We’ve been to a few different log home shows now, and the consensus is this:
Log home shows are primarily for the homeowner who is just beginning the process of deciding whether or not to build or buy a log home.
That’s not a bad thing… it’s just to say that if you’re farther along in the process (like us), you will find fewer things of interest to you.
Here’s what I mean…
What We’ve Done:
- We’ve already picked out our land.
- We’ve already decided on our builder.
- We’ve already determined the placement of our home’s interior and exterior features in a set of blueprints.
What We Still Need To Do:
- We are still trying to decide on a contractor.
- We are still trying to choose the best bank to go with.
- We are still fine-tuning the types of windows, doors, roof, hardwood floors, tile flooring & showers, countertops, bathroom & kitchen cabinetry, garage doors, and exterior stains.
We recently attended the Log & Timber Home Show in Nashville. What follows below is what we hoped to see, and what we actually saw at this log home show.
What We Saw At The Show
#1 We saw log home builder after log home builder after log home builder. Of course, that’s a good thing. At a log home show you want to see as many reps as possible from as many different companies. There were more “log home package” providers at the show than there were “handcrafters”, but that probably reflects the fact that more people choose a log home package than a handcrafted home.
#2 Lots and lots of one-on-one time with prospective log home owners and the log home experts. Each log home company had their own little “meeting area” for their guests. There were lots of reps on hand from each company, and lots of people were taking advantage of the free Question & Answer session. Very valuable!
#3 Each vendor at the show seemed to have a bunch of reps on hand. This is a good thing, because you didn’t have to wait long to get your questions answered.
#4 The vendor displays at this show were to die for! They were very fancy, and log-homey, and some were interactive and/or entertaining. Even the sign-in procedure at this event was high-tech and cutting edge! They had about a dozen computer terminals outside the showroom where you entered your personal info and the printer would spit out a nametag and a handful of personal business cards that you could share with vendors you wanted more info from.
The downside: 12 computers were not enough to accommodate the masses which arrived at key times throughout the day. This area got very crowded and you could tell that people were becoming frustrated. They just wanted to get inside to the show, but many felt like they had to do this. (It was only optional. We didn’t care about the nametag or the “free business cards”, so we didn’t do it.) And whenever you get a bunch of people who aren’t that comfortable around computers together… you’re going to see some irritated people. (Like the computer-savvy ones who just want their turn & who could complete the process in 3 minutes, rather than 15!)
#5 Folks from the Log & Timber Home Authority (who put on the show) were there in full force. They were handing out free samples of their magazine — while offering specials on subscriptions. They also had a “bookstore” right in the center of the show. This was probably the most popular spot in the showroom — it was always packed! (It also provided a great place to “meet up” if two of you wanted to go separate ways.) They had lots of great information & materials regarding log homes that you could purchase on the spot in their bookstore.
#6 Everyone there — from the vendors, to the show hosts, to the attendees themselves seemed to be having a good time. Except for those waiting in line at the registration computers, everyone seemed to be happy and smiling and happy to be there. For the most part, there wasn’t a lot of hustle & bustle. Everything was pretty low-key and quiet.
What We Hoped To See At The Show
#1 We had hoped to see more building contractors. There was only one “contractor” per se — that we saw. And we chatted with him for a bit, but he was way over-booked already. (Hint, hint contractors: You could probably boost your business at these shows! I know that we were hoping to see more contractors from the local area.)
#2 Overall, the show was much smaller than we had envisioned. I couldn’t believe it all fit into one medium-sized showroom! As an example, the Nashville Home & Redecorating Show which was held in that same convention center featured displays in all the hallways leading into the showroom itself, plus lots of rooms on the 2nd level, and there were many more vendors. Of course, that’s to be expected, because many more people have “traditional” homes than log homes, but still… you always hope to be “wowed” at a show and you like to have “more vendors than you have time to visit”.
This was a 3-day show, and your $15 admission got you into all 3 days. But I can’t imagine wanting/needing to go back a second day. But then again, we’re farther along in the process than most. We pretty much saw everything there was to see in about 30 minutes. We actually had to force ourselves to try & find another vendor to chat with — just to get the most out of this show. Such is why I say these shows are more for “beginners” — those who are in the process of making the most basic decisions. For them, this show was great!
#3 We were also surprised by how little advertising was done for this show. It seems the Nashville Home & Redecorating Show got much more press. Same with a “competing” show going on this same weekend at the Nashville Fairgrounds (the 2007 Home Show, sponsored by the Home Builders Association of Middle Tennessee)… I heard about that one every time I turned around!
So, “Keepsake Joe” (as I call him) wasn’t there but his co-workers were. They were also nice, but it didn’t seem like there were as many “cool” things on display this time. We were still impressed with the items on hand though. In fact, we were prepared to buy something on the spot that day from Keepsake Imports (like a huge wagon wheel bench), but at the last minute we decided to wait until later to buy — when our home is closer to finished.
#5 One vendor that we were pleasantly surprised to see at the show was The Great Northern Door Company. Like I mentioned above, we are currently deciding things like doors, cabinetry, sizes & styles of windows, which type of roof to go with, and garage doors.
So those are the types of vendors I would’ve liked to see at this show. There weren’t many, that’s for sure. But this company knocked us off our feet.
#6 Overall, I’d say this show was good (if not great for beginners), but it was missing one very important thing for everyone. That is: the freebie! Truth be told, they attempted to step it up a notch in this area — with the “free business cards” that you could hand out to the vendors, the free Log Home Living magazines & subscription discounts. But there were no door prizes, no drawings, and not many vendors had fun freebies on hand. It’s selfish, I know. But everyone likes (and expects) to get lots of fun novelty items at conventions & trade shows!
At first, I didn’t get the connection between “Honest Abe” and “stressed out Bob”… but then I realized that the stress balls go along with this ad for Sashco’s Start Right program that was in the event program:
UPDATE: From Country’s Best Log Homes (2007 Annual Buyers Guide):
“Our studies show that Country’s Best readers travel an average of 180 miles to visit at least one log home show each year.”
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