SC’s largest home and garden show has been a Greenville fixture for decades | Greenville Real Estate Special Coverage
It began in 1961 in the Greenville Memorial Auditorium, the large brick building that once stood downtown. There were 104 vendors, many of them huddled on the arena floor, from equipment dealers to clapboard and brick sellers. Home textiles, electronics, pools, hot tubs, tennis courts, landscaping – everything followed in the years that followed. The Southern Home and Garden Show was on.
In the late 1980s, it kept getting bigger, drawing so many visitors that the event filled the huge textile hall on the west side of Greenville. Over time, the Southern Home and Garden Show – or simply the “Home Show” around Greenville – developed into the largest house and garden show in South Carolina. Over the past six decades, the event has endured through boom and bust and recession and even a pandemic to cement its place in the state’s business landscape.
The 60th anniversary edition of the Southern Home and Garden Show takes place May 7-9 at the Greenville Convention Center. 170 exhibits from vendors – including one for The Post and Courier Greenville – provide information about renovation, canopy and landscaping, pest control, or anything else related to your home or yard.
Taylor Lyles (provided)
“This is the biggest event of our year,” said Taylor Lyles, executive vice president of the Homebuilders Association of Greenville, which hosted the show from the start. “The show actually started as a non-paid revenue stream for the Homebuilders Association of Greenville and remains one of our largest revenue streams, allowing us to continue our lobbying and educating consumers. We make sure that we offer you qualified suppliers, qualified builders and qualified subcontractors – that is our key. So the Home Show helps us fund what we do all year round. “
Household appliances, furniture – and a new car?
In the days leading up to the big hardware stores and internet shopping, the Southern Home and Garden Show gave consumers a chance to see in person the advances they may have only seen on TV. Photos from these earliest home shows showcase a glitzy selection of the latest home appliances. A 1966 story in The Post and Courier raved about the addition of furnishings, including entire rooms designed by Greenville designer David C. Fields.
And then there were the cars. No, not cars that are used as props in garage exhibitions, but real cars – and also sporty ones like Mustangs and Corvettes – that were given away to lucky visitors in the early 1960s.
“The Home Show was sponsored by a car, and I have photos of them giving away a Mustang and an older Corvette,” Lyles said. “That was in the early, early days.”
The freebies this year will be a little more reserved. Since the 60th anniversary of the Southern Home and Garden Show coincides with Mother’s Day weekend, mothers get free entry all weekend and a carnation on Sunday. This year’s show will also include cooking demos from a cooking school, DIY seminars, and even “Mum Inspiration Rooms”, perhaps to spark interest in a renovation or renovation project.
The Home Show’s longevity is evident not only in its colorful history, but also in the presence of its vendors, some of whom have been exhibiting at the event for years. Jeff Lynch, an appliance, electronics, and furniture retailer in Greenville, has been the Home Show’s presentation sponsor for a decade. This type of relationship is not uncommon as the consumers attending the fair tend to be seriously interested.
“The Home Show offers a unique dynamic for everyone. You can meet five contractors who can take care of your job, and you can interview them all in one afternoon. So you have the opportunity to meet with so many contractors and they are all there. They are there to help. They are there to answer questions. So it’s a great opportunity to turn it all off instead of having to make 15 different appointments to see if you are comfortable with this guy in your house, ”Lyles said.
“And from the perspective of our members, this is a great marketing opportunity. We range from 300 to 350 vendors, and I would say quite a lot of them use the Southern Home and Garden Show as their primary marketing and lead generator for their entire year. The health of their business rides on the Southern Home and Garden Show. You get between 13,000 and 15,000 consumers coming over the weekend, and most of them are qualified buyers. So this is a great opportunity. “
Consumers who travel with a specific purpose
Like everything else related to the housing industry, the Southern Home and Garden Show was hit by the housing bubble that burst in late 2007. From the 1980s to the early 2000s, the crowd continued to be large – until the recession hit and it began to decline. The excitement was great during the 2020 Home Show, which was the largest the Homebuilders Association had put on in a decade, thanks in part to a strong real estate market of 15,000 consumers and 390 vendors.
A week after the show ended, the world came to a standstill over the coronavirus pandemic. Although cases have since decreased, due to spikes in the Upstate, the Homebuilders Association felt uncomfortable planning the Home Show on their traditional weekend in early March, which has been going on for 59 years.
The Mother’s Day weekend move is likely to come with a slight drop in visitor numbers, Lyles said. But the pandemic has seen an increase in renovations. People are spending more time in their homes than ever before, looking for different ways to optimize their space. For these folks, the 60th edition of the Southern Home and Garden Show is right on time.
“The home show was always on the exact same weekend and has never changed. So we feel like we’re going to see a small drop (in attendance) but the consumers we think will be there will likely be more qualified than normal, ”added Lyles. “So if they come to the show this weekend, they are there to buy something. Whether it’s gutters, siding, bathroom renovation, kitchen renovation, patio, whatever, they’ll be there with a purpose.