With retail still reeling from economic blows in the last 18 months -- both fitness and otherwise -- the networking, education and exhibitors at the 2009 Health & Fitness Business Expo could supply an infusion of energy prior to the business season.
Show management won't deny the show is going to be smaller, but key exhibitors will be in attendance, and there seems to be more small companies, including wellness and accessories, ready to take their places on the aisles.
"We are seeing a trend in 10-x-10s and relatively small exhibitors looking to bring in more wellness-based products, accessories, nutritional products, etc.," said Andy Tompkins, Nielsen Business Media group show director, Health & Fitness Business.
Click here to see an updated list of exhibitors as of June 2 for the Aug. 6-7 show. In addition to the likes of BH Fitness, Fitness Master, Lifecore and Vectra, Tompkins said Accell Fitness has since signed on too, and others are ready to ink their deals as the dates get closer.
As we often stress, the show is not just about shuffling from treadmill to home gym to elliptical, but also taking advantage of educational and networking opportunities:
SNEWS Fitness Forum and Luncheon
Continuing its tradition of organizing and presenting retail and industry education, SNEWS® will depart from its traditional panel format to provide a concise presentation the first day of the show with nationally known retail experts.
Combining expertise in sales and operations with in-depth knowledge of merchandising and marketing, Sandy Stein of Stein LLC (www.steinllc.com) and Ron Hornbaker of Retail Minds (www.retailminds.com) will join SNEWS editor in chief Therese Iknoian for a discussion on how fitness retailers can ramp up their strategies for maximum success -- now and later. Stein specializes in retail design, including making the customer comfortable and catering to your customers' demographics.
"We trying to elevate the discussion beyond price," he told SNEWS.
Stein grew up in retail, working behind the counter at his father's store, and later attending design school. He has revamped a number of businesses including Select Comfort, Red Wing Shoes and Auto Fun, as well as Brunswick Billiards.
Hornbaker was one of the executives behind Golf Galaxy, specializing in in-store events, sales training and operations, helping to build the business into a national operation and helping to see it through its acquisition by Dick's. He and the other founding executives left earlier this year to start a retail consulting business. Click here to see an April 15, 2009, story, "RetailMinds rejoins ex-Golf Galaxy team for swing at specialty retail consulting: first love, sports and fitness."
He will address training staff, using events as promotion, and establishing your own store's "points of pride," which is a list of what sets each retailer apart from another.
SNEWS will kick off the noon event with a quick look at fitness retail based on trends shown in the annual SNEWS Retail Survey and other economic reports. Presentation attendees can expect a first-come, first-serve free lunch provided by the Health & Fitness Business Show.
Note: Both Stein and Hornbaker will make themselves available in the SNEWS booth/Community Hub after the luncheon presentation for one-on-one chats with retailers to answer any personal questions. Details to be announced.
Pre-show service project to benefit Boys & Girls Clubs of Denver
A community service project on Aug. 5, the day before the show opens, will bring together retailers, suppliers and others in the area to help make downtown Denver area clubs a more healthy and fit place for the thousands of children who attend them each year. In partnership with SNEWS, the show has organized an afternoon of club cleanup, donations, networking and social opportunities.
Click here to see a May 11, 2009, SNEWS story summarizing the event.
A Boys & Girls Clubs representative told SNEWS this kind of service is "priceless" in operating the clubs. To express your interest in participating, helping to spread the word, donating fitness product or anything else, email email@example.com. SNEWS will gather information and help organize donations or pass on needs and comments to show management as details develop.
And, wait, there's more…
In addition to a pre-show service project and an educational forum the first day, there will be more to keep attendees and exhibitors busy on both days:
>> Joe Marcoux will speak on "The Four Rs of Successful Retail Fitness," pre-show on the second day, Aug. 7, from 8:30 to 10 a.m.
>> The industry party Aug. 6, 6:30-9:30 p.m. will have free food, beer, open bar, pool and bowling. Felt your evening was shorted in past years? The hours for billiards and beverages has been extended through 9:30!
>> Once you tie up business on Aug. 6, head over to the SNEWS booth/Community Hub to check your email and have a beer, courtesy of the show, from 4:30-6 p.m.
In addition, sponsors of the event include BH Fitness, GripPro, Schiek, Spirit, Star Trac and GES.