Foundation to Roof
The Western Massachusetts Home & Garden Show may last only four days each March, but Lori Loughlin says vendors reap the benefits all year long.
“The exposure at the show is tremendous,” said Loughlin, manager of Frank Webb Home in Springfield. “It pays for itself within the first week after the show closes. In May, June, July, people are coming in saying, ‘I was at the home show, and I saw this showerhead.’ They come back six months after and want to buy something they saw there. It’s nice.”
Loughlin, who serves as the event’s deputy chair for 2019, said her company, the showroom division of F.W. Webb, offers such a wide variety of products and services that it’s a no-brainer to participate in the show, which, in its 65th year, will feature more than 350 vendors displaying at more than 700 booths.
“You’ll find landscaping, appliances, hot tubs, bathrooms … you can go from foundation to roof and everything in between,” she said.
The Home & Garden Show, slated for March 28-31, is produced by the Home Builders & Remodelers Assoc. of Western Massachusetts (HBRAWM), whose 500-strong membership reflects the variety on the show floor, with roughly 90 categories on display from builders, remodelers, kitchen and bath specialists, landscapers, painters, roofers, financial institutions, pool companies, and more.
“We can give you a snapshot of what’s out there, of what’s new,” said Andy Crane, HBRAWM president. “The key word is local. Almost every business in there is local; these are the people who managed to stay in business through the ups and downs of the economy, and they’re there to show their wares.”
“The key word is local. Almost every business in there is local; these are the people who managed to stay in business through the ups and downs of the economy, and they’re there to show their wares.”
Crane said 2019 has been one of the show’s better years, with fewer than a dozen booths left to sell two weeks before the event was set to begin. In short, it remains the association’s signature showcase.
“People are going to see companies and meet owners that they probably wouldn’t be exposed to by word of mouth,” Loughlin said. “I can’t believe how many companies are involved in this home show. It’s huge. And we get such a rebound on this.”
While recognizing the show’s potential to connect businesses with homeowners, she said the cross-promotion that goes on is just as valuable as the visitors who walk through the door.
“The networking between companies has been great for our company,” she told BusinessWest. “We tie in with the tile people and kitchen-design people, who send people here to find sinks. It’s nice to create relationships with other vendors.”
Something for Everyone
The home show started as a way to generate revenue to support the association, but it also provides member companies with a chance to market to an audience — and a big one, with around 20,000 visitors over the four days in a typical year — that might not otherwise see their name. Conversely, it gives attendees, many of whom simply come to the show for fun, a host of concrete (or hardwood, or tile, or whatever) ideas for home improvement.
The exhibitors run the gamut from inspection services to security and alarm systems; Internet and communications to moving and storage; duct cleaning to pianos and organs. Meanwhile, show attendees fall into one of several categories, the association notes, including:
• People planning to buy or build a new home, who may visit with builders, real-estate agents, financial institutions, and sellers of component products, such as hardwood flooring, tile, and appliances;
• People planning to remodel or renovate, who may want to check in with all of the above, plus vendors of replacement components such as windows and doors, as well as appliances, wall treatments, and home furnishings;
• Yard and garden enthusiasts, who tend to be interested in lawn and landscaping services; wall, walk, and edging components and materials; and trees, shrubs, flowers, and seeds;
• Lifestyle-conscious individuals, who like to check out trendy, high-tech, or time-saving products; home furnishings; and products focused on self-improvement, fitness, and health;
• Committed renters, who have no plans to own a house, but may be interested in space-conservation and space-utilization products, as well as home furnishings;
• Impulse buyers, who flock to vendors of home décor, arts and crafts, cooking and baking products, jewelry, and personal goods; and
• Those who attend the show purely for fun, who may arrive without an agenda but often develop ideas for future purchases and home products. “More than any other group,” according to the association, “these people are the ones who have come to rely upon our show on an annual basis and who perhaps have the greatest impact upon our vendors.”
Indeed, Crane told BusinessWest, “it’s not just about coming to the show and spending money with the vendors, even though we hope that’s the case. It really is a social event. That’s the mindset — it’s a nice evening out, and people walk out of the show with ideas of their home.”
Once again, visitors will see the LIXIL Beauty in Motion 49-foot mobile showroom in the Young Building, showcasing an array of American Standard, DXV, and Grohe kitchen and bath products.
“We have a mobile showcase with active and working plumbing fixtures, the newest and greatest features in plumbing, from toilets to water-saving showerheads,” Crane noted.
Also in the Young Building, chefs from across the Pioneer Valley will create some of the signature dishes they serve at their restaurants. Visitors can see how they prepare some of their favorite dishes and perhaps ask how to tailor those dishes to fit their own family’s taste. This popular area, hosted by WMAS Radio, will also include cooking seminars every day of the show.
“It’s not just about coming to the show and spending money with the vendors, even though we hope that’s the case. It really is a social event.”
The Young Building will also be home to several kids’ and family activities, from the Melha Shriners clowns to Thousand Cranes Studio, which will be on hand to show off the creative talent of their students, as well as conduct hands-on activities with show attendees. Other attractions will include live butterflies from Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory & Gardens, taking pictures on one of the go-karts from Pioneer Valley Indoor Karting, science experiments at the Rolling Acres Outdoor & Science Summer Camp, a Springfield Thunderbirds booth, face painting, and Looney Tunes characters from Six Flags New England. On Saturday and Sunday, the West Springfield Police Department will be on hand to fingerprint children and offer safety tips, and the Chesterfield Fire Department will give out hats and coloring books.
“There are a lot of different things to do, so you don’t have to come only for a siding or roofing job,” Crane said. “You can go have a nice, inexpensive time in a warm, dry facility.”
Business and Pleasure
In addition to Loughlin, Gisele Gilpatrick of Pro-Tech Waterproofing in Chicopee will serve as Home Show chair, while other committee members include Lisa Grenier of Market Mentors, Joe Mole’ of C.J. Carpentry, Josh Nolan of Fuel Services, Tom Silva of Triple S Construction, and Brian Zippin of Contractors Home Appliances. All are ramping up for what most in the home-improvement world say looks to be a strong year (see related story, page 24).
“This year, as every other year, the home show is a spring kickoff to the building season,” Crane said. “It’s the perfect time of year when people are thinking about projects both inside and outside the house. The show gets their minds moving a little bit.”
Again, though, he stressed that show organizers also want people to have fun.
“Take your wife out to dinner and swing by the home show, or call your brother or your neighbor. You can get out of the house and look at 700-something booths with different products — maybe something you’ve dreamed about.”
This year’s show hours are Thursday and Friday, March 28-29, 1-9 p.m.; Saturday, March 30, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and Sunday, March 31, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. General admission is $10 for adults, and children under 12 are admitted free. Discount coupons are available at www.westernmasshomeshow.com. Veterans and active military with ID receive free admission on Thursday only.
Joseph Bednar can be reached at [email protected]