May 28, 2006

Dear Members and Exhibitors,

Here it is Memorial Day weekend and I’m working as usual. No rest for the wicked but I hope you are having a fine family time and are remembering our deployed and fallen who have given some or all for continuous Freedom.

Our first Monticello, New York Arms Fair this past May 20 & 21 is now history and if you had asked me right up to Thursday prior, I would have called it our first and last.

Continuing to the table set-up the show was a struggle. When Dave and I arrived on Thursday afternoon, we spent four hours rearranging tables because we were working with the wrong measurements when we put the layout on paper. As in many tasks we all encounter, we were taking one step forward and two in reverse.

When Friday morning arrived, other than the rain which we had no control over, everything seemed to mellow out. The exhibitor set-up went extremely well, the breakfast and lunch buffets were superb and the 150 tables on the floor filled with quality guns and goods. The staff at the Monticello Raceway from Event Coordinator, Lori to the Maintenance people to Security and even the NYS Police on staff couldn’t have been more helpful. The joint effort made things run smoothly and we knew they definitely wanted us there. However, I think everyone, including myself, forgot that our Saratoga Springs, NY Arms Fair was not built with one show. It surely wasn’t in Saratoga and look at it now. We have the same good feeling about the future of Monticello.

Attendance was definitely lower than anticipated; I think we may have relied too much on local advertising. We have to do a better job and advertise more in northern New Jersey and Pennsylvania. To target newspaper or radio stations we need more information in those areas and any forthcoming from dealers and members would be most welcome, we already have had some suggestions. We sent out thousands of direct mail discount coupons as well as four-color postcards sent out by the Monticello Raceway publicity department. We advertised three weeks prior in The Yorktown Pennysavers that cover the lower Hudson Valley and the Want Ad Digest covering the upper as well as two weeks prior in the local papers. Websites were used; fliers and mini flier pads were distributed to and by NEACA Members at shows and in shops in five States. Enough of a public base got the word about the show to have at least several thousand show up, but they didn’t.

Checking over what advertising we did, perhaps there may also have been contributing factors to the low attendance, one was that after nearly three weeks of rain, Saturday and Sunday mornings were dry. We were also only two weeks after the Middletown Show and area money might have been spent. But I think the biggest reason was that people didn’t know what to expect either of the show or being where it was with signs stating "No Guns Allowed" on the doors. Questions were asked and rumors abounded about the show, all unfounded!

There were nothing but compliments from the public that did come in. Things like, "We need a good show like this in this area!" "When will you have another one?" And new dealers who asked to be added to our mailing list so they can exhibit at the next show in Monticello. The only complaints were from a couple of the exhibitors about when we were opening the doors to the public, etc. The ones who would generally complain if God came down and put an engraved Henry on their table and it would be the wrong caliber! They probably won’t be at our next show.

To that end we are anticipating a late fall or winter Arms Fair at the Monticello Raceway. The staff there has already asked what they can do to help make it a better show and we’ve told them that they have to work with us to get more public there. Better advertising, more local signs and more word of mouth. We thank all you dealers who were there because you were the ones who generated the compliments.

June 17, 18, Saratoga Antique Arms Fair

On to our next Saratoga Springs, NY Antique Arms Fair again on this upcoming Father’s Day Weekend, please note we are closing early at 1:00 PM on Sunday in view of the holiday. Our last show had some great displays and exhibitors and the public was adequate for a holiday and early summer show. Last year we were also against the same type show in Manchester, NH but that will not be held this time around. We have some great exhibitors for this second Antique Arms Fair and a lot of public response with questions by phone. Remember this is an Antique and Collector Arms Fair, look at the flier and bring those types of items. And I know that even you dealers in modern firearms, as many did last year, can find at least enough collector items and used guns lying around for a table or two. Or invite a friend who wants to clean out some of their collection or shop to participate with you. This is a great opportunity to continue development of this new show with some new people. We all have to work at doing this if fine Saratoga shows are expected in the future.

The table arrangement is a bit different than our regular Arms Fairs, the next one being this August 4, 5 & 6, as we have end caps on the aisles and one less across, so your regular tables won’t be just as they normally are. We have also lost three members since last year that will be watching our show from on high wondering who can try to fill their spaces. A very tough assignment and not getting any easier. Again, we can always use some good exhibitors for this fine show.

All the upcoming fliers are enclosed and I would like at least a deposit on those you plan on attending so I can do my job of promoting the shows to the public and not calling exhibitors about who is coming. And I do thank all of you for your continued efforts at making your shows and ours great.


Cathy Petronis and hubby, Dave.