Turnout for the 18th annual Philadelphia Invitational Furniture Show at its new location met expectations and exceeded attendance numbers from 2011.
The show, held March 24-25 at the 23rd Street Armory, was moved this year from the Philadelphia Cruise Ship Terminal. It offers custom furniture and home accessories, and generally attracts exhibitors and attendees from the Mid-Atlantic region, primarily the Philadelphia suburbs.
Show director Josh Markel says there were about 1,800 attendees, an increase of about 5 percent from last year. The number of exhibitors was down slightly, from 67 to 52. He noticed that exhibitors who were particularly successful also did well at past shows.
Whether attendance was up because of the new location or a rebounding economy is tough to tell. The new location drew an affluent, walk-in crowd from the Center City district. Also, those who purchased items tended to go for larger furniture pieces rather than accessories. Markel adds that while consumers seemingly had more disposable income, he felt that exhibitors were still feeling the impact of the economy as many had purchased smaller booth sizes compared to previous shows.
John Landis, principal of John Landis Cabinetworks in Ivyland, Pa., has exhibited at 17 Philadelphia shows. He reported lower sales, but promising leads.
“The new venue was great. A lot of us were worried about the logistics of the move-in and move-out, but it actually went very smoothly. It’s small, but we filled it really nicely and it was pretty. I think having the show downtown made it a lot easier for people to attend versus the old site,” says Landis.
“Attendance seemed to be up from last year. The crowd was good and seemed to be a buying crowd. There were, of course, a few people kicking tires who wanted to see what it was all about, but there were others who came specifically to buy and shop for furniture. We had a great time and that’s just what we’d expect from going.”
Landis says he was surprised to learn that his biggest sale was from a customer in Washington D.C., a credit to the show’s advertising efforts.
“We did a lot more advertising this year because we wanted to make sure people knew about the new venue, so we reached out to public radio and newspapers, and with focused advertising in newsletters through various organizations,” says Markel.
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This article originally appeared in the May 2012 issue.