An estimated 2,500 to 3,000 people came to the Rome Area Chamber of Commerce’s 37th annual Rome Home Show this past weekend, where almost every space available inside and outside was sold out.
In estimating attendance, chamber President William K. Guglielmo said: "It’s very difficult to tell since we haven’t charged a fee since our 30th event." The chamber held the event at Kennedy Arena after losing the use of the recently-closed New York State Armory on Black River Boulevard, which had been the historic home of the event.
There were 106 booths available inside the arena and four more outside, of which the chamber sold space in 98 and used the rest of the space to promote itself and its 100th anniversary. Last year, the event hosted 84 vendors with space for up to 90. Guglielmo said it was "a combination" of factors that helped boost exhibitor attendance this year — the new site, the fact that all exhibitors were on the same floor, that the price of a booth remained unchanged from last year and that the chamber made a big push in publicizing the event for its 100th anniversary.
Guglielmo said feedback was overwhelmingly positive from vendors, "many of whom were delighted with the facilities," especially the "well-lit, spacious aisles." The chamber, he noted, will review the vendor survey for more data and adjust the event accordingly.
As for his take on the new location, Guglielmo praised the city for its involvement. "The city has always been a partner, this year more so because it owns the arena. It was great to have the city’s departments exhibiting and helping make sure the show worked, such as the Electrical Department making sure everything was wired right."
Looking forward to the 2013 show, Guglielmo said the initial plan will be to set up at the arena again. One of the best features, he said, was the parking. Where at the armory there was only enough parking for vendors, Kennedy has over 150 spots for vendors and customers. "We were thrilled that parking worked out as well as it did," he said. "We didn’t know whether there would be enough room to accommodate the exhibitors and customers."
In past years, the show has included a shuttle service to help with the parking issue. "We may consider that again, based upon surveys and other feedback we receive," said Guglielmo, who noted that the chamber did not have a shuttle for the 2011 show.
Guglielmo thanked the four show committee members, who all take time from their own businesses to help plan and execute the event. Laurie Fusco chaired the committee for a seventh time, and members Roberta Cavano, John Mazzaferro and Ed House also shared the workload.
Carol Hamlin Buczek, owner of the Hinkley-based Tours By Design called it "a wonderful show. It was my second show." She said both have been "really beneficial, great exposure," and she was happy to return for a second year. She said visitors and vendors alike were complimentary of the amount of room available. "The crowds were great," she said, and the sound system was better than at the armory. And what makes a successful booth? Buczek said the key is to convey the message of the business. For her, the tour bus business made use of photos of destinations and colorful displays, with stuffed bears and moose, a plastic motor coach bus and other props that help her "keep it fun." Looking toward 2013, she said she will "definitely" be back.
Guglielmo said the event continues to be important to the Rome area besides giving businesses more exposure and more visibility, "ecause any sales there or in the future preserves jobs, creates new jobs and creates sales tax money that helps the city and county meet their sales tax obligations and lessens the need for major property tax increases."
The event’s three winners of Outstanding Booth honors, as chosen by the committee: Delta Plumbing and Building Supplies, Joe Tahan’s Furniture and Tours By Design.