The National Restaurant Show has traditionally been a big trade show for our company. I have been going to it since I was about 14. The rules said you had to be 16 and as soon as I was old enough to say I was 16, I started going. When I first started going, my goal was to get as much beer as I could get without getting caught. They used to have these giant Budweiser and Miller booths with music and all the beer a 16 year old could drink.
As I got older and wasn't as excited about free beer, I began to appreciate the trade show for what it was. It was a great opportunity to show our furniture to restaurateurs that might not see it otherwise. We pulled out of the trade show about 10 years ago.
We were having trouble following up on the leads that we got. Our primary market is selling to food service distributors. We would have restaurants come to the booth and ask about the furniture and we would say that we couldn't give pricing and that we would have a dealer follow up with them. That never seemed to lead to any sales.
After a while we decided that we needed to have a booth at the show to at least say hi to our customers and show that we are still around. After 25 years, it wasn't enough. We pulled out and stopped doing any trade shows for foodservice. The only trade show we still do is the PPAI show in Las Vegas where we exhibit our custom logo bar stools.