In a down economy, many homeowners would rather remodel the house they have than buy a new one.
So says Scott McDowell, the manager of this weekend's Fall Home Remodeling Show, which continues through Sunday at Century II Expo Hall.
The show, in its sixth year, features 120 vendors, most of them local, selling windows to security systems, hot tubs to log cabins. McDowell expects to draw between 8,000 and 12,000 people.
"We try to have everything a homeowner might want under one roof. It saves consumers from having to drive around and spend gas money and make lots of phone calls," said McDowell, who works for a trade show production company out of Kansas City.
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A down economy, however, also keeps the show from being quite as grand as in the past.
This year's show is smaller than previous shows, McDowell said, and the log cabin vendors — who usually assemble small versions of their popular homes inside Century II — have scaled back to regular-sized booths.
The size of the show, though, was a draw for Karen Lucas, the owner of a new business called Concrete Designs that specializes in stamping, texturing and staining concrete.
She's worried her business will be lost in the hugeness of the annual Wichita Garden Show, a popular trade show put on in Century II each spring that draws about 40,000 people.
"I knew it was going to be a smaller show, and I thought that would give us a little more visibility," said Lucas, who by Saturday morning had made several appointments to visit prospective clients' homes.
On Saturday afternoon, the show was a maze of sales pitches, As-Seen-On-TV products and Halloween candy.
Couples strolled hand in hand, watching vacuum demonstrations, registering to win prizes and learning about the $1,500 tax credit available to those wanting to install energy-efficient windows.
Among those attending were homeowners Jack and Lydia Davis.
They need to replace their air conditioner and decided it would be easier to travel from booth to booth, seeing what local businesses had to offer.
They'd made an appointment to have a salesman visit their house within the first few minutes of arriving.
"We wanted to be able to compare," Lydia Davis said. "We didn't want to just look in the phone book and make a bunch of calls."