Some vendors at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games' Trade Show are threatening legal action to recover part of their booth fees because they say Games' organizers haven't lived up to their contracts.
"We're going to get a lawyer," said Michelle Farmer, a jeweler from Long Island, N.Y., who paid $15,000 for a 10-foot-square booth at the trade show. "Whoever was in charge of this did a horrible job."
"We can't wait to leave Kentucky," said Alessandro Albanese of Turin, Italy, who owns a company that sells high-end riding clothing and paid $45,000 for his booth. "It is nothing like they said it would be."
Albanese, Farmer and several other vendors said they were promised that spectators coming in and out of the Games would pass through the Trade Show, but instead they were routed around it.
After vendors complained early in the Games, some exit traffic was routed through the Trade Show, and that helped, vendors said. Still, the number of people coming through is not as promised, and until vendors complained there were too few tables and too little evening lighting in the area, they said.
Signs for the Trade Show remain inadequate, they said. They also complained that some venues don't allow spectators to leave and re-enter during events so they can get out to shop.
Farmer, Albanese and several other vendors said they met with WEG CEO Jamie Link on Thursday to register complaints and demand partial refunds, which were refused.
"He said, basically, you're out of luck," Farmer said.
Link said booth prices might be higher than what some vendors are used to because this is a 16-day international event. But he said officials have listened to their concerns and made several changes to accommodate them.
"We have done everything we can to help them be successful, but we obviously can't force people to buy their products," Link said. "The vast majority of our vendors are beyond pleased with our event."
Several other Trade Show vendors say business has been quite good.
"We've had good traffic in both of our booths," said Wayne Musick, owner of The Boot Store in Nicholasville, who expects to recover the $75,000 and $60,000 he paid for the booths, plus a good profit. "It has been a great show for us."
The Boot Store's competitive prices and large stock of Western-style boots, hats and clothing have helped his business, especially with international visitors, Musick said. "The Europeans, especially, want Americana," he said.