Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Richmond Fishing Expo……”The Show”? by Jason Houchins

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Richmond Fishing Expo……”The Show”?
As I spent the last weekend helping the VA TBF at the Richmond Fishing Expo, I had a lot of time to really think about how it has changed. I’m pretty sure it was in the late 80s when I first attended this show, back then it was called Bassoroma, or was it Bassarama? Anyhow, it was the greatest thing in the world to me. The empire of bass fishing was just getting started and it had not become the billion dollar business that it is today. The show was huge and if you had a tackle business or boat dealership remotely close to Richmond, you were there. In return if you were a bass fisherman and wanted to have everything bass fishing within reach, you were there as well. It was definitely 100% the place to be.
It’s a whole lot different today. It’s still a very good show and I was glad to be there, but it has lost its greatness to me. First off in the new technology era of internet fishing pros and social media boom, it’s really hard to tell who the “Pros” are at the show. I mean everyone is all decked out in their $100 Jerseys, and everyone looks like someone. For the record this also included me for 2 of the 3 days, as I was asked by the VA TBF to do so. They paid the bill for me being there, I believe in the TBF, so I graciously accepted. But most of the time, I can’t tell who’s working the show, who’s there to experience the show, or who are the marquee names involved in the show? It’s all a big cluster of high dollar jerseys and flash, and it seems that 50% of the people in the building are a part of the show. If I’m just an average guy that walks in there to see what’s going on, who am I supposed to listen to? Everyone looks to be somebody. Sometimes I’m almost embarrassed, because I wonder if I’m qualified to look like somebody, when I’m not and don’t want to be. I honestly wanted to help boost membership, see old friends, and make new ones. Which I believed we accomplished pretty well.
The other thing that has seemed to disappear are the “Deals” that you would get at the show. I mean you could find deals on boats, rods, reels, and everything, these deals would only be seen at this show. These seem to no longer exist. Boats had actual show prices, if you bought the boat, you were honestly getting a better price by buying it at the show. The same way with all tackle, rods, reels, etc. You rarely see that at the show anymore. I did hear of a few, but I couldn’t confirm any of it. I wish there were more deals that would make it more special. I also think as a business minded person you need to get what you can for a product. If someone is willing to pay full price, you should sell it for full price. So if “Deals” are not needed to get people there, who am I to say they are?
One thing I have to say is that a few people have recognize my points that I am bringing up. They see that they have to be different in getting people’s attention to bring people to their booth. The best booth in my opinion is the North Anna Tackle/ Angling VA booth. They had a giant screen TV going all the time running the TV show constantly. The booth itself was set up just like a store, decorated with mounted fish and a padded floor that had the appearance of hardwood. Kudos to you all for putting a bunch of effort into your display. Did it help? I don’t know, but every time I swung by there it was packed with people. You can’t sell or promote anything unless you got people at your booth. Another booth I give Kudos to is the Western North Carolina Trout Booth, nothing says fishing more than fishing. To put a swimming pool of trout out there and charge $3 to fish for 5 minutes, this is genius in its simplest form. What better to allure fisherman than using a fish. This booth is a big hit with kids and adults. I may have put $3 in their hand a couple of times, but I’m not telling.
Overall it’s still a good show. If anything, it gives bass fisherman a place to go in the dead of winter to just hang out. I always feel like it starts the fishing juices flowing a little before March hits. The seminars are very informative and seem to have some merit, especially when there are some big names mixed with local people. It also helps lots of local fisherman trying to make a name for themselves or trying to start a legitimate business. This show gives people like Bent Rods Guide Service the exposure that could be vital for their success throughout the year. Although it can be hard to distinguish who these people are sometimes, it’s still important for them. So as usual I liked the show, I had fun and I would say most people who were there did as well. So I guess like everything else the show will continue to evolve but always remain better than no show at all.

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