LACEY - South Sound residents in search of remodeling and landscaping ideas gathered Saturday at Saint Martin's University for the Olympia Master Builders 2010 Big Home & Garden Show, which continues today.
About 125 vendors occupied Marcus Pavilion, the Worthington Center and a parking lot south of the center.
Although an attendance figure was not available for Saturday, the opening day of the event appeared busier than last year, said Stacey Genzlinger, director of member services for OMB. Many visitors came early to take advantage of an admission price discounted by 50 percent, she said.
Some, too, came looking for a specific product; others sought information or inspiration.
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Ramona Van Buskirk of Olympia, who has been to the show before, attended to buy blinds for her house and already had made an appointment to get an on-site estimate, she said.
“The atmosphere is good, and the vendors are pleasant to talk to,” Van Buskirk said.
Duane Ullmann of Olympia said he comes to the event almost every year. He needs to repaint his house and get a new roof, and it’s easier to walk around and talk to vendors than it is to dig through the phone book, Ullmann said.
“You can talk to them one on one right away,” he said, adding that some vendors have samples of products he can compare with others. Prices, too, are a little bit more reasonable these days because of the slower economy, he said.
“Most people are hungry for jobs right now,” Ullmann said.
Patti Mahoney of Olympia came in search of landscaping ideas, she said. She listened to a guest speaker talk about landscaping ideas and was “coming up with a plan” for her own yard, she said.
“I always come to see what’s here,” Mahoney said.
Vendors also take advantage of the show to expose their businesses to more customers.
Debbi Thompson said her business, Bay Shore Construction, has participated for two years. That has helped improve word-of-mouth recognition for the business, she said.
Mr. Electric owner Jim Simmons has had a booth at the show for four years. In an economy he called “challenging,” the booth gives the business added exposure and generates leads for new business, he said.
“It also keeps me in front of existing customers,” Simmons said.
About 70 percent of his business is tied to electrical needs for residences, plus some commercial work and a retail business selling a Kohler-brand automatic generator. Powered by either natural gasoline or propane, the generators can produce about 20,000 watts of power, he said. They sell for about $6,000, and he sells about 10 a year, Simmons said.
Diversification has helped his business in a slower economy, he said. “I’m an eternal optimist,” Simmons said, adding that he hopes the economy turns around within a year.