Scott’s stepping in for me today with his review of the Cleveland Home and Remodeling Expo. Considering he does most of the home improvement projects in our house, I figured he might be better suited for this one. Plus, it gives me an excuse to share this photo from the show:
I’ve been very eager to get into the Cleveland Convention Center (CCC) ever since construction completed. I’d read varying reports of how others experienced and explored the subterranean show space, and I wanted to see it for myself.
I love conventions and have been to my fair share of convention spaces. The Cleveland Convention Center’s unique construction intrigued me. So when we had the opportunity to attend The Cleveland Home and Remodeling Expo (H+R Expo), which was hosted within Cleveland’s new expo center, I was quite excited.
The overhanging question, of course, is how both the H+R Expo and the CCC compare to their big brothers, The Great Big Home & Garden Show and the I-X Center respectively. I can summarize the comparison for both with one statement: sometimes smaller is more satisfying.
Regarding the show space itself, the most noticeable thing stepping into the CCC is that it is shockingly, pleasantly quiet. As Amanda and I walked around we encountered large groups, especially in the back where a presentation was going on, but never did I hear the dull background “roar” of noise I’ve come to expect from similarly larger convention halls. It generally felt that if I could see it, I could hear it, but not much buzz beyond that was getting to me.
Being underground, the CCC has none of the high windows that can be seen at the I-X Center. But their absence did not bother me or give me a sense of being contained beneath the street level. Both the I-X and CCC rely on artificial light regardless of the presence of windows, and the lack of them meant there was nothing to remind me of the “outside world” and my relativity to it. Once I was in the CCC and walking around, I didn’t think twice about my sea level altitude. It was nice.
The CCC’s more compact square footage also meant that food, drink, and restrooms never felt like a hike. We didn’t partake of any of the food, but the available options appeared clean, bright, and had reasonable lines. A leisurely pace from one end of the show space to the other would only take a few minutes, so if you’ve traveled into the middle of the expo, almost everything is fairly close to you in every direction. The convention center’s location in downtown Cleveland also means if you want to venture outside for a restaurant, you have plenty of options.
Looking at the H+R Expo itself, the smaller number of sellers was actually really nice. Although there were some stands I remembered seeing at The Great Big Home & Garden Show, this wasn’t a bad thing because they were stands I was happy to see again. And each booth seemed truly relevant to the “Home and Remodeling” theme. If you’ve ever walked around a large convention’s floor, you sometimes run into vendors who are only tangentially (or not at all) related to the show’s niche. The reduced availability of spaces actually created more relevant variety.
Of course, the smaller space means less grandeur. There were some awesome things to see – such as the inflated pod house pictured above and some pieces we recognized from a beer garden that had displayed at the Great Big Show. But we didn’t find any massive gardens or landscapes constructed in the CCC.
The upside of this is that I wasn’t completely beat after our first walkthrough of the aisles and displays. Amanda and I actually shopped at the H+R Expo. For the first time in a long time when we said “We’ll come back and get this after we’ve looked around,” we really did go back and do it. We bought a hanging planter, wine mixers, and bar ware.
While I’ve found The Great Big Show is great for generating ideas and checking out things we may buy in the future, the H+R Expo was small and focused in such a way that I actually had the energy to spend some money then and there.
So to wrap things up, at the end of the day the CCC’s smaller size and the H+R Expo’s more focused theme meant that it didn’t feel like the end of the day when Amanda and I left.
I can confidently say that the Cleveland region is quite big enough for two convention centers and two home shows, where one is more about grandeur and concept and the other more about personal experience. Because a funny thought struck me as we were coming out of the Cleveland Convention Center’s Home and Remodeling Expo: this was the first time I’d been to a convention where I actually had the time – and energy – to stop and smell the roses.
Well, flowers anyway. It was a nice change of pace.