Sunday, November 11, 2007

Woodworking Shows

I went to the Woodworks Events show this weekend in York, PA, where my club had a booth and where I took two seminars and one class. One of the best things about being a woman at these shows: no lines in the women's bathroom.

Since I've been attending shows like this for the past 15 years, I've noticed a steady decline in attendance both in attendees and in vendors. Used to be you'd have to crane your neck over the shoulders of 3 rows of people who were crowding over some tool seller's demonstration. Not an easy task for someone who's only 5' 5". You'd find yourself saying "excuse me" throughout the day because of the number of folks you'd inadvertantly bump into. It was noisy, bustling, exciting, and something you'd mark on your calendar months in advance of the show date.

The show this weekend was a veritable ghost town. I've noticed the most significant decline in the last 5 years. Years ago, the closest parking space I could find was about a quarter of a mile from the front entrance. Today, I parked in the second row directly in front of the entrance doors.

So, what's going on? Are woodworkers suddenly taking up quilting? Épée competitions? I don't think so. My theory: the Internet. Fifteen years ago, a woodworking show provided the only chance you had to see certain tools or newly unveiled tools, compare them with other manufacturers' equivalents, and peruse the latest woodworking books. Now, of course, you can compare tools online, find all the specifications you need, even download manuals, price compare, and buy the latest woodworking books at discount prices weeks after they've been published.

I suspect the halcyon days of woodworking shows are over. And that's sad. For me, it's like the end of a time-honored tradition. To no longer bump elbows with so many people who share your same passion, to no longer have to race to each booth for fear of missing out on some great deal or the last issue of a book you reminds me of that 80's song: "Video Killed the Radio Star".

Internet Killed the Woodworking Shows.


Shazza said...

My sis and bro-in-law live around that area. He's usually into that kind of thing, I'll have to ask him if he went!

Sorry to hear that the turnout wasn't that great.

You'll have to think of yourself as a rare breed. Someone who sticks to her guns! Perseveres in the toughest times!

You are a survivor!

Kari Hultman said...

If "survivor" is synonymous with "stick-in-the-mud", then that I am!

Unknown said...

I think you are right on both fronts, the internet and lack of woodworkers. WE have entered into a high tech, prefab world. Most people do not enjoy the sawdust smell and sense of pride when working with wood and projects of that nature. It is a dying art.

Kari Hultman said...

In addition, we live in a disposable society where people change their decorating style every five years and toss their cheap furniture into the landfills. No one invests in heirloom quality furniture anymore, so it's near impossible to make a living as a woodworker.

Unknown said...

I have a friend that reminds me of you ro vice versa. The biggest difference is instead of woodworking she plays with her Harley, other than that, almost identical.

I am just throwing that out there.

Kari Hultman said...

That's awesome! But you're right about it being a big difference, because I'd be terrified to get on a motorcycle.

Of course, maybe she'd be a tad uneasy about using machinery that can turn flesh into alpo. ; )