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Shows, exhibits are slowly disappearing

The Woodworking Shows, based out of Bristol, R.I., is one survivor that will continue with 24 events scheduled in 2010

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Woodworking shows are the latest facet of the industry to feel the impact of the country's recession. TSI Expos of Claremont, N.C., has gone out of business after 24 years of high-profile events. The Florida Industrial Woodworking Expo, scheduled for October in Orlando, Fla., and the Midwest Industrial Woodworking Expo scheduled for November in Indianapolis, were cancelled. Venues were informed by show management that TSI Expos was no longer in business. Officials at TSI Expos did not return repeated phone calls seeking comment.

TSI Expos managed four to five trade shows annually, all focusing on the industrial woodworking industry. In addition to the Capitol Expo, events were also held in Greensboro, N.C.; Hartford, Conn.; Los Angeles, Orlando, Edison, N.J.; Fredericksburg, Va.; Tacoma, Wash., and Indianapolis.

The WoodWorks Shows, based in New Hope, Pa., which added the element of expert demonstrations to go along with exhibitors, also called it quits.

"The WoodWorks Shows were different from other shows in that the educational content and local community that was represented made these shows unique, giving more value to attendees. It was more like what I thought a woodworking show should be all about and I am sad that it was not able to continue," says Paul Schürch, of Schürch Woodwork in Santa Barbara, Calif.

The country's two largest industrial woodworking shows, IWF in Atlanta and the AWFS fair in Las Vegas, remain in business. However, there is only one survivor among the smaller shows - The Woodworking Shows based in Bristol, R.I.

"We're doing great," says Joe Strong, one of the owners of The Woodworking Shows. "We had more exhibitors last year and we had more attendees than the year before. I have almost twice as many educational [seminars] on the floor as I had last year ... We're going to have a library section with authors signing books, all sorts of great things are going on."

There are 24 Woodworking Shows scheduled for 2010 and Strong credits the shows' success to a change in ownership.

"Last year was our first full year having full control ... We were happy with it and plan on doing even better with it this year," he says. "We're woodworkers, we like the shows. When we bought the shows, there wasn't a single woodworker in the office and there was no interest other than collecting a paycheck. I was an exhibitor for 25 years before we purchased the shows. We purchased it with other woodworkers who wanted to do it."

Because of the lean times, exhibitors are having difficulty selling expensive machinery at woodworking shows, according to Strong. Therefore, there is more of an emphasis on items with a lower price point.

"It's not a time for selling heavy-duty table saws. [Attendees] don't want that right now; they don't have the money for a $3,000 table saw. They have money for sanders and sandpaper, glue and all the other stuff we supply, too. We have it all, but the [exhibitors] who are doing well have items that are $300 or less. But that was 2009; I don't know what is going to happen in 2010."

Contact: The Woodworking Shows, P.O. Box 1094, 24 Broadcommon Road, Bristol, RI 02809. Tel: 800-826-8257.

This article originally appeared in the November 2009 issue.

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