17 October, Las Vegas

   For an event where expectations were uncertain at best, the 2008 StonExpo Marmomacc Americas seems destined to get a passing grade.
   Or, as one exhibitor said, “you get what you get, and you’re happy.”

   While some exhibiting companies turned out to be no shows – including a Chinese eight-booth cluster right across from the Stone Business stand – most vendors showed up yesterday morning to see if anyone came in the door. A crowd of several hundred showed up at 10 a.m. opening time yesterday and today, with a steady, if not huge, feed of attendees following the early crowd throughout the early afternoon hours.
   Exhibitors aren’t picky about customers, as long as there’s cash involved in the deal. Most manufacturers noted that business this year is off by 30 percent to 40 percent; there’s no lack of people willing to buy, but bank financing and leasing isn’t available.
   That’s making the movement of large machines on the floor a bit tough. However, it’s a boon to tooling sellers and others with smaller-scale goods. Attendees are willing to buy something, as long as they can afford it.
   And, they’re finding deals. One guy came in a booth looking for a spindle adapter for a grinding wheel he’d just bought. He didn’t mind the $50 or so for the adapter; the grinding wheel retails for $2,000, but he got it for $600.
   Slower economic times often lead to more tire-kicking at a show, but exhibitors by and large praised the quality of the attendees. “At least we’re seeing decision-makers,” said one vendor. “They’re not buying now, but they’ll buy later.”
   One advantage this year is that StoneExpo Marmomacc Americas isn’t the only game running in the Mandalay Bay Convention Center. The Barrett-Jackson automotive-auction show is running at the same time, with huge crowds milling through the facility. While few of the motorheads are going to wander into the show – in fact, some StonExpo exhibitors and attendees are sliding in to see the auction – it gives the whole building a fairly busy look.
   Next year, StoneExpo Marmomacc Americas moves back to the Las Vegas Convention Center, and also slides down another week in October. The schedule move should give more European exhibitors a chance to exhibit at the large Verona show, and also give those attending both shows a little more of a breather.
   And, in 2009, it’ll be another year. Hopefully, a better one.

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