Home shows don't need big-name stars to draw DIY crowds

When the Minneapolis Home & Garden Show got its start 75 years ago, it featured beauty pageants, vaudeville acts and big-name stars -- Liberace, the Lennon Sisters, even Frank Sinatra.

The names in this year's show -- mostly HGTV hosts -- may not regularly appear in lights. (Although "Curb Appeal" host Sasha Andreev is currently onstage in the Guthrie's production of "Two Gentlemen of Verona.")

But show producers aren't worried about turnout. Even in tough economic times. Even without Liberace.

While home sales are slumping, home shows remain a hot ticket nationwide. What's more, window and door displays, landscaping services and seminars on bedroom makeovers have replaced bathing beauties and jugglers as the real stars of the show.

"There's still a little bit of celebrity stuff going on," said Bruce Evans, marketing manager for Marketplace Events, which produces several shows, including this weekend's show in Minneapolis. "But we've developed a product -- the show -- that's more relevant to the home, more relevant to the times."

Both vendors and potential visitors seem to be responding. Despite the economic downturn, Evans said that the show hasn't shrunk in size (it still takes up the entire convention center). And even though some exhibitors have dropped out or scaled back a bit, 250 new exhibitors have signed up this year. As for attendance? Ticket presales are strong and he expects do-it-yourselfers and people who are remodeling rather than moving to fill the floor.

"Now more than ever, people are considering their options, comparison shopping," he said. "What better place to do it than at a home show, where it's all under one roof?"

Author:  Connie Nelson


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This is an excellent show. There were lines of people at my checkout counter each day. We love to do this show. This was our best show ever - and we participate in approximately 15 shows a year.
Vicki Stobbe, Main Street Company

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