ALBANY — Rob Edwards and the staff at The Home Depot of Albany store had no point of reference when planning for Saturday’s Home Depot of Albany Southwest Georgia Home, Garden, Outdoor Expo at the Albany Civic Center. So they played it conservative.

That turned out to be not so good a plan, Edwards said as he watched a pile of 100 Behr Paint 5-gallon buckets and most of 300 such Home Depot buckets that the name sponsor of the event was giving away disappear in the first hour-plus of the expo. Before the noon bells chimed, Edwards had sent staff back to the store to get more buckets.

Hosted by The Albany Herald and AlbanyHerald.com, the expo — which included 40 local vendors and sponsors — was an immediate hit, drawing hundreds of attendees anxious to see the latest in outdoors and DIY equipment.

“I can’t remember there ever being anything like this in Albany,” resident Jean Phillips said as she looked over a mobile home unit set up in the Civic Center parking lot by Clayton Homes. “This whole idea of having an event like this with all of these vendors is a really good one, and I wanted to be a part of it.”

Mark Jones and his 3-year-old son Braxton checked out a Flint Ag & Turf John Deere lawn tractor on the Civic Center floor, Braxton giving the steering wheel a few turns for good measure.

“We basically came to see what this was all about,” Mark Jones said. “It’s a great day to get out, and this is the first time they had this event. There are a lot of things we wanted to see, plus we wanted to support an event like this in our community.”

Edwards said the expo had exceeded officials with The Home Depot’s expectations before the planned seven-hour event was even two hours old.

“The support has been outstanding,” the home supply store official said. “This has been an excellent partnership in every respect, from working with the staff at The Albany Herald to the folks here at the Civic Center. We want to stay involved in this community because of the strong ties we have in the community.

“We had no clue, frankly, that there would be this kind of response. Our Behr Paint buckets and our brochures were gone in 30 minutes, and we just sent for more of our Home Depot buckets. We didn’t know what to expect, but the people in the region have really responded today. There’s just a tremendous community atmosphere.”

Clayton Homes rep Ronnie Owens said he was pleased with the response to the expo.

“This was a good idea, a good way for people to see the products from a variety of vendors,” Owens said. “We’ve had a lot of people in here to look at this unit. This is just what we were hoping for.”

L.C. Slaughter, who was looking over the Clayton Homes unit with daughter Felicia Slaughter and her 3-year-old son, Landen, said it was his wife, Regina Slaughter, who convinced the family to spend the day at the expo.

“We’re having a great time; I knew we would,” Regina Slaughter said a few moments later as she and L.C. checked out some of the equipment on display.

Janet and Hank Hayes of Albany were looking over the Boaters World boats in the parking lot when Hank, who owns a pool service business, said the couple had an ulterior motive in checking out the expo. While Janet said the couple wanted to “be part of the event,” Hank had an eye on a business matter.

“I wanted to see what they were going to do, and this is just great,” Hank Hayes said. “I wish I’d signed up to be a vendor this year because they don’t have any pool companies here. I plan to be here next year, though.”

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