For those that have been around GTA for a while, this is old news. But with the addition of 10-20 new members DAILY, from time to time it's necessary to revisit these facts.
GTA Forums is not and never will be a sponsored site. We do not sell advertising. Our entire purpose is to be THE source on the internet for all things airgun. We want to bring everyone together under one roof, no matter how far fetched that goal seems to be.
We do have airgun vendors as members. We have a small set of requirements that a vendor must meet before we will consider adding them to our official list of supported vendors. But basically they need to have a website where their products are visible, prices clearly displayed and contact information is available. The most important requirement is that they demonstrate ethical business practices. When these requirements are met, the forum administrative staff will have a round-table discussion about an applicant and we must reach a unanimous decision to grant them official GTA vendor status. If approved, we set them up a vendor gate and add their banner in rotation at the bottom of every forum page. We also add them to our GTA Mall page. If you do not see a vendor listed here, then there is a reason for that. We will not allow flaming of anyone here so we feel that saying nothing says a lot. We also support those that support us!!! And any vendor that is granted GTA vendor status should be respected and they can feel a sense of pride in maintaining the BEST of the best in business practices.
Now, GTA Forums has operating expenses, as any online entity does. But we operate on donations only. These donations come from our outstanding members and our member/vendors. Our vendors donate items that we put up for monthly raffles. The funds generated from these raffles go completely toward maintaining our forum and for events such as our annual fun shoot. And the items go to our members. It's a win-win situation for all. I hope this explains how we operate and how the vendors are involved. We support those that support us!!!
Now, for an apology. We have always held our annual Fun Shoot at Gene's home in Belton, SC. But during the 2014 event, he told me he didn't think he could do it again, as much as it broke his heart. He just was not able to get around well enough to do all of the prep. It was up to me to find a new venue and plan the event. After putting out requests, we were blessed to have Hargis Davis of the Gallatin County KY fairgrounds contact me to offer his facilities to us. Joe, Rich and myself drove up and looked things over last November and decided this was an almost perfect alternative to hold the event. We started making plans.
Since it was a larger venue with more facilities, I thought it would be neat to make this a Fun Shoot/Airgun Show. If we did, we could invite our vendors to come out and set up and show what they had. It would give them the chance to interact with their GTA family and just enjoy the event as all of us have in the past. We would not be competing with events like the Shot Show....not yet anyway.
I did not want to lose sight as to exactly WHAT this event was held for, and that was more of a GTA family reunion. But I thought it would be a great opportunity for our vendors. So we put out the notices and asked our vendors to attend. I DID make a list of replies and had a total of 22 tables reserved for their use. I will admit that I was very busy during the event, and even though I TRIED to meet and greet everyone, I could not be in all places all the time. I tried to get with our vendors and let them set up the way they wanted. But during the setup, a couple of vendors showed up that I was not aware of nor did I have tables reserved for. I thought Hargis invited them and he thought I had invited them. One vendor took up a lot of room and several of the reserved tables. One vendor has never been a part of GTA Forums and I still do not know how he was aware of the event. Even though we are always welcoming to anyone, I felt it disrespectful for anyone to just drop in unannounced and take reserved tables without even checking with event staff. Normal shows charge anywhere from $50-150 per table. We charged nothing. Because of this, one of our vendors had to set up outside the vendor area. This made him understandably a bit upset and made me a lot upset. I am a kind person but this will not happen again. Neither of these vendors offered to support our forum or event at all. Whereas ALL of your GTA vendors did donate items for raffle or door prizes. Even the ones that did not attend the event. We support those that support us!!!
Since this was the first year at this venue, and the first time to officially call it a Fun Shoot/Airgun Show, we really did not have a clue how it was going to turn out. The amount of folks that I anticipated being there did not materialize. I am VERY proud of each and every one of our members that showed but I expected at least double that. Oh well, great expectations. LOL
The whole purpose is to have a great time which we did. I will apologize for not managing the vendor area better and also if I gave any vendor the impression that this was an airgun show as the Shot Show. I know that for some of you, this is your livelihood. And having a poor turnout costs you money. If you came to just sell, I know you were probably disappointed. But MOST vendors did what I wanted to see. They got out and mingled, demonstrated, talked, met and even competed with their GTA family. You have no idea how happy I was to see that. MOST of our attending vendors had a great time doing a Fun Shoot first and an Airgun Show second. Something I feel is quite different for them. But again, please keep these things in mind for next year. We WANT to see you and the rest of our vendors back, but want you to really enjoy it and relax for a change.
And I promise the vendor area will be better managed. ALL vendors will have to check in with event staff. If you are not a GTA reserved vendor or not a GTA member at all and wanting to set up, you will have to wait until we see what space we have left available once the reserved vendors set up. We WILL make every effort to accommodate everyone and make everyone happy. TRY....
Again, thank you one and all for attending. I like the venue and it will only grow from here on. But no matter how it grows, it is STILL first and foremost a GTA Fun Shoot and family reunion that Gene envisioned.
And it continues only because of and FOR you!!!
And as always....SAFE & Happy Shooting!!!!