2020 was hard enough on the trade show industry, once a 15-billion dollar industry and now recovering from the after-effects of COVID-19 these small owner-operated businesses want nothing more than a weekend show. Many who did not get a chance to set up last year in 2020, lost a year's worth of earnings and many shut down forever. As things return to normal, shows are starting to pop up, but are they real?
One recent news tip shows that there are scammers posing as event coordinators on platforms like Facebook. The poor business owner hung on to her business through selling online and had to work twice as hard last year to earn half as much as she did in 2019. As expected, she was thrilled to find a promising show in Indianapolis for the first weekend in May, all she had to do was register and pay $75.00 for her spot, which she did through a service called Whatsapp. Amy, the small business owner prepped for almost a month, building up her inventory, asked her brother with a truck to use a vacation day so they could drive from Wabash Indiana to the south side of Indianapolis to set up at 10:00 AM they even drove down the night before and stayed in a hotel using a credit card she was confident that she could sell enough merchandise to cover the bill, they drove over from the hotel to the location off of US 31 South to discover there were nine other confused people in the parking lot all who were being told that there was no show set. The unnamed location had a private wedding booked and the bridal party was confused as to who were these people in trucks and vans bringing up tubs of product to the front door of her venue on what is to be the biggest day of her life.
The event coordinator (or fake, should we say) had removed the profile they used on Facebook to book the victims and also removed the event page to the show that they used to market vendors to book space. Amy called her bank to see if they could help her recover the money booked, or at least attempt to track down the scammer only to find out because she booked the show back in January that there was nothing they could do to recover the lost funds. She contacted Facebook, Whatsapp, and even the merchant processing company behind her debit card all to get the same answer.
So here she is, out $75.00 for the show, $60.00 in fuel, $40 for dinner for her brother and herself, and $184.00 for a hotel room. That was a $359.00 slap to the face along with the loss of opportunity when she could have set up somewhere else. When we first spoke to Amy, we decided to give her a visa gift card worth $360.00 through The Funded Project to help her recover her loss. After this happened, we decided to look into some of these to see if they are real. We cannot say for a fact if the ones we reviewed are real or fake, so we want to inform the community of some useful tips to make sure that you can make informed decisions.
In Facebook, look at the profile that posted the event, does the profile look real, is it new?
Contact the venue before filling out any paperwork or providing payment.
Ask friends in your industry if they know about the show.
Google the event, after all, it is an event and any show coordinator would have it posted everywhere anyone would see it and attend.
Call the local permits office where the event is to happen and see if they have a permit for the show. (not all communities will require one)
Search for events through the chamber of commerce.
Contact county fairgrounds to ask about events.
Last year, we hosted the Gift and Hobby Show at the Rangeline Community Center in Anderson, and we want to host more events, but like many businesses in Indiana, we are also struggling to find staffing for managing it. We are still going to do something this summer, and attend the Turn Away No Longer Summer Days event on July 10th, and encourage others to check it out. We hope this helps these small businesses we are rooting for you!
Join Circle City Magazine at the T.N.A.L. 1st annual car show on July 10th, 2021 at New Horizons Methodist Church located at 611 E. 53rd St Anderson IN.
Learn more about this event by visiting the event page on Facebook! The hottest show of the summer.
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Written by Richard Moghadam
Circle City Magazine
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