Purveyors of everything from outdoor decking to dog training offered upbeat outlooks on the worsening economy Friday at the Charlotte Home Show.
The mood was determinedly hopeful as more than 100 exhibitors opened the three-day show at Metrolina Tradeshow Expo on Statesville Avenue. By midafternoon, shoppers roamed the long exhibit hall and American Consumer Shows, the event organizer, was predicting a strong turnout.
Eric Kent, owner of Archadeck of Charlotte, which builds decks, sunrooms and other products, said he's seen more business in the first few weeks of January than in all of November and December 2008.
“People are investing in their homes in January,” he said. “They're taking the ‘For Sale' signs down, and remodeling.”
Kent also said Archadeck expects to get considerable foreclosure-related business this year. It refurbishes decks, screened porches and provides new windows for companies fixing up foreclosed houses.
Ryan Grayce, a dog trainer from Cleveland, N.C., and his dog Rookie, a Belgian Malinois, were getting plenty of attention from moms and kids. Grayce dropped his wallet and Rookie instantly returned it, then sat on a stool and waited for orders.
Grayce, licensed through a worldwide company called Sit Means Sit, said the sour economy “hasn't affected us at all.” Owners want a well-trained dog, he said, and tend to spend as much on their pets as they do on their children.
His in-home services range from $175 to $4,000, he said, and he also sells trained dogs. He gets business through word of mouth and through exhibiting at home shows.
Paula Smith, a Matthews-based distributor for Carolina Granicrete Supply, exhibited countertops covered with her product, concrete with polymers that resembles granite. She said it's generally less expensive than granite and can be installed over existing countertops.
Smith installs her product and teaches others how to do it. She said it's a popular product in the western states, is catching on here and offers great potential earnings.
But she's hesitant to give up her full-time job as a crewing coordinator for the TV channel ESPN – someone who hires people to work in production. Her husband, Tom, she said, is out of work.
“I'm a displaced banker,” said Tom Smith, who's helping her with the exhibit.
For that reason, she said, “I'll stay where I am until things settle down.”