Have you decided which trade shows you are going to attend in January 2002? Winter Market? SIA? Both? Neither? Where is the core retail contingent going? That appears to be the million-dollar question. Unfortunately, the answer probably won't be clear until each show opens.
Manufacturers and retailers alike have contacted SNEWS® for our unbiased and honest look at what we have found to be the market's decision. Bottom line is, even we don't really know, but we decided to do a bit more heavy digging to unearth information you might find useful as you go about making your own decisions:
- Dueling Exhibitor Lists -- Both SIA and Outdoor Retailer have been busy promoting their exhibitor lists, but SIA appears to be doing the better job of updating. As of Sept. 23, Outdoor Retailer's exhibitor list, which states at the top "Here are some of the companies committed to showcasing …," named companies that told SNEWS® they were definitely not attending and didn't know why their names were still on the list. Outdoor Retailer has told SNEWS® that lists will be updated this week with new exhibitors being added and those who have told OR they are not coming being removed.
- Winter Show or Winter Faux? -- Will the real winter show please stand up? By all appearances, if you really want a winter show full of winter products this year, and you only want to go to one show, you will want to go to SIA. A detailed comparison of published exhibitor lists reveals that a majority of the companies who produce snowshoes, winter apparel or have even a slight winter orientation are either exhibiting only at SIA or are exhibiting at both OR and SIA. The core Nordic contingent of Karhu, Rossignol, Fischer, Alpina, Exel/Garmont, K2, and Atomic are exhibiting only at SIA this year. Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2002 is beginning to look very much like Outdoor Retailer Summer Market -- without the boats.
- Booth Size Speaks -- Exhibitor lists tell only half the story. An exhibitor list merely provides the information that a company is attending. It says nothing about booth size, intentions, or product mix. If it is important for you to know who among your key accounts will be presenting what at which show, pick up the phone now and call them. Peter Metcalf of Black Diamond tells SNEWS® that they will have only a very small booth at Outdoor Retailer this year with no reps, no workbooks, no price lists, no catalogs and staffed by a few mid-level managers. Their real presentation will be at SIA this year. "January 4 is a very bad time for many dealers to be out of their stores and we did not want to put any pressure on our retailers to come to a show during the height of their selling season," says Metcalf. "We are exhibiting at OR only as a show of support for them." Cascade Designs is giving up their booth space at Outdoor Retailer and consolidating into the MSR space (their new company acquisition) for this show. They are not exhibiting at SIA. David Lampert of SWIX told us the company will not be exhibiting any hard goods at Outdoor Retailer and is still considering the worth of presenting winter soft goods. "We are listening to our retailers right now to tell us if they need to see us at OR this year. A number of our major accounts have already told us they are not going to OR, so we'll have to see. We will be exhibiting our full line at SIA of course."
- OR Expectations -- What can you expect at OR? A lot of banner waving and pointing to retailer attendance figures which, traditionally, are very strong. Dieter Tremp of Outdoor Retailer states that it has more than 3,000 retailers who have pre-registered to attend. "As always we are spending most of our efforts on buyer registration and promoting the show to buyers. I am not all too concerned yet about the outdoor market attendance," says Dieter Tremp of Outdoor Retailer. No word on how many retailers will be California-based, but there is little doubt that for this show, one can expect a large percentage of retailers to be first-timers representing surf and active sport shops from Southern California that normally don't attend. That will mean nothing to hard goods companies, but could provide a boost in new account business for accessory companies -- if those companies are interested. Expect this show to be more of a social event for many, including manufacturers.
- SIA Expectations -- Expect SIA to work hard to pump up the volume and attempt to inject energy into a show that, frankly, has appeared slightly anemic in recent years. If SIA expects to woo manufacturers back again in 2003, it must first convince them that retailers will flock to SIA either in lieu of or in addition to Outdoor Retailer Winter Market. SIA's David Ingemie says that the volume will be way up this year. "We are in a whole new building and are showing a 20-percent increase in space sales, says President David Ingemie. "There will be more restaurants, a huge opening night party, and other events. The fashion shows we were known for are coming back because this is the first time products will be unveiled to this market. We are providing more retailer work areas out in the floor, two Cyber Cafes, not just one. There will be many other benefits too. For example, anyone with an SIA badge will be able to go to Red Rocks at no charge. We are making a grant to BLM to be able to do that."
- Then There's the Regional Shows -- There is no doubt in our mind, or the minds of the many retailers and manufacturers we have spoken and emailed with, that regional shows will have far greater importance this year. And that importance will reach beyond this year.
- 2003 and Beyond -- What about 2003, when the two shows are only days apart? Ahhhh…we'll get back to you on that one.