Hello again from Algodones, NM
Saturday Morning March 27, 2010 (Fourth travelogue of this trip).
We wrote our second post of this travelogue from this same location last Saturday. As we noted then, it is a fun, convenient, inexpensive place to stop. We are staying here two nights to wait out a snow storm that is hitting Denver. Besides we need to relax after a rather hectic show!!
The FMCA rally was a mixed bag. For the attendees, it sounded like it was a royal pain. The show was at the fairgrounds, but the camping was at the Balloon Fiesta Park, several miles away. The ran large commercial buses between the two facilities, but that must have been a logistics issue for the folks in the park. On the last day of the rally, there was a rollover crash on I-25 that had traffic virtually shut down. We could really see the impact at the show, as there were very few folks in the vendor area and 3 or 4 ladies missed Pat’s craft session (after they had paid for it).
In addition, Albuquerque is over 5000 feet in elevation and the aging membership includes many folks who have health issues at that altitude.
Albuquerque was our first trade show in 2004. It was a disaster for us, as we were not prepared and we were located in the Balloon Park. At the time FMCA said they would not be back. I don’t know what changed their mind, but they again held it in mid-March when the weather is really iffy. I think the attendance reflected the lack of enthusiasm for the location by the membership. FMCA always publishes the attendance, but they did not this time. We believe they were quite embarrassed. We have a semi-official count of less than 1700 coaches. That is, by far, the lowest attendance at an “International” rally. Attendance has been declining over the past few years. We attended some of these rallies before we started vending and went to several that were well over 5000 coaches and a few that were over 7000.
In spite of the bad attendance we did OK. We had quite a bit of interest in our fire suppression system and sold a reasonable amount of other product. Probably not enough to pay for the total cost of the trip, but better than many of our shows. It might sound strange that we don’t cover the cost of our trips, but our philosophy is that we are “paying our dues”. With our kind of product, people need to build their confidence that we are trusted vendors. We have begun to see a bit of an up-tick in system sales that we attribute to contacts at the shows.
The booth had potential customers in it almost all of the time. Often there were several at one time. That is the good news. The bad news is that we were on our feet on hard concrete for most of the three days of the show. We had to get up before 6:00 each day and often got to bed well after 10:00. Not complaining, as we know the “drill” going into the rally. However this rally was harder on us than most. Hence the need to relax here at the casino.
In the last post we had a link to the map of our location at the fairgrounds. If you look closely, we were a couple of hundred yards from Central Ave. This is the old Route 66. We have talked a great deal about Route 66 in the past. It was a highway that ran from Chicago to LA. It was first planned in 1926 and finished in 1938. It has been immortalized in music, books, movies and TV. One of the best sites for the history of the highway is here.
I would love to quote all of the page cited above, but the following excerpt will give you an idea of some of the compelling content:
“In his famous social commentary, The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck proclaimed U. S. Highway 66 the “Mother Road.” Steinbeck’s classic 1939 novel, combined with the 1940 film recreation of the epic odyssey, served to immortalize Route 66 in the American consciousness.”
We have held off establishing a trade show/travel schedule pending resolution of the bus problems. Now that it appears that we are “back on the road” again, we will be firming up our schedule. The shows and rallies we are looking at are very exciting.
That is all for now.