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New IMEX show in Nashville leaves room for improvement

The first IMEX show in Nashville had little public attendance and has room to grow.

Logoi courtesy of IMEX, building image courtesy of Music City Center.

The first International Money Exposition at the Music City Center in Nashville, Tennessee, was an attempt to bring a high-quality show to central Tennessee for the first time in many years. On many fronts, it showed it will take more time and effort to get to the level of high quality and attract more of the international presence.

The event, spearheaded by Nashville-area dealer Col. Steve Ellsworth, assisted by Gary Adkins of Gary Adkins Associates, faced numerous challenges from the start. The organizers knew they weren’t going to be able to please everyone; they just wanted to build a destination for the present and the future.

The time was right for the idea of bringing the event to Nashville. Tennessee governor Bill Lee signed House Bill 1874 into law in May 2022, ending the sales tax on gold, silver and platinum, turning the Volunteer State into a dealer-friendly location.

After what was considered by many to be a positive “dealer day” on Thursday, the show opened to the public for the first of two days on Friday. A good crowd gathered to register and view opening ceremonies with special guest Steve Forbes, co-author of Inflation What It Is, Why It’s Bad, and How To Fix It, joined by Tennessee legislators, NCBA Executive Director David Crenshaw and Adkins in presenting remarks. The crowd filed in, but the number who came out early provided a misleading sense of optimism. Public attendance for the rest of the day was slow and the Saturday attendance was far less. For those who came to deal with the collectors on the retail side, there was little opportunity.

While aesthetically pleasing, the placement of pipe and drape at every booth raised security concerns from tableholders. Costs were also an issue as some expenses were higher than customary, especially hotel rates. The public had to pay a $10 entry fee on top of parking expenses at the convention center. To make matters worse, the downtown area saw streets blocked off on Saturday for a marathon race event, making access more challenging. A planned Sunday dealer day saw little attendance.

The future of the show will rest on the promoters’ ability to overcome initial objections. There is room for improvement, but that’s almost always the case and it’ll be a story that bears watching in the months ahead.

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