It's the time of year when thoughts naturally turn to homes and gardens, according to Carson City Chamber of Commerce Director Ronni Hannaman, and merchants participating in the chamber's first home and garden show Saturday were hoping the green of spring will convert to green in the cash register.
"Everyone here is just hoping something is going to give soon," said Kim Baker, a Charter representative who was manning a booth at the show.
"It's just tough these days. The Olive Garden came and a few other businesses, but so many have left. People are just ordering less right now," she said.
"Some people are working, but their benefits are gone, the price of gas is bad and you can't go anywhere without seeing people begging," she said.
"I just got back from Seattle, and you wouldn't know there was a problem (with the economy) because there are jobs everywhere with Boeing, Apple and Starbucks," Baker said.
Saturday's event, the first of its kind for the chamber, drew 30 vendors - eager to give hints on how to save on insurance costs, redecorate a home, clean up gardens or haul away junk - and hundreds of shoppers eager to see what's available to buy locally.
National companies with local storefronts such as Costco and Home Depot set up lavish displays in the Carson Mall, along with local businesses such as Carson Masonry & Steel Supply and Greenhouse Garden Center.
In addition, many merchants offered free workshops throughout the day, which were well-attended, and several outdoor displays kept shoppers busy.
"It has been steady since 9 o'clock," Hannaman said. "Lots of people have been coming through, and the turnout has been much better than we anticipated. I think everyone has a pent-up feeling of wanting to get going."
For Debra Deselms of Four D Enterprises, which offers services such as snow removal and defensible space work, Carson City's economic picture looks hopeful.
"I think we're coming out of it a little bit, but we only plowed twice this year - it was the worst in 125 years. We invested in snow removal equipment but will turn it over for some defensible space, hauling and yard cleanup work," Deselms said.
"We're very hopeful, or we wouldn't have invested all this money three years ago," she said. "My husband manages an auto repair shop and they're busier than ever, so it seems the economy is bouncing back."
She agreed that participating in the home and garden show gives her a chance to showcase their services.
Charlotte Testorff of Carson Masonry said they were at the show to let residents know that they've made changes from just rocks and masonry to adding fountains, bird baths, benches, lanterns and other backyard decor.
"A lot of people don't know we're a backyard destination now, and this show really helps us," she said.
Carson Masonry, which has been in business since 1961, has been owned by Chris Wendell for the past 22 years.
"The last four years have been tough because construction is off," he said, "but I think things have turned around slowly. We're quoting a lot more projects this year."
Simone Bartell is hoping for the best after opening her shop, Touched by Angels, Jan. 15 in the Carson Mall.
"Yeah, I'm nervous, but this has been a dream for me, and I think things are picking up. The economy is starting to come around and we're holding our own," she said.