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I am in Canada this week reporting on the KNOW?SHOW, an action sports trade show at the Vancouver Convention Center.
The bi-annual show had a steady stream of buyers all day Wednesday, the opening day of the show. The ambience was relaxed and inviting. It wasn’t packed, but booths always had a steady stream of buyers and talk was much more business than “bro talk” and hi-fives.
Ben Couves, Nick Brown and Perry Pugh started the Know?Show about five years ago to bring Western Canada’s top retailers together with the top action sports and lifestyle brands. Nick explained that before the Know?Show, there was really only one rep trade show held at hotel rooms that serviced the Western Canadian market.
The show had a closed format, which made it tough for smaller brands to get noticed because if you didn’t know a brand, you probably didn’t check out its hotel room. Plus, the rep show featured a diverse array of brands and goods from hockey sticks and fly fishing rods alongside action sports brands.
Nick, Perry and Ben are all sales reps who work with different action sports and lifestyle brands in Canada. They have all traveled to the states to go to ASR, Agenda, and SIA, and wanted a show that was similar but more rep-friendly just for Canada.
This is their 11th show. It’s mostly a winter show with a mix of snowboard, skate and fashion brands. There are more than 85 exhibitors showing more 300 brands (some distributors have multiple brands in one booth), with 1,000 or more retailers coming over the next three days.
The format of the show is very clean and open. All the booths have hard wall formats.
A few of the bigger brands have custom built booths, but nothing is over the top and all the booths look fairly similar. Nick explained they charge one price for a booth space and only slightly more for a space already with hard walls so all a rep has to do is come in and hang their line.
On page 2: how retailers respond to the show