GAMA Expo wrapped up its first Louisville, Kentucky show with record numbers, organizers announced at a public board meeting late Wednesday.  According to those preliminary numbers total attendees were at 2736, up 34% from the previous year.  890 retailers attended, up from 562 in 2023, representing 436 stores, up from 373 in the previous year.  Exhibit booths were up by about the same ratio, to 300 from 192 at the Peppermill in Reno, Nevada last year.

Attendees also included 130 creators, 187 publishers that did not exhibit, and 100 media representatives.

Exhibit hall on Wednesday.
Exhibitor and attendee reviews of the recently remodeled Kentucky International Convention Center, where most events were held, were generally positive.  The exhibit space was vastly expanded over last year’s space, there were ample spots for meetings, and there was plenty of space for publisher rooms and presentations.

The additional exhibitors and expanded exhibit space meant that aisles were mostly uncrowded, and publishers were generally available to speak to attendees.  On the flip side, we wonder whether the large number of new exhibitors were successful in attracting the attention they’d hoped; while there was a steady flow to the booths of well-known companies, we observed new booths where there were no retailer conversations taking place, especially on Thursday.

The conveniently located convention hotel, the Galt House, was a step down from the Peppermill Resort where the show was held the last few years: the Galt House had a 2.6 Yelp rating vs. the 3.8 rating the Peppermill received from the same site.

ICv2 Managing Editor Jeffrey Dohm-Sanchez returned home early after a rash appeared on his upper extremities after his first night in the hotel.  Concerned that he was having an allergic reaction, he asked hotel housekeeping staff for a change of bedding and was immediately given a new room.  The housekeeping staff took a picture of his rash, but did not indicate insects as a possible reason for his reaction.

Two days after they first appeared and after treatment, the insect bites were still prominent.
After returning home Thursday, Dohm-Sanchez sought medical attention, and was told that the rash was consistent with marks left from insect bites, possibly bedbugs.  The evening manager on duty at the hotel on Thursday did not answer questions about what steps had been taken, but said that there was a protocol in place to call an exterminator and have the room inspected in such circumstances.  He referred questions to the day manager, who did not return a Friday afternoon call for more information.  The Galt House has been the site of at least one other bedbug report in the past five years, according to local station WDRB.

Next year’s dates conflict with Toy Fair; Toy Fair New York will run March 1-4, 2025, while GAMA is scheduled to be held in Louisville again March 3-6 (the Monday – Tuesday dates overlap, see "Toy Fair Not Leaving New York").