Meredith Townsend didn’t plan on navigating the waters of a once-in-a-century pandemic when she signed on to become the CEO of the Home Builders Association of Greater Little Rock (HBA-GLR) in 2019, and thus the mastermind behind its annual home show. There are a few fitting analogies about lemons and rainy days that could probably sum up the perils of mid-pandemic event-planning for her and the rest of her team well, but suffice it to say that in May, it’ll be sunshine and lemonade in their forecast. The best part: We can all participate, thanks to the efforts of HBA-GLR.
The weekend of May 22-23 is when the 69th annual HBA-GLR Home Show, presented by Lumber 1 Home Center, descends on the capital city by way of a brand new venue for the association: the Statehouse Convention Center. And as the largest and longest-running event of its kind in the entire state, preparation and coordination is never a small feat; this year was exceptionally challenging. But given its history and popularity, it’s hard to shake a sense that it had to transcend the times and continue. The timing couldn’t be more perfect.
For one, there is a growing essence of calm emerging in the world around us, something that has been so absent over the past year. Who knows what May will bring, but for the first time in a calendar year, most people are feeling optimistic, secure, safe. Ironically, Townsend says this part of the equation was mostly luck.
“Coincidentally, it ended up in May,” she says. “Literally two weeks before the pandemic hit, we signed the agreement. But I think as herd immunity is happening and people are getting vaccinated, everybody just wants to get out of their houses. And we’re going to be the first big show coming out of that.”
Maintenance, upkeep and improvements. Now that we’ve seen every nook, cranny and blemish of our houses, we will devote more of our time, money and energy on all of the improvements we’ve procrastinated and just all-around maintenance.
Showcasing Your Business
You won’t find a better venue or value to showcase your products and services to the consumer public. As an exhibitor, you’ll receive the direct benefit of HBA-GLR’s comprehensive marketing strategies and will have access to thousands of patrons interested in the industry and services you provide.
• 51 percent first-time attendees.
• 57 percent female; 43 percent male.
• Age range: 20-81; average age: 49.
• Residents from at least 28 Arkansas counties in attendance.
• 67 percent have plans for a remodeling project in the next 12 months.
• 45 percent have interests in energy savings.
• 20 percent are interested in building a new home.
*Booth assignments and placements are made on a first-come, first-serve basis. Therefore, it is important to get your registration in quickly. For more information, visit www.hbaglr.com/homeshow.
Despite the odds, Townsend is hopeful that this year’s home show will be among the best and most highly regarded in the event’s near-70 year history.
As usual, the event will be a two-day, wall-to-wall lineup of all things residential, featuring renowned experts in home improvement, remodeling, décor, interior design and outdoor solutions, with hundreds of exhibitors on display. If a stunning neighborhood marvel has caught your eye recently, odds are that the business behind that home’s creation will be there and happy to help you with any of your home needs.
But the HBA-GLR also has a few surprises up its sleeve this year, which are sure to impress both first-timers and frequent visitors alike.
One of Townsend’s proudest developments is how the event will be laid out.
Most of us are not strangers to big events cut from a similar cloth as the home show. Many of the very memories you’re picturing in your head right now probably also occurred at the Statehouse Convention Center. They’re packed, clamorous occasions with people and products as far as the eye can see. Tables with vendors stripe the concrete floor in a grid-like fashion as attendees zig-zag back and forth across the aisles. A flashy item there: “Let’s go check it out.” A familiar logo there: step and repeat. “Oh, we missed something.” Time to backtrack. It’s fun, exciting and engaging just as well as it’s a little messy and overwhelming.
But not the HBA-GLR home show, not this year.
Instead, it will be laid out like, for lack of a more fitting example, IKEA.
“The floor plan is not going to be the traditional trade show floor plan; it’s a one-directional floor plan,” Townsend explains. “I did this for two reasons. One, for COVID-19 reasons, so we’ve got a one-directional flow for the safety of everyone. But two, I want to create an experience with this home show. When you come in, I want it to be warm and inviting, just like your home is, and not industrial, like most trade shows are.”
Townsend also shares that Lumber 1, the event’s presenting sponsor, will inhabit an entire zone, bringing practically its entire store into a space encompassing several booth slots. In her words, it will be quite literally a “showroom.”
“Everything is specifically designed to lead you a certain way,” she goes on to say. “And everywhere you look, there’s something to see. So you’re not just standing in the middle of an intersection, so to speak, not knowing where you’re supposed to go next.”
To date, Townsend estimates that about half of its booths for the home show are filled, and she’s projecting that all of that prime real estate will be full by the time the weekend of the event arrives.
The pandemic has presented HBA-GLR with challenges in that regard, as well. Due to the events of the past year, most businesses have decreased marketing budgets for such occasions, and some are still wary to get involved in events that — for the past year — have been up in the air. But Townsend has remained confident and resolute in her approach: the home show will happen, and it will benefit not only the attendees shopping for their homes but also their vendor partners.
“I’d like to get more local partnerships because we’ve got an abundance of stores that are related to homes in Little Rock,” she says.
Even if your business’ revenues are down and marketing monies aren’t where they used to be, Townsend still believes in her heart that the home show is a good monetary move for anyone with services in the industry, from building and remodeling, kitchens and bathrooms, outdoor living, interior design and decorating, furnishings and accessories, green living and even financial and professional services. Simply put: If your business model revolves around homeowners, there will be thousands in one spot for two days in need of your assistance.
And, back to the perfect timing that Townsend and her team feel fortunate to have, many of the patrons stepping outside of their pandemic comfort zone for the first time in a year will have their minds honed in on either a new build, remodel or simply some new decor (to break the monotony of the same four walls they’ve seen working from home all year). Due to the recently released stimulus package, most will have a decent amount of expendable income to make it happen.
So, as the societal return to normal gets closer to fruition, the home show will be a welcome jolt of revenue and (with luck) back to bottom lines above water for the vendors at the home show.
And for patrons, it will serve as both a reprieve and an inspiration — for better days and better homes that lie ahead.
69th Annual HBA-GLR Home Show, presented by Lumber 1
Saturday, May 22 from
9 A.M. – 6 P.M.
Sunday, May 23 from
10 A.M. – 5 P.M.
Statehouse Convention Center
101 E. Markham St,