The Man Behind Ocean City's Annual 'Home Show'
OCEAN CITY - This weekend marks the 24th year for the Ocean City Home, Condo and Garden Show and Art and Craft Fair, promising another year of decorating and remodeling ideas along with an eclectic mix of arts and crafts, all under one roof.
The Home, Condo and Garden Show and Arts and Craft Fair will span across three days at the Convention Center, from noon to 7 p.m. on Friday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday.
The 'home show' will be displaying 355 booths this year, presenting an eclectic mix of new home products and services as well as home and condo necessities and decorating, remodeling and accessorizing ideas. 127 booths will be on display at the Arts and Crafts fair, with a variety of gifts and accessories for the home.
The show began in Ocean City 24 years ago and has seen many changes over the years.
'We felt there was a need for it. We had a very simple, humble start,' said event organizer Mike Wicklein, noting how far the show has come since then.
The show started with about 80 exhibitors and 20 arts and crafters and has grown to 355 vendors at the 'home show' and 127 booths at the arts and crafts fair.
'Every year we grow a little bit more,' Wicklein said, noting how large the crowds have grown over the years, expanding from 2,000 to nearly 18,000. 'We were really at a standstill until the Convention Center expanded, with no more room to grow. Now we're filling up that space too.'
Many of the vendors have returned year after year, growing with the show, according to Wicklein, who also owns the 65th Street Slide and Ride, among other resort properties.
'A lot of vendors have grown from start up companies to big businesses, it's been really interesting to watch,' Wicklein said.
Wicklein contributed the appeal and popularity of the show to having everything under one roof in one banner weekend.
'Customers love to come to the show because it's all under one roof and its here in Ocean City,' he said.
'We've expanded the exhibit space considerably this year,' Wicklein said.
Wicklein said that allowed for an increase in the vendors and entertainment. The Arts and Crafts Fair will be held upstairs this year, allowing for 60 additional 'home show' spaces on the ground level and an expanded arts and crafts capacity.
'We had a giant leap in exhibits for both this year,' Wicklein said.
Also new this year is the show stage, which will be featuring a variety of entertainment and presentations. Headlining on the show stage will be HGTV's Wanda Colon, 'Hollywood's leading lady of design.' Wanda will be presenting her seminar, 'Giving Your Home The Star Treatment', from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday along with behind the scenes tips from her show '24 Hour Design'.
Ocean City's Deborah Walker will also be presenting on the show stage on Saturday and Sunday with her seminar, 'Entertaining In Your Home.' The show stage will also be a host to a variety of entertainment from The String Dusters to wine, beer and spirits tasting to Smart Financing Strategies with Chip Gordy Jr. of Merrill Lynch.
The Arts and Crafts Fair will have its own section this year on the second floor of the Convention Center and will present a variety of items.
'It's an eclectic mix with something for everyone,' Wicklein said, noting that a majority of the items are one of kind, handmade pieces.
Wicklein added, 'A lot of the products are geared toward accessorizing with the home show,' citing the handmade cutting boards, candles, and hand blended herbs and spices as a few examples.
The Arts and Crafts Fair will also be featuring 'fine arts row' this year with over two-dozen artists.
'We were concerned with the slowdown in the housing market, that it might have a negative affect, but just the opposite has happened. We've been able to expand the show substantially this year despite the market,' said Wicklein. •€˜The show's not only about buying homes and condos.'
Wicklein explained that people still enjoy coming out to get new ideas for their home and to see what's available. The good deals also draw people to the show, Wicklein noted.
'I personally will be doing some shopping because of the deals the vendors are offering at the show,' he said.
As for those who have never ventured out to the annual show, Wicklein encourages anyone and everyone to see what they have to offer.
'It's a nice way to spend few hours. You can walk around at your own pace and in the meantime, get the benefit of seeing things you didn't know were out there, finding things you couldn't resist and seeing a few familiar faces,' he said.
Wicklein also assured that the vendors are non-aggressive. 'It's very laid back, you make your own approaches and that's why it's worthwhile,' he said.
As for returning visitors, Wicklein promises the return of favorite vendors as well as new ones, a variety of items, presentations and entertainment, and the excitement of the new stage show. Door prizes, drawings, bargains, free parking and a $25,000 Temple Bat Yam raffle drawing are just a few of the added perks of the three-day event, Wicklein said.