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SIA got off to a busy start Thursday, and the strong snow season currently underway made for a convention center filled with upbeat retailers and manufacturers.
Attendees seemed to have adjusted to the show’s new home in Denver, and I did not hear the same wistful comments about wishing the show was still in Vegas that I heard so much last year.
I saw West Coast retailers in attendance, including Ron Abdel from Jack’s in Huntington Beach, Josh Hansen from Hansen’s in Encinitas, Duke Edukas from Surfside Sports in Costa Mesa and John Chapman of Porters in Lake Tahoe.
Several brands also told me their Canadian reps were booked solid with appointments.
Smith Optics President Ned Post said Thursday was the busiest first day he’s ever seen in the 17 years he’s been coming to the show.
Smith doubled its booth space this year because of its booming helmet business. Both booths were jammed every time I walked by Thursday.
“There’s a great vibe,” Ned said. “It’s been a terrific year, which makes for very positive attitudes.”
David Currier, Smith’s General Manager of the International Division who also oversees sales in the middle region of the U.S., said his reps are book solid into Saturday afternoon with some appointments spilling into Sunday.
He also said it seems that more retailers are sticking around this year for the demo days.
A year ago without the attendance of many key West Coast retailers, attending SIA was not a priority for Quiksilver EVP Tom Holbrook, he said.
But this year, more came, so Tom made the trip. He said the energy on the floor Thursday reminded him of the early days of SIA.
“I honestly think (SIA) has done a really good job," he said.
Our photos from the floor on Day 1 are in our slideshow at the top of this story.