Business “blooming” at FW Home and Garden Show

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – The 42nd annual Fort Wayne Home and Garden Show is in the books, and the vendors and event producers are very pleased with the result. They said it was one of the most successful years they’ve had in the more than four decades of the show.

The show has called the Memorial Coliseum home for more than forty years. Despite winter’s wrath, more than 40,000 people packed the place.

“Most people around Fort Wayne don’t let the snow bother them too much,” show producer Karen Tejera said.

More than 650 exhibits offered everything one can think of when it comes to home and garden. Vendors stayed very busy throughout the four-day event. They said shows like this one bring in great business, which is something they’re starting to get used to. Thanks to the improving economy during the last few years, vendors said business has truly been “blooming.”

“Fort Wayne has come together in the last 6-12 months here dramatically. Our call volume is way, way up. We’re adding people to our staff. Our call volume is up about 700% from last year, so appointments and just customers alone are really starting to come together all at the same time,” Bryan Bohnke, owner of the Fort Wayne Budget Blinds franchise, said.

“In the past year, past two years, I think people are definitely starting to feel ready to buy. I think they’re a little bit tired of saving and penny-pinching. We’re certainly getting a lot more people willing to buy and willing to spend money and put these fine products on their houses,” Zack Weiss with Trim-A-Seal of Indiana said. “Last year was our biggest year yet.”

“In the last three years, we’ve set records every year. We’ve been in business 32 years, so we had a long spell and now it’s just great,” Kelly and Lisa Kohne, owners of Kelly’s Furniture Service, said.

“We’ve seen a lot in the last couple of years of people redoing patios, building sunrooms and sunporches, and that then brings business in for furniture. We’ve been very pleased and so has the bank,” Chris Highlen with Dar’s Porch and Patio said.

“I started noticing it last year. People were spending more money on their projects and homes and this year, it’s just increased. People are really serious about adding on to their homes, redoing their kitchens, their bathrooms, flooring, all that kind of stuff,” Tejera said.

Vendors said the increase in business is all thanks to one thing in particular.

“The economy is picking up. People are out buying,” Highlen said.

“I think the economy seems like it’s loosening up a bit. We’ve been in the show for 36 years and this year, I’ve talked to other exhibitors as well, it seems like people are actually getting ready to start that project they’ve been planning for years,” Scott Patton, owner of Indiana Warm Floors, said.

“When the economy was bad, we were so slow. Now, we’ve added employees so that has been awesome for everybody.  So, we’ve doubled our workforce,” the Kohnes said.

Tejera said the show also provides a chance for smaller companies to get their name out there.

“It’s a great way for a lot of these smaller companies that are here, who may not advertise any other time of the year, to come out here where you can talk to them and get their expert opinions. Everything is all in one place, so you don’t have to go driving around trying to find them.”

Using the extra money to improve your home is something organizers said just makes sense.

“Your home is your best investment that you will probably make in your whole life. It’s the most expensive. You have cars, they depreciate. Well, homes, hey should appreciate,” Tejera said.

“The home is still their kingdom. It’s still their investment. It’s what makes them different from all their neighbors, and the Joneses. Their home is their palace and that’s why companies like ours really help to make it their special place,” Bohnke said.

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