You’ve got big dreams for your house, and whether you are looking at a small DIY project or a full scale renovation, it’s always a good idea to see what products and services are easily available nearby. Home and Renovation shows (if there are any in your area) are often a great place to start. With so many trades, contractors and products all in one place showing off their wares, it’s a condensed, efficient way to see what is out there. However, if you’re unprepared, a home and renovation show can quickly become overwhelming, so we figured we’d give you some tips on the things we’ve learned from the other side of the booth.
Prepare for your Physical Needs
This one is key. You just won’t be able to concentrate if your needs aren’t taken care of first. Wear comfortable shoes—you’ll be racking up the steps—and bring some snacks and water with you. If you live in a place where it’s often well below freezing during your renovation shows (like here in Winnipeg) plan for what you’re going to do with your coat. Our RBC Convention Centre has heated indoor parking so leaving a jacket in the car is a snap, but if you end up parking outside, a backpack to stuff your coat into while keeping your hands free is a smart idea.
Depending on how much you’d like to accomplish while you’re there, it could be a pretty long day, so make sure you have everything you’ll need so you don’t have to leave in the middle in search of sustenance. Most renovation shows have some food available on premises, but will it be food you’ll want to eat? Maybe. Maybe not.
Have a Plan
What are you hoping to accomplish while you’re at the show? If you’re thinking of embarking on a major kitchen renovation (our favourite), take a look at the show website and see which companies will be there and get a good idea of where you’d like to spend the bulk of your time. Some booths (like ours) offer full-service renovations, and if that’s the route you’d like to take, scope out booths that have it on offer. If you’d rather coordinate all the pieces of your renovation yourself, this is also a great opportunity to connect with a lot of different material vendors and see what’s available and get a good idea of what fits into your budget. Plan your attack and hit the booths you want to see most first.
Be strategic as you plan. Booths have busy times and not-so busy ones, so if you want to be sure you’ll get a good period of focused service, aim for a time of day where the show isn’t as crowded. This could be the afternoon of a workday, right after opening on the weekends, or even during standard mealtimes when many of the show visitors may be off finding food (See? Those snacks came in handy).
Seeing product pictures online is great, but actually being able to see (and touch) materials is a much better way to understand what you want. Some folks are a bit shy, but as a vendor, this is precisely why we’re here. We want you to touch our displays, we want you to experience the quality of our work and imagine what it would be like to have in your home. If you’re looking at window displays, open them up, feel how they move. Open kitchen cupboard doors and test the pullout features. Just remember that it’s not going to be EXACTLY like a finished kitchen inside your home. We did have to transport this display in trucks and elevators and quickly assemble it inside a massive convention centre (and will have to disassemble it just as quickly), but it will give you a pretty good idea.
Bring Plans + Pictures
If you’re planning a new bathroom remodel, bring pictures of what you have now, and also pictures of bathrooms you like (on your phone is great). If you talk to any of the talented folk manning the Gateway booth, that’s exactly what they want to see. It’s a lot easier to offer recommendations if we can see the space you’re talking about.
Watch for Show Deals
Many vendors, especially ones selling individual materials, offer special deals for sales made at the show. It’s a win for everyone involved. You get a bit of a deal and they get a concentrated audience looking for their products. If you’re considering making a deal, make sure you know what their regular prices are and don’t get sucked in to something you weren’t planning on buying just because it was a good price. When it comes to renovations, you’re generally better off choosing what you love rather than what’s on sale, but if you can manage to do both? Grab it!
Collect Brochures + Business Cards
Even if you think you have the best memory around, with so much information coming at you so quickly, you are bound to forget something. The last thing you want to do is forget which vendor had the tiles you liked, or the super helpful salesperson you want to connect with after the show. Bring a marker to put big circles or stars on the brochures of vendors you really want to remember.
Maybe Don’t Enter ALL the Contests
You know it, we know it. The contests are great ways for vendors to connect with people interested in their products, and vendors WILL contact you if you leave your phone number and email address in a fishbowl for them. If you’re not into that, maybe the free sweatshirt isn’t worth the hassle. It’s helpful to avoid vendors you’re definitely not interested in. We don’t mind. We promise.
Don’t Forget to Say Hello!
Even if we don’t have what you’re looking for right now, we’d still love to meet you! You never know when you might be in need of our services. It’s great to have some of those talented and friendly companies tucked into the memory bank for when you need them. From all of us at Gateway Kitchen + Bath… Have fun at the show!