Marketplace Events Grows Its Holiday Consumer Show Footprint With Multiple Acquisitions and Launches
North America’s largest consumer show producer, Marketplace Events (MPE), is continuing to make a strong post-pandemic comeback by significantly expanding its holiday show portfolio with the acquisition of three large holiday shows and two launches.
On June 15, the company purchased The Pennsylvania Christmas & Gift Show, which runs at the PA Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg, from Pennsylvania Christmas Show. As one of the East Coast’s largest holiday shows, the five-day event attracts 500 exhibitors and 30,000 attendees each year.
Prior to that, on May 4, MPE acquired the state of Colorado’s largest holiday event, the Colorado Country Christmas Gift Show, from Showcase Events. Held at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver, the annual show convenes 500 exhibitors and 20,000 attendees.
Finally, on April 29, the company scooped up one of the largest holiday shows in the Midwest, the Cleveland Christmas Connection, from Industry Realty Group (IRG). Hosted annually at the I-X Center, it draws in 600 exhibitors and more than 35,000 attendees.
“By any measure, the three acquisitions are all best-in-class events,” said Tom Baugh, CEO of Marketplace Events, which produces some of the most successful and longest-running consumer shows in North America. “Tens of thousands of shoppers visit these shows each year and consider them part of their annual holiday traditions – as do an overwhelming majority of exhibitors.”
In tandem with these purchases, MPE is gearing up to launch two holiday events: the Oklahoma Christmas Show, running Nov. 11-13 at the Bennett Event Center in Oklahoma City and the Atlanta Holiday Boutique in November 2023 at the newly renovated GAS South Convention Center in Duluth, Ga. The company already operates five successful home and garden shows in these two cities annually, according to MPE officials.
With these holiday show additions, MPE now boasts 77 annual B2C events in 34 markets, including 10 holiday events, 65 home shows and two wedding shows. But the company isn’t stopping there—it plans to continue expanding its holiday market presence going forward, according to Baugh.
“Our holiday shows have performed brilliantly, even during the pandemic, so we won’t hesitate to take advantage of any meaningful opportunities to grow our holiday portfolio,” he said.
Like all trade show and event producers during the pandemic, MPE was forced to retract its business, with COVID forcing the cancellation of 78 shows in 2020 and 2021. At its low point in August of 2020, the company had no alternative but to reduce its staff from 150 to only 19 people. However, MPE has since rebounded quickly, rehiring in late 2020 and producing 35 shows where local health and safety protocols permitted in 2021.
“As we learned in March 2020, you can’t prepare for what you can’t predict,” Baugh said. “Event producers are a tough and savvy group, but all of us agree, our shared existential challenges of the past 27 months have been extreme.”
He continued, “Our show community has rallied together in amazing ways. It’s no surprise many are eager to face a post-COVID future, while for others, it’s the right time to exit. Thankfully, MPE is resilient and well-positioned to resume our pre-COVID trajectory and act with urgency on growth opportunities.”
According to Baugh, the company is now running its full schedule of more than 70 shows, and staffing is back up to 110 employees and growing.
“The furloughs in August 2020 were the lowest point for our company—we had no choice but to let go of wonderful, talented people, [and] the pain was palpable,” Baugh said. “Fast forward to today, where more than 90% of our staff are former employees, many who chose to leave other jobs to return to Marketplace Events. That’s something we’re very thankful for and proud of. When we were able to invite people back to work, almost everyone chose to return.”