Home garden show advance

Bill Pitt, of the Ace Hardware store in Galloway Township, looks at a Big Green Egg ceramic smoker-cooker that’s part of the business’ display in the  New Jersey Home & Garden Show in Atlantic City.  

Edward Lea

The annual New Jersey Home & Garden Show opening Friday in Atlantic City will be bigger — not in spite of Hurricane Sandy, but partly because of the storm.

“We’ve come back very strong,” said Megan Walker, show manager. “I think the hurricane actually helped the show because people are rebuilding, and we have exhibitors coming from farther away because they’re doing work in the Atlantic City area.”

An improving economy that has consumers considering discretionary purchases will also boost the show, as it did the recent RV and auto shows in the city and other home shows managed by Show Technology Productions.

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“Our northeast Pennsylvania show (in Wilkes-Barre) sold out and had a waiting list for new exhibitors, and the same thing at our Reading show and all of our January and February shows, especially in the Northeast,” Walker said.

She said that two weeks ahead of the 13th annual N.J. Home & Garden Show, she already had 30 more exhibitors than last year, “with quite a few still pending.”

Businesses in the region have strong expectations for the show.

JSA Landscapes, of Egg Harbor Township, has exhibited for four years and this year also will display its new unit, the Grounds Guys.

“The show seems to be doing better and better each year, and last year we did really well at it,” said Shawn Anderson, managing member of JSA and general manager of the Grounds Guys. “It’s really the only avenue for the local market as far as shows go.”

Anderson, 53, of Egg Harbor Township, said JSA’s exhibit will include a waterfall, a little pond area and pavers, while a maintenance trailer and equipment will help explain what the Grounds Guys franchise offers in landscape management.

“The format is convenient for showgoers, who can talk to you, wander around and see what’s there. For us, it’s been a good venue. We make contacts and later some of them have jobs they want done,” he said.

The local Ace Hardware co-op member, Joe Smith, who has five stores in Atlantic County and one in Vineland, will be back after success last year displaying grills, said Bill Pitt, of the Galloway Township store.

“We had good success with the Big Green Egg ceramic smoker-cookers. They’ve developed a cult following,” said Pitt, of Egg Harbor Township.

Smith’s Ace stores will also display a new product that should do well in the shore market: Amish-crafted composite deck furniture, including chairs, chaises and tables.

“They’re very solid, and the weight helps them from being blown off decks,” Pitt said. “We display them at the Brigantine store, and they’re holding up very well.”

The stores started getting them last year from Lancaster, Pa., and a dealer in Williamstown, and they start at about $250. “They’re high end, but you’re getting the quality, and they’re going to last,” he said.

Walker, who has managed the show since 2006 and lives in Nicholson, Pa., said the gift, art and gourmet sections are also popular with attendees. The fee for exhibit space this year starts at $1,095.

Besides more than 130 vendors, the home and garden show will have seminars on basketry by Debra Simpson, from the Ivy Cottage in Forked River, and on solar power options from Solar Works NJ, of Washington Township, Gloucester County.

Roger Hazard, the home stager on the cable show “Sell This House,” will offer techniques for quickly and inexpensively improving the look and function of a home.

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