(Originally published 3.16.11 in BizBash Washington)
The Washington Home and Garden Show returned to the Washington Convention Center on Friday for three days of exhibition by local landscapers, florists, home furnishing, appliance, and home improvement companies. The 51st annual event experienced a 10 percent increase in exhibitors, with 250 companies represented across the floor, as well as a 5 percent increase in attendance, reaching nearly 23,000 people.
“We don’t sell to the big manufacturers, but like the mom-and-pop operations and franchisees,” said show director Tom Stafford, who has worked on the event for 35 years. “We sell to local business, which promotes business within the community, and [our show] fluctuates with the economy. So being up this year is a result of the [current] economic situation.”
In addition to the exhibitors with booths, 12 landscape companies—two more than in 2010—brought the outdoors inside with recreations of gardens that included live fountains, stone paths, and various flowers. To accommodate the additional exhibitors, the event footprint expanded from last year by 20 percent to nearly 100,000 square feet. Stafford plans to expand the show floor again next year as a result of the positive feedback from exhibitors.
Organizers worked with marketing firm Williams Whittle to realign its advertising and event promotion to target women as opposed to men, a direct response to a shift in who makes financial decisions in regard to the home, Stafford said. “[Women] are the ones pointing out ‘Honey we need to this or that,’” said Stafford. “They are the decision makers and the guiding light for this show.”
The agency once again placed advertisements throughout the local media to promote the show. However, the television and radio shows during which the ads ran and the sections of the newspaper changed from sports sections and shock-jock-type shows to the food and living areas where women are the more predominant consumers.
In addition to the exhibitors on the show floor, the event had a series of seminars every hour on the hour at its main stage, offering consumers tips on topics like flower arranging and do-it-yourself home improvements.