SGMA's Spring Market gone, morphs into team and licensing show: Fitness still vital on group's agenda

Six months after the bally-hoed launch of the first post-Super Show event, SGMA has realized its first Spring Market wasn't what it coulda/shoulda been, and it has announced a partnership that will transform the second Spring Market into a show focusing exclusively on team sports and licensing.
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Six months after the bally-hoed launch of the first post-Super Show event, SGMA has realized its first Spring Market wasn't what it coulda/shoulda been, and it has announced a partnership that will transform the second Spring Market into a show focusing exclusively on team sports and licensing.

"It didn't meet our expectations," Tom Cove, SGMA president/CEO, told SNEWS® of the show in June in Las Vegas. "We knew we had to do better. We had to be more focused and deliver on our promises."

With that, the association of sporting goods manufacturers (www.sgma.com) announced Dec. 4 it would partner with DMG World Media to produce a two-pronged event, still in early June in Las Vegas at the Sands Expo: the SGMA Team Sports Show and the SGMA Sports Licensing Show.

DMG, which owns and operates the largest gift shows in the country as well as the huge Surf Expo and an array of other trade shows and consumer fairs (www.dmgworldmedia.com), will manage sales, marketing and operations, while SGMA will produce the educational program and endorse the event. The Team Sports Show (http://teamsportsshow.com) will focus on team sports apparel, footwear, equipment and accessories -- not running or other related training programs -- and the Sports Licensing Show (http://thesportslicensingshow.com) will be about professional and collegiate sports-licensed products. Together, they should include about 700 booths, June 9-11, 2008. The 2007 Spring Market by SNEWS® count had about 300 booths.

In its last years, The Super Show had become a team and licensed show more than anything else. Despite a year of touting the first Spring Market in June 2007 as one for "sporting goods and fitness," it predominately became a team buying show with a dash of running and other performance areas as well as some collectables and a smattering of fitness.

"We found this show and this show's timing wasn't what the fitness industry was looking for," Cove said. "We'll be honest and say, given other shows available and other opportunities available, it doesn't appear this industry wants this show."

Fitness exhibitors at the event included Horizon, Lamar, Stamina, Everlast, Sportline, Spri, Ball Dynamics, debuting company Natural Fitness and a few other miscellaneous accessory companies. Some manufacturer representatives walked the show in a wait-and-see mode. Some felt the timing was poor. Some weren't ready to jump ship from either the retail-centric Health & Fitness Business show seven weeks later or double up with the IHRSA club show three months earlier.

Said Cove, "We're not going to try to divide people"

But he also told SNEWS® this doesn't mean the organization is pulling back on its involvement in the fitness arena or curtailing its activities and programs there. In fact, this means it will be able to focus on its strengths and other areas not offered by others, including its strong public policy and advocacy events and campaigning on Capitol Hill (for example, its "Health-through-Fitness Day," in 2008 set for March 12), its "Satellite Media Tours" (with a first one in January focusing on fitness equipment and gear), inclusion in its Sports+Technology Convergence, and a growing "Fitness Committee" of industry leaders (click here to see an April 24, 2006, SNEWS® story, "SGMA launches Fitness Committee for industry-specific focus.")

"We are more committed than ever to serving the fitness industry," Cove said. "Are we abandoning the fitness industry? No."

He added, "The long-term vision is, we'll build our relationships with our core segments, and fitness is one of them."

The organization has been undergoing changes and trying to find its path and settle on appropriate events in the last three years since Cove took over and in the last two years since The Super Show was cancelled. A Fall Market announced in early 2006 was quickly and quietly taken off the agenda. After the Spring Market in June 2007 was not well-attended, SGMA announced it was again taking over the operation of the show, giving the impression the management company hired had perhaps been partly responsible for the less-than-stellar show. Unfortunately, the association's second-annual and successful Sports+Technology Convergence in October was forced to cancel the day before it opened due to the wind-whipped conflagrations in Southern California. But these steps and events have perhaps allowed the SGMA to better hone its direction.

"We want to be clear, realistic and deliver on every promise," Cove said. "It's not going to happen overnight, and we're committed to the longer evolution."

SNEWS® View: With DMG's experience and its emphasis on building attendee relationships and enticing buyers to come to a show, this could be what the team and licensed segments need from SGMA. And we believe this is indeed what fitness needs -- NOT another show but an association that will work for the industry's benefit in public policy, communications and advocacy arenas that are much lacking in the industry. We in fact think that the SGMA could step forward to do more in that area for fitness, becoming an association that speaks for and represents retail fitness companies in a way none does. Of course, this leaves SGMA ready and in the wings too; if a current show were to falter, it will be ready and able to jump in to fill a gap. The industry should not give up on the SGMA, nor should it ignore its efforts, especially those on Capitol Hill. We would like the fitness industry to indeed take them more seriously, look beyond its own nose, and start to take part in the broader public message and broader campaigning that is only good for the industry as a whole and therefore everybody's business as a part.

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