread......

    What I am looking for is your input on what would make for good eduction and motivate you to come to a gathering of framers where education would be offered.

    For those of you who have been disappointed in prior educational offerings - or for those of you who "have taken everything" - what topics/different types of classes are you looking for? (and they can be web based, in person, etc.) -

    What has not been taught that you would like to see?

    Are there specific classes or types of classes that you would expect from one resource and not from another? For example, are the classes you would expect from the PPFA different than those from a magazine (i.e. DECOR or PFM)?

    To kick this off, I'll mention a concept-

    I believe that the role of a trade association is more than just teaching the "craft" of our business. To me, a trade association needs to compliment the craft aspect of the industry with what I call "life skills"- the other set of skills needed to make the every day life of business more successful. (and yes, some of these are already in the mix)

    Topics include things like:

    Negotiating skills (that can be used over a wide range of products/services needed.)

    Sales Techniques

    Web Design (etc.)

    Using Social Networking effectively (Twitter, Facebook, Lineked In)

    E-mail marketing - HOW TO DO IT

    All about insurance (what types there are, how to buy it, levels needed, how to choose an insurance company)

    Bank Card processing (what are the fees to look for, how to determine what processor is offering the best deal)

    How to prepare to sell your business - exit strategies

    Using computer based accounting software - is the POS component of your framing software enough? Should you be using something in addition? Are there unrealized benefits?

    Balance sheet/operating statement analysis - what do those numbers mean and what can you do in your daily operation that will change them?

  46. joe

    joe CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    Yes, I would go to an educational event. There are a lot of things I still have a need to observe and learn about. Such as shadow box designing and mounting of 3-D objects. Maybe repairing old frames and refinishing frames. I need more information on website improvement also. I know these classes have been offered before but I still need to take part.

    I think a strong core of business related classes would be valuable. One I would take could show you which vendor saves you the most money in terms of their delivery policy,costs for delivery, minimums for delivery, and price for their products.

    I would really like to hear from an executive from a major retail player on how they and others view our industry. How do they, within their company, see the art decor market, etc.

    Maybe all of these have been made available in the past at either Atlanta or Vegas (shadow boxes & other traditional courses) but seeing and hearing in person makes the strongest impression, for me at least.

    Oh yes, I need to retake a pricing class too.
  47. DVieau2

    DVieau2 PFG, Picture Framing God

    In my local market we have three distributors, a local PMA Chapter and a Local PPFA chapter. Between them there are opportunities for small Vendor Shows, Framing Education and Business education.

    I understand that if your located in a small market you wouldn't have the same events but in the past year, in the Minneapolis area, I have:

    Fall 2009- attended PMA chapter meeting with Marketing Expert Dr Glenn Omura. He talked about marketing to the younger generation via social media and other web tools.

    Fall 2009 - attended PPFA chapter education seminar with Len Lastuck of Kool Tack, This meeting was held at Superior Moulding.

    Spring 2010 - Small open house with vendor show at TC Moulding. Spent a few fun and educational hours listing to Richard Thompson President of International Moulding.

    Spring 2010 - Visit to Tru Vue Factory courtesy TC Moulding.

    Spring 2010 - PPFA chapter meeting with a day of education.

    Coming August 2010 - Larson Juhl Open house with Vendors show and education with Ken Baur

    In addition, every couple of months we meet for education with a Local Social Media Group (#WSMG) and every couple of months we attend the larger Social Media Breakfast Group (#SMBMSP )

    All of these events involved no significant travel.
    All these events were free or had a very small fee attached.
    Because of low cost I was able to have my staff take in some of the events.
    All of these events provided social and networking opportunities. (This is the fun part. If you not having a bit a fun you should stay home)

    The thing about trade shows is this: If I have significant travel expense I will arrive with high expectations. Our larger Vendors have even more expenses and therefore they will also arrive with high expectations.

    If you can't do a really good job then it would be better not to do it at all.

  48. etlock

    etlock CGF, Certified Grumble Framer


    Good stuff Doug, I hope we are all listening and thinking about Robs' questions and your venue suggestions. There are solutions to these issues and if the industry players put their collective heads together we can solve these issues. Why not us, don't we pay the bills? Us and Warren B. that is !

  49. janetj1968

    janetj1968 PFG, Picture Framing God

    I'd say "What Trade Show?"

    I just can't believe there would be one, without that support.

    But a traveling one?? That's another idea.

    I've always thought it would be a cool thing to have educators and vendors travel to our supplier's locations (the ones that offer delivery) and offer classes and demonstrations. They could determine where to nest by having a registration. If its not full enough, put it off a season. If it overloads, do it twice a year. Zero expense if it doesn't fly at each location....plenty of interested parties if it does.

    We all know the customer base of our major suppliers combined is probably many many times greater than the number of framers to ever attended a single trade show.

    I'd drive to see Bainbridge and Crescent or Tru-Vue and all major suppliers at RMD in a heartbeat.
  50. Jim Miller

    Jim Miller SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Most of us do that at every opportunity.
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