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Old House New House show draws thousands again

ST. CHARLES - For Rob Falls, the Saturday he spent on the floor of the expo center at Pheasant Run Resort wasn't directly about persuading customers to buy a barbecue grill, leaf blower or other piece of home-related hardware.

But Falls, operations manager at Geneva Ace Hardware, said the day spent exhibiting and chatting with visitors at the Old House New House Home Show on Saturday and Sunday could prove invaluable when those same visitors are in the market for a new power tool, patio equipment or other hardware-related service in the not-too-distant future.

"We really felt like we should take advantage of this chance to get the word out, to let a lot of our local people know that we're back, and ready to help," said Falls.

Saturday, hundreds of potential customers strolled past the Geneva Ace Hardware booth during the first day of the fall installment of the semi-annual Old House New House Home Show, sponsored, as in years past, by Lisle-based Kennedy Productions at the Pheasant Run Convention Center in St. Charles.

The event, which in years past has drawn thousands during its two-day weekend runs, offered visitors the chance to take a look at a range of products for the home, including roofing, gutters, siding, windows, interior wall materials, flooring, home security systems, cabinets, bath surrounds, custom furniture, and even cookware and bedding, among many others.

While the sustained sluggishness in the national and regional economy has slowed home construction projects in general, organizers of the show said attendance at the events have remained brisk.

Sally Boland, sales manager with Kennedy Productions, said organizers were pleased with Saturday's attendance.

"The lobby was full of people when we opened this morning," Boland said. "And we've had steady traffic ever since."

Many booths were populated by exhibitors representing big names in home improvement products.

Many others, however, featured local retailers, service providers and contractors.

Brad Snell with Collins Construction Group, a remodeling contractor company based in Batavia, said the show has produced good business for Collins in the past, even as the kinds of people stopping by the booth have changed through the years.

The company has exhibited at the show four times.

"... every time we've come, we've gotten at least one job out of it," said Snell.

It's that kind of uptick in business tied to the show that Falls said Geneva Ace Hardware hoped to achieve, as it signed on to do the show for the first time.

The store had undergone several transitions in the past couple of years, after the store was acquired and reopened in Geneva by new owners George and Lynn Havlicek.

"There are a lot of local people here at this show, so this lets them see a little of what we offer," Falls said. "It gets us back out there."

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