Intelligencer Journal/Lancaster New Era
Doing their homework Show brings out those staying put, but wanting some extras
BY JON RUTTER, Staff Writer
Bill and Louise had never visited the annual home show in the Lancaster County Convention Center before this weekend.
The Wrightsville couple nevertheless fit the 2013 show-goer profile to a T.
They're not reassured by the state of the economy –– or the world.
They're well-settled in the house they've lived in for 55 years.
But they're not beyond investing in their home to make it more comfortable, attractive and enduring.
"We have to have a place to live," said Bill, who declined to give his last name. "We might as well enjoy it."
That could have been the theme of the day Friday at the Suburban Pennsylvania Spring Home, Hot Tub and Landscape Show at 25 S. Queen St.
The free event produced by Syosset, N.Y.-based American Consumer Shows continues today from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
First-day traffic was steady at midday Friday despite on-and-off rain.
American Consumer Shows' Larry DeMarco reported "a dramatic uptick" in attendance of about 30 percent this year at the company's expos nationwide.
People might simply be relieved to get past the presidential election and the fiscal cliff, DeMarco speculated.
He said with more certainty that the folks the shows draw "are not really do-it-yourselfers."
But because of the lingering effects of the recession, relatively few of them seem to be upgrading to larger properties.
"More people are putting money back into their homes" than trying to sell them, said Patrice Colegrove of Mid-Atlantic Waterproofing in York.
"It seems to be the era for that," added Colegrove, who was handing out miniature cinder blocks made of foam.
She acknowledged that the service she was pitching is a necessity: "If you've got water in your basement, you need to fix it."
Same idea when the paint is peeling off your walls.
"A lot of people don't want to, or can't, venture on that ladder," pointed out University Painters' Jonathan Frank, who said his franchise in Millersville has seen growth of 35 percent a year since launching in 2008.
But other vendors said people are increasingly shopping for value-added products, such as triple-pane windows or solar panels.
There's a corresponding move toward self-sufficiency, according to Matt Kemper, a sales agent for J.K. Mechanical Inc. in Willow Street.
Kemper said the company's biggest sellers in that vein are geothermal energy systems, which prompted a lot of inquiries Friday.
People want to "enhance their comfort and save money," added Kemper, who laughingly called himself a "comfort consultant."
Indeed, said Ben Kauffman of Penn Dutch Furniture in Glen Rock, a bit of luxury has a place at the recessionary table:
"One thing we've seen since the recession, there's a lot of custom work being done," even though it's pricier.
People aren't keeping up with the Joneses, Kauffman added. "They don't want what the Joneses have. ... If they're going to spend a couple of grand, they want it like they want it."
Matt Breyer said customization and high-tech materials have taken on new luster, too, in the landscaping industry.
"There's always opportunity in every market," added Breyer, of Breyer Construction & Landscape in Reading.
And exceptions to every economic motif.
"I'm actually going to be building a new home," not renovating an old one, said Willow Street resident Frann Moyer, who was gathering ideas on solar installations, among other things.
"I want to go as green as possible," Moyer said.
Janet Smith, Mountville, said she had the double goal of picking out new flooring for her home in Mountville and keeping her spouse, Karl, busy installing it.
"We do it ourselves," she said. "My husband's retired, and he likes to be a handyman."