August 8, 2008

Dear Members and Exhibitors,

When Cathy and I started our NEACA Group and organized our first little show in Mechanicville, NY our son David was 15 years old and helped out.  Today is his 42nd birthday on a date none of us will see again, 08/08/08, Happy Birthday David.  How time does move along while you’re not watching.  Our kids have all grown with lives of their own and no longer do I have free help at home, or at our shows.  It is just Cathy and me ---- and all you exhibitors who really make our shows a success.

Well, this past August in Saratoga, at least we all tried.  Another show down in history and one that was down in public by nearly a third.  Same ads, same basic promos, lots of post cards mailed, but an awful lot of our regulars didn’t show up.  Why, who knows?  Actually, business wise I had a descent show as did most of you I talked to but activity and sales were definitely down; as was business traffic at the race track and on the street, off about 20% or more.

We have decided not to renew our Saratoga date for next August and stick with March, along with two other shows in the fall and winter season.  With the traffic, high hotel rates and tons of other outdoor things going on plus the expansion work starting at the City Center in the Spring, a break for next summer off seems logical.  From there, we’ll see.

The City Center is expanding outward and upward at the Maple Street entrances and the Broadway Atrium.  The main room will stay the same but entrances may change, I haven’t seen the final plan as yet.  I’m sure it is all for the best and perhaps we can make the Saratoga Arms Fairs larger and better.  The area is constantly building and developing and our county is one of only several that have had budget surpluses and no tax increases in New York State.  The economy here in Saratoga County is definitely vibrant so the future certainly looks good. 

What our show needs are new exhibitors so we can utilize the increased capacity of space and replace those who have retired, moved from the area or moved on to a better place.  I had over thirty cancellations for August, most for good reasons, a few for not.  As most of you now know, a long time show exhibitor and Life Member, Larry Zacarola passed away last week.  You knew him as “Ziggy”, that stout, white haired guy at the same back door location in the hall for many years.  He will be missed along with a multitude of members who went on before him, certainly enough to fill a show with an awful lot of fine people; Cathy and I remember them all.

But our gun show business in not one to dwell on the last show but to anticipate the next.  Even a disappointing outing, like fishing, is better than having to work for a living.  We just came back from Allentown Forks of Delaware show where we haven’t been in years.  Took six tables, expensed over $2000 and only took in $500, that from dealers, but we had a good time and we will be back.  We hope you’ll all be back to our next Saratoga Arms Fair on September 19, 20 and 21, our 25th year Anniversary Show at the City Center.

We opened the new center in August of 1984 with an antique show, a month later with our first Gun and Militaria Show.  I booked these when there was only a cement slab and  small trailer on premises, now the next event will mark our 72nd show on that slab.  We’ve come a long way baby!  Cathy is planning on a great event.  She’s convinced me of giving out exhibitor prizes to those who are supporting our September show with tables.  A ticket given for every table paid for plus a bonus for payment in full at least two weeks in advance.  She’ll work up some nice gifts starting with one of our Pachislo Gaming Machines to cash to free tables at shows.   Sign up with the enclosed flyer and be pleasantly surprised.  Also anyone presenting a full table display at this show will receive a special twenty-five year anniversary display award. 

If we don’t get our October 31, November 1 & 2 Antique Show fully filled soon with those dealers, we will turn it into an Antique Arms Fair WITH antiques and collectibles.  It’s bought and paid for so there will be a show in Saratoga at that time.  Our next mailing will have details plus fliers will be at our September event.  We still have our Member Banquet, Auction and Arms Fair on January 2, 3 & 4, 2009 also.  Please plan on it for dinner and a fun time.

We had 25th Anniversary NEACA Member pens imprinted and gave them out to members present at the August show.  For those of you who did not get one, either stop by our shop or see us at one of the upcoming shows for yours.  It is a very nice writing pen and will be a collector’s item in a hundred years so you don’t want to miss out.

Our second Utica show is coming right up, August 22, 23 & 24, flyer enclosed.  Our first show in April was great and we have about as many tables sold for this one.  Most same exhibitors are back and those that couldn’t do this show are being replaced with new dealers so average is about the same.  Still room for more though, so please tell your friends and if you haven’t sent in your application yet, do so now.  The Utica Hotel is holding a block of rooms as they did in April but August is a busy time, most hotels are sold out so call them immediately at 877-906-1912, Arms Fair rate of $110 with hot breakfast buffet, a super hotel close by the Utica Auditorium.  There are also a lot of chain motels in the area.

We have about 3000 prior show attendees on our Utica mailing list so far but we will send a discount post card to them all plus bring some to the Clayton show next week, also are mailing 1000 to the Boonville Friends of NRA booth at their Woodsmen’s days.  We look for new people all the time, please post our fliers in a prominent location in your own area and promote our shows from your tables at other shows.  Word of mouth is the best advertising, hopefully all good!

It is not an easy job creating, developing and producing good quality events all the time.  A lot of work goes into every show with constant promotion and never ending little things that always need to be done, plus we constantly look ahead a season or even years.  When most folks are enjoying the summer and vacations, we are planning our winter events or for next summer.  Our time goes by very fast and when September comes for us, we wonder where the spring season went.  Maybe it’s time to reassess, we aren’t getting any younger. 

If one of our offspring doesn’t want to take over this show business and look toward expansion, perhaps we should think about a partner who we can get to do all the work while we start enjoying the life we have yet to live.  But it is all work, work, work and last time I looked our portfolio of net worth was only two and a half mil, not much reward for 35 years in the gun business, especially if we don’t have time to spend some of it.  Any crazy and workable people out there with some cash and energy?  We can complain about each other on the way to the bank.  Happy hunting.

Sincerely, Cathy & Dave Petronis