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State Fair Is A Business Goldmine For Some

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(credit: CBS) Bill Hudson
Bill Hudson has been with WCCO-TV since 1989. The native of Elk Rive...
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FALCON HEIGHTS, Minn. (WCCO) — From the sewing machines on display under the grandstand to the pitchman with his salsa makers, businesses are stocked up and ready to sell.

The Minnesota State Fair, which starts Thursday, is prime grounds for those hoping to connect with customers.

“The fair gives us so much exposure to so many people,” said Diane Simmons. She’s one of the store managers for Creative Sewing Centers. The company has four locations in the Twin Cities and has been counting on the business drummed up at the fair over the past 35 years.

“A lot of people come in here and have no clue that we’re here. It’s very important to business because it plants the seed,” Simmons said.

Long time pitchman Billy Newcomb said without the state fair, it would be tough to make ends meet.

Over the course of the next 12 days, businesses like his will be feast or famine. He’s got a prime spot in the grandstand where he will be selling his salsa maker called the Miracle Kitchen Plus.

Newcomb’s family has been a state fair staple for the past 78 years, pitching everything from Ginsu knives to floor mops.

“It’s not the largest fair in attendance, there’s a couple that have more attendance, but revenue-wise and dollar-wise it’s number one,” said Newcomb.

In just 12 days, the business will sell enough of their kitchen machines to make a third of the company’s yearly revenue.

Up the way on machinery hill, implement dealers couldn’t agree more.

“It generates a considerable amount of leads,” said Allan Abley, who is in tractor sales.

It’s the personal contacts made during the fair that help Abley sell his bright orange Kubota tractors.

“Generating leads, exposing the product brands, everything from lawn mowers to tractors to skid steers, loaders and excavators,” Abley said.

He expects to generate more than 100 good leads that will end up with the sale of anything from a $5,000 lawn tractor to a $75,000 excavator.

For the free spirits, there’s no need to drop money on a midway thrill ride. If you’re in the market, take a ride on a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. Along with racks of clothing inside the display tent are several rows of motorcycles.

Lance Kugler is parts manager at the St. Paul and Wild Prairie Harley-Davidson dealerships.

“They come in and kick some tires, look at the shirts, talk to the staff and see what the sport’s about,” said Kugler.

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