BANGOR, Maine — With the economy lagging, more companies than ever, it seems, want to push their products and get their names out there.
At least that’s what organizers of the fourth annual Showcase Homes What Women Want Expo found leading up to Saturday’s daylong event at the Bangor Civic Center.
There were 53 businesses on hand, most of which cater to women. There were companies selling handbags, jewelry, furniture and cosmetics. There were also insurance companies, plastic surgeons, eye-care specialists and doctor’s offices represented.
“The whole basis of this is to put buyers in front of sellers, face to face, in one room, so they can show their goods,” said Tom Preble, vice president and general manager of Cumulus Bangor, a media company that also sponsors the expo.
The number of businesses has grown every year, and Cumulus considered Saturday’s number a sellout for booths at the expo.
Preble said that by 2 p.m. several thousand people had been through the free expo, including about 300 who saw radio personalities including Bob Lacey of the nationally syndicated “Bob and Sheri Show,” which is aired locally on 92.9 WEZQ.
Brenda Cookson of Stetson, who was running a booth for her Brenda’s Quilting Service, was a first-time vendor at the expo. Although she’s been quilting for many years, she decided to start her business after she was laid off last November from the Pittsfield manufacturing firm C.M. Almy.
“I decided to go for it,” Cookson said. “I had never done a big show because I was always scared of the price. But you have to spend money to make money.”
Cookson said she spent $500 for her booth, which also came with radio advertising. That’s one of the reasons Alvin Smith, the owner of Hickory Dickory Decks of Carmel, also decided to bring his business to the expo.
Smith, who plans to open a showroom on Hammond Street in Bangor at the end of April, said he was also drawn to Saturday’s expo because of the cancellation of the Bangor Garden Show. He said he generates about 70 percent of his business at the Bangor garden and home shows.
The garden show, typically held each year in early April, was canceled in January for financial reasons. It is expected to return next year.
“In the past when I heard about this show, I pictured a walkway with women in gowns,” Smith said. “I thought it was a fashion show. This year when I heard it was being sponsored by Showcase Homes, that made a little more sense. I was like, oh, OK. I can get my name out there.”
Smith said he got a couple of sales calls out of the expo, which made the event a successful one for Hickory Dickory Decks. There was one drawback to a steady stream of visitors to his booth, however.
“I’ve been so busy here that I haven’t had a chance to walk around,” Smith said with a smile. “Looks like another year’s going to go by before I truly find out what women want.”