This post is a contribution from Mike Reed, one of our 2010 IBMA correspondents. See his profile here.
The IBMA Exhibit Hall opening this afternoon and from first appearances seems smaller than last year. Of course, several of the vendors were still arriving and setting up as the doors opened. I checked with the IBMA staff that was told that participation numbers for this year are essentially the same as last year. However, the IBMA did report that several vendors chose a smaller footprint this year. Adding to the smaller feel was the utilization of about a third of the exhibit area for lunch tables, an area that was utilized by some booths last year.
The vendors that are here also seem to have brought fewer items to display and sell. Exceptions were the familiar Martin and Elderly booths, both of which seem to be as large and well stocked as in the past. As was the case last year, Elderly brought a nice selection of vintage instruments, including a Lloyd Loar Mandolin and other vintage guitars and banjos. Thanks to them I can actually say that I have held and played a Lloyd Loar! Now if I can just get my wife to agree to trade the house for it…..
I overheard more than one vendor say that the economy has really hurt their business and affected their level of participation this year. It also seems that the number of performing artist booths is larger this year than last. There seems to be an increased use of the exhibit area booths for new bands to introduce themselves and also to sell their merchandise.
As of this afternoon there are still a good number of booths that are set up but not being utilized. There may be some vendors that decided not to attend at the last minute or will be late arrivals.