Some Eastern Panhandle Home Builders Show exhibitors say it's best show in a decade

March 13, 2011|By RICHARD F. BELISLE |

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Everything from Tupperware to toilets, from gates to high-tech gutters that could hold back enough water to "float Noah's Ark" was available at the Eastern Panhandle Home Builders Show this past weekend.

The show, sponsored for the 16th year by the nonprofit Eastern Panhandle Home Builders Association, hosted 230 exhibitors, a sellout, at the Martinsburg Mall, said J.W. Wohlever, association president.

"We didn't sell out in the last two years because of the economy, but we did this year," Wohlever said. "We always hope our exhibitors get business at the show and after talking to some of them, they say this is the best show they've seen in 10 years."

There were fewer patrons this year, said Tim Pownell, vice president of Centra Bank, who was working a booth.

"The quality of the people here is better this year," Pownell said. "They're not just coming to fill a bag with gifts. Some of the builders and contractors say they are picking up some legitimate business."

Tripp Spaur, co-owner of J R Jefferson Rentals on Mildred Street in Ranson, W.Va., was at his booth explaining his line of rental party, tool and construction equipment. Spaur was standing next to a large "mini excavator with a hammer," which smashes big rocks. Behind him was a "pull-behind pig-roaster," handy for well-attended backyard pig roasts.

At $119 for the weekend, Spaur said "it's a lot cheaper to rent this and buy your own pig than pay to have someone do it for you. That can cost $700 to $1,000."

He rents cotton candy-making machines and popcorn poppers, tables, chairs and tents for home parties, plus tillers, home-gardening and landscaping tools.

Mike Witty of Ferguson Enterprises of Wincheser, Va., was handing out raffle tickets to win a $340 Mirabelle Bradenton state-of-the art toilet that "provides a dynamic flush with a small volume of water."

Down another aisle snaking through the mall, Mickie Beatty was at her station, one of the busiest of the day. Her Tupperware line was drawing in women.

Beatty also offered raffle prizes, one for a free piece of Tupperwaare, the other for a free Tupperware party.

"I have one of almost everything," said Lana Cottrell of Martinsburg, who used to sell the popular plastic containers and kitchenware. "I don't need anything today, but I want to pick up a few pieces for my mother."

Cottrell's favorite piece is that "lunchmeat thing. It keeps lunchmeat really fresh."

Beatty looked up the item in her catalog and said its official name is "fridge stackable."

Over at L.R. Wilson's Seamless Gutters of McConnellsburg, Pa., Kris Sheffield was telling how he and his partner, Mark Lutz, made gutters from one piece, no matter how long the gutter has to be.

"We make them on-site," he said showing their truck, its rolls of materials inside and the machine that makes the gutters.

But it was their Gutter Topper that caught the eye. The device, which sits atop a gutter, forces enough water off the roof into the gutter with nary an overflow, even "at 22 inches of rainfall per hour ... enough to float Noah's Ark in just one day," their brochure said.

Lee Morrison of Gerald Taylor Co., of Williamsport, was showing his line of real, not man-made, stone for fireplaces, landscaping and general construction. Lined up on his counter were river stone, flagstone and granite.

The number and range of products and services spread through the mall was too vast to name. An interior designer had a booth, as did banks, and real estate and mortgage companies. Home builders and remodelers were in abundance.

Products for the professional and the home handyman, landscaper and gardener were displayed, including windows, garage door openers, hot tubs and Berkeley Springs Natural Spring Water.

Bo Bratley's booth was promoting the West Virginia Rumble in the Valley, which he boasted could draw 10,000 bikers to Berkeley County in June.

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