SOMERSET, NJ–This year’s New Jersey Fall Home Show, a free two-day event produced by American Consumer Shows (ACS), opened on September 19 with only 77 booths inside a small section of the Garden State Exhibit Center.

ACS, a show promoter based in Long Island, organizes about 65-70 shows, including bridal shows, “nationwide” every year, Vice President of Finance, Michele M. Ryder, told New Brunswick Today during a break from asking people how they heard about the two-day event. 

“We promote shows all over the country and we’ve been here at the [Garden State Exhibit Center] at least nine to ten years; and people come back every year. I think they like coming and finding what they need all under one roof,” Ryder said.

She noted that, at one time, her company only held shows in the Northeast.

The event ran from 10am-8pm on Saturday, September 19, and from 10am-6pm the following day. Both admission and parking were free.

Ryder said ACS holds just one home show a year in Somerset adding that the company “used to do two” at the exhibit center.

At one time the show was promoted as a “Home and Garden Expo,” but Ryder says ACS found the garden part didn’t work for them.

This fall, ACS is planning another home show, set for November 7-8 in Edison’s New Jersey Convention & Exposition Center, located in the Raritan Center office park.

Asked if the shows were always free to the public, Ryder told NBT that they have been since “2008, when the economy tanked.”

“We find it to be easier on the exhibitor, [for the public] to not have to pay,” says Ryder, who noted that “We can [as an alternative] do coupons and that kind of stuff.”

Told that an attendee from Piscataway, who said he spent only about 10-minutes visiting the show, sounded disappointed it wasn’t larger this year, Ryder told NBT: “It is a little smaller, can’t explain that really.”

Seeming to raise a question, she said: “It’s the economy, I don’t know.”

Asked by NBToday if the current show is the companies smallest to date, in Somerset, Ryder said she didn’t know because she “was not in floor plans.”

The Piscataway resident, Tom Lewis, told NBToday he’s been going to the show for years’.

“It’s getting worse … What’s a financial planner have to do with a home show?” he asked.

“People come here to find contractors … there is not many of them in there. Everything is solar power, and financial planners,” said Lewis.

But, sales rep Jeremy Caballero, of Nitetime Décor, an outdoor lighting outfit, and swimming pool/billiard table installation company based in Freehold, said the show was typically slow in the morning and would pick up as the day progressed.

“Its smaller vendor wise – absolutely,” said Caballero explaining that the benefit of a smaller show was less competition among vendors in the same business category.

As examples, he cited the solar power and gutter guard business “there is always like 15 of them at any show.”

Certified Designer/Owner, Ben Rozenblat, with ShelfGenie of New Jersey, a franchise offering organizational solutions for existing cabinets by using high-quality shelves, told NBT: “There is a lot of effort and fees involved and also other costs involved to advertise and participate so there’s a certain commitment from businesses to be part of [home shows].”

Asked by NBT why many employees representing certain vendors at the show were aggressively soliciting attendees to get leads, he responded: “That just happens; it’s expected in many cases for people to ask questions.”

“We do have to ask questions,” Rozenblat said.

“Soliciting is probably not the right word. It’s probably more of questioning whether someone has a certain need and whether there may be a way to help them out.”

Ryder emailed NBT, on Monday following the show, in response to questions regarding attendance. 

“There was a solid, steady flow of consumers both days and many exhibitors were extremely pleased with the quality of the leads they received,” said Ryder without providing any comparisons to prior years.  

“Good show!” she added.

Dave is an award-winning business reporter who has authored over 200 articles for New Brunswick Today.