Tara Vreeland, News On 6
TULSA, Oklahoma -- A trade show touted as the "largest hunting and outdoor exhibition in the Midwest," turned out to be everything but.
Thousands of dollars were spent and thousands of people were expected, but that wasn't the case at the Tulsa Convention Center.
The organizer says some of the biggest names in hunting outfitters and fishing lodges were on hand at the Tulsa convention Center.
It was supposed to be the best yet.
They took aim at an attendance of 20,000, but really missed the target - only about 500 showed.
The Global Sporting Expo had all the elements. The brand new Tulsa Convention Center, booths and vendors from 19 countries and the lure of deep discounts on hunts and fishing trips.
"We had a great show, everything looked great… The public just didn't show up," said Tyler Lowery, Global Sporting Expos.
The Arkansas based company says it spent more than $50,000 in advertising alone.
"In hindsight, we probably should have put the money into billboards after speaking with other producers that do shows in that market like the Tulsa gun show and the Tulsa boat shows," Lowry said.
Lowery says they expected to profit $100,000 and another $30,000 for charities, but instead, they lost $120,000.
Some of the vendors, like White Peaks Ranch out of Utah, say the excitement to hit the Oklahoma market turned sour. And they say they feel scammed.
"If it was a scam, we wouldn't be here. We wouldn't have spent the money to get the venue. We wouldn't have spent the money to get the booths set up. Insurance for the event. I wouldn't have stood at the venue all three days if it was a scam," Lowery said.
Though it wasn't a total loss, Lowery says one in ten consumers bought a hunt.
"If we had the numbers that were projected to have, and paid for in advertising it would have been one of the most successful shows in the country," he said.
But the touted "best" experienced the "worst" due to the no-shows.
Lowrey says they counted on the Tulsa market to be a launch pad for other hunting trade shows. But after this weekend's flop, they say they have to step back and reevaluate.
They do not have any other shows planned for this year.