Major flower, garden shows could endThe nation’s second- and third-largest flower and garden shows, which have inspired gardeners in Seattle and San Francisco for decades, will close after the 2009 events unless the business is sold before the end of March.
SEATTLE (AP) — The nation’s second- and third-largest flower and garden shows, which have inspired gardeners in Seattle and San Francisco for decades, will close after the 2009 events unless the business is sold before the end of March.
Salmon Bay Events, owners of the Northwest and San Francisco Flower & Garden shows, has been trying to sell the shows to other organizers but without success, Salmon Bay Chairman Duane Kelly said Friday.
The Northwest Flower & Garden Show will be Feb. 18-22 at the Washington State Convention & Trade Center in downtown Seattle. The San Francisco Flower & Garden Show will take place March 18-22 at the San Mateo Event Center.
“We had hoped to sell the shows to buyers that are committed to maintaining their level of quality and recognize their importance to the community,” Kelly said in a statement. “However, to date, we have been unsuccessful.”
Without a buyer emerging, Kelly said he will close the business after the San Francisco show.
“We’ve enjoyed every minute doing this the last two decades but are ready to pursue some other passions,” he said.
Discussions with a dozen possible buyers in the past four months did not lead to a deal, Kelly said, blaming the economy.
“For a variety of reasons, the fit wasn’t right, or the timing wasn’t right. The capital markets are tough,” he told The Seattle Times.
For between $1 million and $2 million, a buyer could get the Seattle and San Francisco show, Salmon Bay Events’ staff of nine people, trademarks, customer lists and long-term venue agreements.
Kelly, 59, said he will entertain offers through March, when he plans to start focusing on a new career writing plays, and spending more time with his wife, Alice.
“I had to look deep within myself before I made this decision,” he said. “But it’s time for me to move on.”
The Northwest show was the first public event produced at the Seattle convention center after the venue opened in 1988. It is the largest annual event at the center in terms of attendance.
The Seattle show has grown to be the nation’s second-largest flower show after a similar event in Philadelphia, which began in 1829. The San Francisco show is third-largest.
Annual attendance ranges between 40,000 and 80,000 for the Seattle and San Francisco shows, Kelly said.
Last year’s show in Seattle attracted 54,000 people, down from a peak of 84,000 in 1999.
The show makes money from vendor fees, ticket sales and corporate sponsorships, Kelly said. As attendance has decreased over the past decade, sponsorships have offset lost revenues, he said.
People who look forward to the shows each year call them an advance rite of spring in late winter, “when we’re all so starved for color and flowers,” said Valerie Easton, who writes a garden column for The Seattle Times’ weekend magazine. “You see people all over downtown carrying potted orchids and cut branches of pussy willows. They’re just taking that spring home with them.”
On the Net:
Garden Shows: http:// www.gardenshow.com
Washington State Convention Center: http:// www.wsctc.com