Chuck Furimsky, owner/operator of The Fly Fishing Show may well have something to smile about. We accosted him in the halls of his Somerset, NJ event and found out a few interesting facts about the fly fishing show scene.
How was attendance this year? According to Mr. Furimsky, Friday set an all time record for the Somerset show (which is his largest event). The packed house we saw on Saturday seemed to further back this up. When asked if he thought the strong attendance was a sign of an impending economic rebound he replied rather that people saw the $15 admission price for the show and over 60 fly fishing programs as a great value (a message that is front and center in this year's marketing material).
What about the whole AFFTA / Nielsen trade show drama this year? Mr. F just shook his head and indicated that he had pitched a Florida show proposal to AFFTA but couldn't get any traction with the AFFTA board (the same folks who had previously decided to go head to head with his consumer show in the Denver market). A big revelation about his proposal for the Florida show would have given free hotel rooms to the dealers. Something we have to think would have made it almost as popular as if they had given free rooms to the media types.
From our own point of view, the show felt successful. The dealers we spoke to seemed happy with the attendance, booths were packed, Lefty Kreh was in the house, and the cash registers appeared to be ringing sales. We even saw a few freshly purchased fly rods leaving the building. Lots of folks were giving show discounts and one rod company even offered our pal Pete a code to use if he wanted to purchase online later. Laissez les bon temps rouler? Maybe.
Thanks to Mr. Furimski for taking time to answer our questions. Just in case you ever thought being a fly fishing show mogul was easy, when we met up with Mr. F he was on his way to repair a wireless microphone and wondering why the local Goose Patrol hadn't gotten rid of the geese.