Those not working on a modeling project for the competition are working on some aspect of the show, and Brianna is doing her best to stay after them and keep them in line to make sure everything is ready to go on September 21.
Through Cliff Bullock’s efforts this year’s show will undoubtedly have the most sponsors ever, and probably the largest number of auction and raffle prizes, including a couple of compressor and airbrush packages from our friends at Iwata-Medea. But there will be one thing missing this year, for the first time in a while – VENDORS.
Since last year’s show, a search has been ongoing for new vendors. At first the idea was to try and find someone to fill the temporary gap being left by the absence of John’s Models, as he celebrates his retirement with a hike down the Appalachian Trail. Then we got the news that a couple of the other vendors from last year have closed up shop. Over the past 12 years, those behind the show have brought in several big time vendors. People like CRM Hobbies from St. Louis, Sprue Brothers out of Kansas City, Tiger Model Designs from Florida, Top Shelf Models of Owasso, Oklahoma and several others.
So far the search has failed to bear any fruit. Those running the show have done all they can to find new vendors, but they just are not out there. Shops and individual vendors have fallen victim to the still sluggish economy and to the ever-fluctuating price of gas to travel to shows. However, there is more to the loss of vendors than just the economy. Modelers have to carry the burden for these losses too, and through the years this has been evident at our shows.
We all look for the best deal, and that leads many of us to the internet and then to the mailbox as we place our orders with Hobby Link Japan, or Lucky Models, or any number of other vendors, both in the US and overseas. But we also have to consider how many of our vendors through the years have left our show without even breaking even. I realize we cannot all be expected to purchase multiple kits, tools, books and after market accessories from every vendor that comes to our show. We also cannot expect vendors to make a four to ten hour drive and then barely make enough to cover the cost of gasoline as they attend our show year after year.
One of our major problems is that, like it or not, location is everything and our location is not good. Oh, I do not mean the venue for the show, I can only recall one venue that I can say was less than adequate, I mean Little Rock itself. Those coming from beyond our borders do not perceive our home as an easy trip, except perhaps those in Memphis, Oklahoma City and Kansas City. Modelers and vendors from other towns with IPMS Organizations within an eight-hour drive of here have to spend a considerable part of their trek on two-lane state highways going through small towns and speed traps on their way. This never stopped me when I wanted to go to a model show, and I have attended plenty of shows over the years.
For our show to be successful, to continue to grow, we must find a way to bring in more modelers to our show. If we cannot do so then we will face this same problem every year. We have to find a way to change the view our fellow modelers and potential vendors look at the drive to our shows. Modelers come to shows to compete and see how their work stands up to that of other modelers, to measure their skills and efforts. Vendors come to shows to sell their wares and of course check out the competition and the entries. However, vendors also need to know there will be potential customers beyond their usual market to make trips to shows like ours worth their while. Bringing in modelers from outside of our club means increased revenue from show registrations and entry fees, the sale of raffle tickets, participation in the silent auctions, and from the tables sold to vendors and traders.
It is time for CASM to refocus our efforts from vendors to modelers. Each year those attending go away happy, people do not claim, “home cooking,” unfair judging or stacked categories. They praise the competition and the hospitality we provide. We need to find a way to let others know what other modelers have to say about our show and our club.
I wish this could have been about a possible fix; unfortunately, I have none to offer. This is going to take a team effort just like the contest does every year. This club did not grow from four original members to the near forty it has today because of one person’s efforts and we need to remember that as we try to find an answer to bringing in more entrants and modelers.