Two winter regional trade shows in the Southeast will merge next year, signaling that the line between the outdoor and ski markets continues to blur.
The Eastern Outdoor Reps Association and the Southeastern Winter Reps Association announced that they will combine their Southeastern winter shows which, in the past, have taken place just days apart in Greenville, S.C.
The new EORA/SWRA Winter Market show will be held in Greenville's Palmetto Center Feb. 21-24, 2004.
In March, SNEWS reported early signs that a merger might happen. Reps and retailers signaled that there have been real shifts in the Southeastern retail environment. More outdoor stores as well as ski stores have altered their product mix to do year-round business.
"Shops have branched out to cover more than just the outdoor or wintersports market," SWRA Executive Editor Mary Kalis said in a recent interview.
Kalis said that retail buyers wanted to shop both the SWRA and EORA shows, but few had the time or financial resources. "In the South there are a lot of mom-and-pop shops with just one or two people doing the buying. So, they have real time constraints," she said.
The new combined show will include about 350 booths, all housed in one hall.
SNEWS View: We definitely saw this coming. SNEWS suspected that a merger was on the horizon when several ski reps migrated this year, exhibiting at EORA rather than SWRA. The ski reps simply could not afford to miss the potential business from outdoor buyers. Plus, some ski reps said they preferred EORA's four-day format versus SWRA's three days.
We congratulate SWRA and EORA for making a smart move. By combining the shows, the two organizations have taken pressure off of everyone, allowing reps and retailers to save money, time and resources, while providing an overall stronger trade show. We expect that this will strengthen what has become an increasingly important venue. As we have noted before, regional shows are growing more critical in the South as smaller shops avoid national shows to save money.
Leaders for EORA and SWRA are to be commended for listening closely to the needs of their members and acting swiftly to meet them. That's just good business sense.