Southern Shows Inc., the pioneering consumer-show exhibition series many credit with turning Charlotte into a shopping destination area, announced Wednesday it has sold six of its 18 shows to Ohio-based Marketplace Events.
The transaction includes three shows in Charlotte, including the Southern Christmas Show, the largest holiday show in the country that attracts more than 100,000 visitors. Other shows in the deal include the Southern Spring Home & Garden Show, and the Southern Ideal Home Shows in Charlotte, Raleigh and Greensboro.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
To help with the transition, owners David Zimmerman, president, and CEO Joan Zimmerman said in a statement that Southern Shows will manage the next three home shows happening in February in Charlotte, March in Greensboro and April in Raleigh on behalf of Marketplace Events.
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Marketplace Events produces home and garden events in Cleveland, Raleigh and 20 other markets, according to its website.
Joan Zimmerman and her husband, Robert, co-founded the successful concept in 1961, putting on a flower show in Raleigh’s Dorton Arena that year.
They later moved to Charlotte to take advantage of the brand new Charlotte Merchandise Mart to expand their concept, David Zimmerman told the Observer in March. Now known as The Park Expo & Conference Center, the Zimmermans saw the space as a canvas where they could draw visitors through various exhibitions that showcased local talent and entrepreneurs.
They held their first Charlotte show in 1963. From there, the series grew to 18 shows a year in 12 cities.
When Robert Zimmerman died in March at age 84, Charlotte Chamber president and CEO Bob Morgan said Charlotte’s small-business community prospered from the shows, designed to highlight vendors and draw in shoppers.
“Long before Charlotte became the destination it is today, Southern Shows gave people from throughout this region reasons to visit Charlotte and spend money here,” Morgan said. “The events have become an annual pilgrimage for many.”
Southern Shows will continue to own and produce the 11-show Women’s Show Series, and the Southern Farm Show.
Calls to Southern Shows and Marketplace Events weren’t immediately returned.