the drive back from the Minneapolis-St. Paul Military Relic Show, I had
plenty of time to think about the hobby and about shows in general.
Show promoters struggle to coordinate relic and military vehicle shows
and are faced by a customer base who is going through a change in their
once was a day I couldn't drive past an antique shop without stopping,
no matter how late I was for something. It has been four years,
however, since I have set foot in an antique store. Why? I do all my
buying and hunting online. My network of people who "know what I like"
is connected to me via cell phone and e-mail. Now, when I stop the car,
it is for a quality rest room or some chicken strips.
Show promoters are up against the same
competition. Their struggle is to deliver customers to a room full of
dealers. Is there a secret formula for a successful show?
Now mind you, some shows,
like the MAX Show, the Show of Shows or the MVPA National Conventional,
have a momentum grounded in consistency and legend. The staying power
of these is based, in part, on their reputation and consistencies.
However, two smaller shows without the national reputations of those
larger shows seem to have "cracked the code."
First, I have to say that Bob Johnson has figured
out how to run a successful show. I have been going to Battlefield Shows since I was 18 years old. Every time I go, the dealer tables are full (all the way through Sunday afternoon!) and the aisles
full of public.
The other — and now I am sounding provincial because this show is in the upper Midwest as well — is the Iola Military Vehicle Show. I can attest, firsthand, that Iola
in the middle of nowhere! How could any show flourish that is at least 30 miles from the nearest four-lane road?
The fundamental element that makes both the Battlefield Show
the Twin Cities metro and the Iola
Military Vehicle Show
in the Wisconsin version of the "outback" is "piggy-backing." Granted,
that term in the untamed Wisconsin woodlands might have different
meanings, but I am talking about offering a multitude of entertainment
choices to the customer.
In the Twin Cities, the relic show
takes place on the State Fairgrounds at the same time as a huge antique
show and similar-sized gun show. At Iola, the MV show occurs
concurrently with a tractor show, a gun show and radio-controlled
airplane "ballets." In both cases, the collector can spend the whole
day with entertainment opportunities for the whole family. He or she
doesn't need to sneak off in the early morning to go to the show and
get home before noon so that some "family time" can also occur.
piggy-back formula is also good for the customer: Plenty to do, food is
there and the chance of spouse or kids becoming bored is minimized. The
formula is good for dealers: plenty of potential customers who haven't
seen your stock show after show (but you better take the time to price
your stuff...It's a different generation and they aren't going to put
up with your old-school method of throwing unpriced items on your
To use that corporate-speak that drove me to the hills of Missouri...it's time to offer multiple platforms to monetize your business, people
(man how I hate that corporate speak!). In other words, the competition
for leisure time is greater than ever. If you want people to come to
shows, think in terms of the "total weekend experience" for the whole
family. Give them customers, and the dealers will come.
Keep finding the good stuff,
Vehicles and Military Trader