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I caught up with Andy Tompkins, VP of Nielsen Sports Group, to get his assessment of the recent show. I also asked him about attracting more of the skate community to ASR in the future, and he offered some intriguing answers.
Between the two show floors ASR and CLASS@ASR combined welcomed approximately 18,000 total attendees (a certain portion of attendees visited both floors).
Well, if we're comparing to September 2008 attendance was down overall, but I don't think it's a very fair metric right now and certainly not indicative of the story the industry told last week at ASR. Not much of this world is the same as last September - just think what has happened to the Dow, global investments, and the psychology of the average consumer. We are literally living in a brave new world.
The reality is over the last 12 months the industry has radically cut support staff, and certain businesses are no longer with us. So this has vastly reduced the overall number of professionals operating in the action sports marketplace - and to maximize dollars most businesses only sent key personnel to ASR and this created a smaller overall attendance base.
(Right: Element's Ryan Kingman and ASEC's Frank Scura.)
But in my opinion, the critical factor was the optimistic sentiments on the show floor - what you saw at ASR last week were the strongest brands and retailers coming together to collectively move forward in the new economic reality. The show was so positive because the industry feels retail sales have seen the bottom and are now starting to climb back up. No doubt, it is very different in scope compared to last year but opportunities are starting to emerge once again and to me that was the truly exciting aspect of the ASR show last week.
Kim Ball from Hi Tech on Maui summed up the overall feeling of ASR Marketplace 2009 in the following statement -
"It was great to see the smaller lines, and to rub shoulders with our bigger vendors. I was also able to talk about future promotions with those same companies.
"Business is still a challenge, but I feel good about the state of our industry after attending ASR."
From the SIMA press conference of business leaders to meetings on the floor, the industry seems set on discussing future business opportunities and concentrating on the positive aspects of the market, versus what isn't happening right now compared to years past.
Yes, the collective efforts of ASR and SIMA helped contribute to an incredibly strong mix of retailers across surf, skate, swim, moto, street and fashion from specialty, department store, boutique, sporting goods, chain and mass. Buyers attended from literally all over the world and they were serious about working and selecting product for spring / summer 2010.
Overall the show was pretty smooth from a management standpoint, the CLASS@ASR portion (pictured at right) was very well received. In addition, the SIMA Foundation Lounge was a well used area of the show floor and provided a resource for all attendees to network, share ideas and relax. In addition, exhibitors noted move-in was simpler than years past.
We would like to create even more community areas for guests to take advantage of, further increase our retail services and continue to provide more value to ASR exhibitors.
Yes, retailers were very impressed by the brand mix and overall floor environment of CLASS@ASR and were excited with the new addition to ASR. We look forward to continuing to provide the industry with this new business resource.
(Right: Reef Co-Founder Fernando Aguerre utilizing the new lounge area at ASR.)
Most of our long term efforts focus on keeping the distinct segments of action sports together in the same building. By creating unique environments that celebrate each category of action sports, much like we did with fashion at CLASS@ASR, we feel we can offer a show platform that has unique features dedicated to surf, skate, street and fashion, while still allowing retailers to shop multiple categories within the same show.
We are trying to devise low cost solutions for skate brands to exhibit at ASR and strengthen partnerships that will allow us to serve the skate market in a more dynamic fashion.
(Right: Jeff Kendall, vice president of NHS Inc., one of the few skate companies at ASR.)
Hope springs eternal and if you are in the show business this is always true. Since ASR draws a significant buying base of retailers looking for skate product I feel we still have a great deal to offer the skate market and yes, I am hopeful that the number of skate brands at ASR will increase in the future.
I've alluded to a few in my previous answers, but we are moving the show to February 3rd and 4th to service the fall apparel sales period. And the floor with have a few new twists as well. More details to come soon!