My last post was written as I was preparing to go to the Arlington Guitar Show. I’ve been home now almost a week and a half, so I’ve had time to look back and analyze the show. The short review: not such a good show.
There are several goals for the trip to the show: help my buddy set up and run his booth, look at cool guitars and amps for a couple or three days, eat some good food, and generally have a good time. “Doug the Bass Player” and I left out Friday morning primed and ready. Traveling with The Bass Player is always fun: he is easy to talk to, has some similar life experiences, and since he’s retired a couple of years (yes, he’s older than me!) he’s about the most low-key sort of guy you could want to be around. Since Booth Owner and His Helper weren’t going to arrive to unload and setup the booth until after 1 PM we had plenty of time for a nice drive to Arlington, make a lunch stop along the way, and relax. I am pleased to report this part of the trip was entirely successful!
Less successful was the show itself. The Dallas-Fort Worth area has suffered, economically speaking. We got The Owner’s trailer unloaded, got the booth setup, and opened for business, and then… we waited. And waited. And waited. Usually the Friday show day is slow anyway since there are only other dealers there, but this day was worse than usual. There were also a number of dealers noticeably absent who had large sales areas in previous years. It did not get better the rest of the weekend. Saturday started slow, too, and never picked up. Attendance was off, and of the people who came, most didn’t bother to bring their gear to sell or trade. Most didn’t even bring money. This left us with lots of time to visit, shop other booths, and wonder out loud what the heck happened to the people! We could look around the show and see every other dealer affected the same way: no one was doing much of anything. Sunday began and pretty much ended the same way. At the end of the day our sales were way off, and the nice lady taking signups for next year’s show didn’t have much to do, either.
A sign of the times? A bad economy? Hard to say, but other than the nice dinners we had Friday and Saturday night the show was fairly disappointing. I left the show with a single guitar price guide and a set of strings: the rest of the cash I brought left with me.
Was it worth it? Yes and no. The Booth Owner did manage to clearance out a lot of leftovers that never sells from his shop, and hanging out at a guitar show is always fun for all four of us. I saw a killer resonator guitar that I may go back and buy: a chrome-body Liberty for the frustrated blues man in me. However, seeing how slow things were raised questions for me personally about the strength of the local and national economy, as it did for the rest of our crew, placing next year’s show at risk, at least for us. At some level I wonder if our country is worse off than our leaders are letting on, and maybe we haven’t even bottomed out yet. It seems like the people with money are sitting on it, and the people with little money are suffering. Let’s hope our economy turns soon, or a lot more of us will be moving into the second category!