Notes From the SIA Show in Vegas, Uh, I Mean Denver

The beer is a lot cheaper in Denver, assuming you don’t actually consider the beers they handed you at the gambling tables in Vegas to be free. The hotels are more expensive and getting to said hotels from the airport takes longer.   Most of the people I talked with (by no means a scientific sample) would have preferred the show was still in Vegas but I’m sure we’ll all adjust. I have never had so many friendly people ask me if I needed help finding anything and tell me they hoped I had a nice day. If that happened in Vegas I’d probably think I’d done something wrong. They were certainly glad to see us in Denver.

But was it a “good” show? You know, I have certainly gotten old enough, and maybe wise enough to know that you can’t judge a show just by walking around it, though we are all guilty of that to some extent. It was a good show for me, and snowboard industry booths seemed busy enough. I have to confess I didn’t spend much time in the ski part.
So I’ll leave the show analysis to others who have more and better data than I have. At the end of the day, the question is was it a good show for your company? But I do have a few observations we might have some fun with.
Happiest Company
Had to be Never Summer. Not only is their factory in Denver (they were offering tours) but economic conditions have suddenly made their long term business model of high quality, good margins, and limited distribution that leads to strong sell through something that absolutely everybody understands. They swear they won’t screw it up and I believe them.
Best Show Favor
Betty Rides party panties. Owner Janet Freeman gave me a couple of pair, but they were a little snug so I had to give them away.
Interesting Business Model
I ran into Cec Annett, formerly with Adidas, who’s now the CEO of The Clymb (www.theclymb.com).   It’s a membership site where they sell, for only a couple of days for each item, quality overstocks of product at big discounts from industry brands. There’s no charge to be a member, but an existing member has to recommend you. The brand doesn’t have to worry about the product showing up on Ebay, and the presentation is very professional- the brand image is supported. The financial model is also intriguing. Cec, please remember this nice plug when you’re rich and famous and, in the meantime, can you get me signed up as a member?
Small Booths
A number of major brands had much smaller booths than last year and I say good for them. A trade show booth should be exactly the size you need to do whatever business you do and not influenced by the size of your competitor’s booth. I guarantee that if you have a product that sells well at retail with good margins your customer will buy it even if you don’t have a two story booth the size of a house with a helicopter on top (who besides me remembers that?)
Large Booth
Burton and its associated brands took up around 10% of the total floor space in the snowboard area. The Burton brand by itself had the largest footprint of any company there. Things must be going really well at Burton for them to have paid SIA’s standard rate of $11 per square foot for premium members for all that space.
Guy with the Best New Job
It has to be Ryan Hollis who, after 12 years with Quiksilver, is now the General Manager of Mervin Manufacturing. Guess this means Mike Olson can give up doing the accounting.