TULSA, Ok. – This weekend, one of the more prolific prepper expo promoters is holding its second survival trade show of 2018. But RK Prepper Shows won’t hosting the only event catering to consumers of survival and self-reliance gear and educational opportunities.
With the new, national and most-complete expo schedule published to date, all of the announced trade show dates and locations give residents of almost every state a chance to attend one near them.
In partnership with Prepper Shows USA, Paratus Business News published a schedule of 34 currently scheduled events focused on self-reliance, DIY, back-to-basics, preparedness and survival.
Each of these expos offer attendees access to homesteading products, survival and tactical gear, medical equipment, emergency food storage and even survival bunkers.
Not All Good News
But while 22 states round out the year as host to these events, not all the news is good.
Several promoters either closed completely or pulled back on the number of shows in 2018. The Sustainable Preparedness Expo, traditionally held in Oregon and Tennessee, shuttered its doors indefinitely.
RK Prepper Shows, which hosted a record 17 events in 2017, has currently only announced eight expos this year. Making matters worse for most survival and sustainable living vendors is that only two of RK’s seven remaining shows are focused on preparedness and “green living.” The rest of its shows are gun shows combined with survival, which doesn’t always translate into a positive experience to exhibitors and attendees.
One such promoter of combination gun and preparedness shows in the Mid-Atlantic region, SGK, has not scheduled any shows for 2018. Last year, it held at least five.
The reasons for the reduction in trade show events is obvious to most industry observers and businesses – a lack of crowds.
Virtually every show promoter last year reported smaller than anticipated crowds. A reporter for Paratus Business News witnessed much smaller crowds at several shows than what the promoters expected.
But There is Hope
One promoter that sold his expo partly based on shrinking audiences was Ron Douglas of the Self Reliance Expo held in Texas and Colorado. He and several of his regular vendors reported smaller audiences in 2017.
But Douglas also was not fully committed to his expo’s success. The promoter had found a new passion in business development and was focused growing that business.
His loss was Kiki Bandilla’s gain.
Bandilla, along with her husband, discovered a passion and need for self-reliance four years ago, and today she’s planning to use her enthusiasm, marketing prowess combined with corporate management experience and skills to turn this much needed consumer-based format around.
“I have consulted for several start-ups, helping them build their corporate infrastructure,” Bandilla said in an interview. “Throughout my career I have also consistently been involved in some form of sales, marketing and or business development, including having been president of the Las Vegas High Rise Association.”
To date, she set two expos in 2018, one in Mesquite, Texas and the other in Denver. If they are successful, she plans to expand the model in areas where other expos exited the business.
One aspect that sets her apart is that unlike some of the less motivated promoters, she is not relying on exhibitors to fill the speaker schedule. The Self Reliance Expo in Dallas boasts nationally-relevant and regionally-popular speakers.
“We understand the investment of time and money each of our exhibitors make to participate. We are leaving no stone unturned to attract a great audience and create an incredible experience for them to want what you have,” she recently told vendors.
For attendees, the new SRE will create “an experience focused on preparedness, survival, sustainability and homesteading basics, helping individuals and families find their path back-to-the-basics, resurrecting time-honored traditions and adopting their idea of a simpler life filled with great adventure or simply, great peace.”
Other expo leaders are building on successful shows and attempting to perfect their own formula as they trudge on with expos in 2018.
Kevin Murphy, owner of the Bullseye Preparedness & Outdoors Expo, is taking the lessons he learned form his 2017 Gatlinburg, Tenn. event to Charleston, W.VA. in 2018.
The team of Oath Keepers hosting the Ohio Prepper Show is building on a good year to host its second event, this time in Bowling Green, Ohio.
The Great Lakes Emergency Preparedness Expo held in Michigan also is building on a good year to host its second event.
And of course, the folks in Utah, particular the promoter of PrepperCon continue to present a strong event with one of the nation’s largest groups of vendors to serve massive crowds.