Marine Depot: How was the turnout at Reef-A-Palooza this year?
Kevin Adams, President, Southern California Marine Aquarium Society: I had placed a conservative estimate of 1,500 attendees for Reef-A-Palooza 2007. The actual turnout exceeded 2,000 attendees, not counting ~250 vendors, a dozen or so staff, and another two dozen assistants. I knew precisely how significant the Southern California market was in terms of marine aquarium hobbyists, so I personally expected this number. However, I was compelled to “publicly” advertised an estimate of only 1,500 attendees for the sake of conservatism and credibility, so our actual numbers exceeded this estimate by a significant margin.
MD: What were your goals for this year’s event?
KA: My intention was to provide a complete smorgasbord of vendors for our attendees to enjoy. Hobbyists in this particular industry are undeniably as unique and diverse as their own fingerprints. As such, it is nearly impossible to zero in on a particular core concept that will satisfy everyone in attendance. Many come to purchase frags and rare corals, others come to see the latest technology available in marine aquarium equipment, while some would prefer to see an educational presentation. Therefore, I wanted to present a “mixed floor” of booths ranging from the mere hobbyist seller to the largest international corporation. I wanted to broaden the scope of what we provide to the furthest possible extent so that nearly anyone who attends Reef-A-Palooza would find their particular niche to enjoy. I think we provided that service beautifully.
MD: What’d you think of all the frags on display?
KA: “OH MY GOSH I’VE NEVER SEEN SO MANY AWESOME CORALS IN ONE PLACE IN MY ENTIRE LIFE!” This was overheard from one particular RAP attendee and apparently represents a reaction shared by many others as it was repeated numerous times in one form or another. I’d have to say we hit the jackpot in livestock displays! One MAJOR issue that I emphasized to my vendors over and over again is to NOT underestimate the sales potential of Reef-A-Palooza. At RAP 2006 (in Marine Depot’s parking lot) nearly all the livestock vendors sold out of their stock within the first hour and a half! Those attendees arriving in the afternoon last year were rather disappointed in what was left available when they arrived. I made sure that this did not happen to RAP 2007. Evidently the vendors took my advice to heart because there were more corals, frags, and other livestock than you could shake a stick at! By that I mean, there were not a few here and there….there were tens of thousands! I was extremely impressed with one particular vendor who was promoting the sale of captive-bred tropical marine fish. THIS is the future of our hobby and the cutting-edge practices and technology that I love to see exploited at Reef-A-Palooza!