Economic downturn has more people thinking renovations

This year’s edition of the Calgary Renovation Show  was all about helping renovation firms reach new clients after a slow business year.

The show, at BMO Centre at Stampede Park Jan. 13-15, featured Jillian Harris of Love it or List it Vancouver and and home improvement expert Mike Holmes Jr.

But the main action was on the exhibition floor, where local firms of all kinds did their best to try to attract the attention of visitors checking out the options for improving their own homes.

Susan Nickell, a design consultant with Merit Kitchens, said her company is hopeful for a busier 2017. It is the third year that she has taken part in the reno event.

“There are a lot of activities at these shows. A lot of people are interested, but not many are pulling the trigger to go through a renovation,” Nickell said.

In addition to creating custom cabinets for kitchens, Merit Kitchens also specializes in bathrooms, bars, and other rooms within a house. The company has been featured on Love it or List it Vancouver.

“It’s a great opportunity. Our product is promoted, and we’re happy to contribute,” Nickell said.

The show attracts all sorts of companies, including realtors. Rui Torneiro has been working in that industry for 15 years.

“I always worked in sales and owned some of my own rental properties. I took the necessary courses and got started as a real estate agent with my brother as my partner,” Torneiro said.


“Instead of moving into a new house, people will just renovate a few rooms in their house. People who renovate their home are looking to stay. They trust the good job we do,” said Torneiro.

“[Homeowners renovate for two reasons], for personal home enjoyment or for resell. If people want to renovate for resell, they typically renovate for kitchens or bathrooms.”

Braden Walker has worked with Interiors with Elegance for a year and a half. In addition to the renovation show, the company will attend two other home shows this year.

“These shows create a lot of buzz for us. We book leads and reach new clients. We book consultations and get people thinking about renovations,” Walker said.

Due to the struggling economy in Calgary, business has slowed down from the boom years, but has remained steady because of the home shows.

While many companies have been affected by the economy, others have not.

Mark Chittick of Upscale Hardwood said his firm has seen an increase in clients.

“We buy wholesale and sell direct. We buy in bulk and sell at a reasonable rate. The price is what sets us apart,” said Chittick.

Upscale Hardwood relies on home shows. This was its first year in the Calgary Renovation Show, but the company has attended others in the past.

“It’s really competitive. We want our customers to be satisfied. We also want to generate more work during the downturn,” Chittick said.

There are a lot of activities at these shows. A lot of people are interested but not many are pulling the trigger to go through a renovation. –Susan Nickell

For Torneiro, the best way to reach new clients is through referrals from clients and media advertising.

“People are having trouble qualifying for a mortgage and putting a downpayment on a house,” he said.

About Madeline Burton 7 Articles
As a writing and communications major in the journalism program at SAIT, Madeline Burton is working as a reporter for The Press during the 2016-17 academic year.