Trade shows bring commerce to you

🕔Sep 22, 2005

Where can you see a closed circuit digital security camera with up to four weeks storage on a hard drive, convince your spouse now is the time to buy a hot tub or plasma TV and sign up for a new career in instrumentation? At 10 different trade shows across this region.

Since the first Worlds Fair, in Chicago in 1893, trade shows have been bringing people together for a combination of science and commerce, entertainment and education.

Back in 1893, Americans got their first taste of hamburgers, Juicy Fruit gum and Cracker Jack. Crowds were awed by the first elevated railway, a new invention called The Ferris Wheel, and a moving sidewalk. Precursors to the fax machine and movie projector were also on display.

While you won’t find a Ferris wheel at any the trade shows scheduled for the northwest this spring, new technology is always on offer.

Charlie Graydon of Graydon Securites/ICI Telecom (Prince George and Terrace) says trade shows are an ideal venue to bring out new products and specialty items, like the closed circuit security system. The merchant wanting to check out what Camera 12 recorded on a particular day last month at 8 a.m. can look at the archives on one hard drive, rather than sorting through dozens of VHS tapes.

“We’re not really a retail business, but trade shows do give us a chance to get out into the community, see customers we haven’t seen for a while, and show some of our systems,” Graydon says.

Gord McConnell of Sight & Sound in Terrace likes trade shows for the opportunity to demonstrate technology, where the people can see all the applications linked together, from the digital camera to the printer.

He enjoys the fact that couples and whole families come to a trade show, something that doesn’t happen often in the store. “Especially if one person is interested in buying a big screen TV, and the other isn’t.” Although the company rarely makes a sale at a show, the staffers can demonstrate the system, answer any questions, and talk about details. The potential customers often come in to the store later for the purchase after they’ve made an informed decision.

Ron Gowe of Twilight Spas appreciates the exposure of up to 5,000 people over three days the Terrace Trade show offers. “Large numbers of people, who wouldn’t normally come into the store, view the hot tubs in operation.” He also likes the fact the product is seen by the whole family, and says these are the reasons trade shows, home shows, and fairs are a big part of the hot tub industry.

What about lugging all that equipment around the northern half of the province before and after the show? Gowe laughs, “After nine years, logistically speaking, I’ve got it down pat.”

McConnell recalls the early trade shows he set up in the old Civic Building in Terrace, where all that was supplied was a masking tape border on the floor, and everything else had to be brought in and built.

Back when Sight & Sound sold reel-to-reel tapes and 45s, there was a lot of imagination in the booths built from scratch. “It’s easier now,” he says, though still fairly expensive in terms of manpower, setting up and tearing down the booth, and transportation. But the ability to talk one on one with so many people is a unique marketing opportunity—one he hasn’t missed in 40 years.

Graydon is a fan as well, having been in the Terrace trade show every year since 1982, and Prince George and Smithers every two or three years.

Prince George, as a larger city, often has specialty trade shows aimed at one segment of the population. The Prince George Construction Society is hosting a trade show geared to high school students interested in the trades. Organizer Ray Hanson says, “There’s a shortage of trades people, which will grow as Baby Boomers retire,” especially in fields such as millwrighting.

The show is open to the public, and geared to young adults, to give them and employers the toolkit to set up apprenticeships, and explore career areas like plumbing, electrical, automotive, welding and the growing field of instrumentation.

Trade shows in the northwest

New Aiyansh Annual Trade Show
Early April (dates unconfirmed)

Council of Forest Industries Convention and Trade Show, Prince George
April 14-15

Smithers Trade Show
April 15-17

Terrace Trade Show
April 23-25

Prince George Construction Association Trade Show and Jobs Fair
April 22-23

Burns Lake Trade Show
April 22-23

Northern BC Home Garden & Leisure Show, Prince George
April 29-May 1

BC Recreation and Parks Association Symposium, Prince George
May 12-14

Vanderhoof Trade Show
May 13-15

Prince Rupert Trade Show
May 13-15

Discover Houston Trade Show
Sept. 9-10