Industry News 2/16/2007

SSL Recaps Highlights of Winter Sports Market ‘07


SSL Recaps Highlights of Winter Sports Market ‘07

Victor, NY – February 16, 2007 – Sports Specialists Limited (SSL), a leading retailer-owned specialty buying group for the snow sports, action sports, cycling and outdoor industries, reported a successful Winter Sports Market ’07 -- including high retailer turnout, an internationally acclaimed keynote speaker, unsurpassed representation of quality suppliers and product offerings, multiple retailer awards and new retailers joining the SSL family.

Held January 19-21, 2007, in Las Vegas, and preceding the SIA SnowSports Show, the Winter Sports Market (WSM) is an annual private trade show co-organized by SSL and another buying group.  While sharing supplier exhibition space, both buying groups host their retailer meetings and events separately.

ATTENDANCE STRONG

Even though the early dates this year could have reduced attendance, SSL experienced 95% participation from its retailers, on par with last year.  “SSL continues to support the Winter Sports Market as an important pre-SIA event for our retailers and our preferred suppliers,” said Steve Rogers, President and CEO of SSL.  “We saw good representation from almost all of our stores, although some of the East Coast stores brought fewer buyers due to current business conditions.”

POWERFUL KICKOFF

To kick off the show, SSL delivered a powerful and relevant message to its retailers – get to know the youth culture, it’s the future of this business.  “SSL’s goal was to provide our retailers with a stronger awareness of this significant customer base and to help them develop strategies to successfully market to them,” said Rogers.  To emphasize his point, Rogers hired internationally acclaimed youth culture expert Kathleen Gasperini, SVP of International Marketing + Development and a founding partner of Label Networks, who shared her insights on the Dynamics of Global Youth Culture – Influences from Fashion, Technology, Music and Sports. 

“Kathleen really let us know about the market that is out there,” asserted Alan Davis from Princeton Sports (MD).  “I came away with a list of incredible ideas on marketing the store.”  Alan Blume from Vertical Drop Ski & Snowboard (OH) agreed, “Kathleen’s presentation was incredible, a real eye opener.  We were aware of this vital market; however she provided the lens through which we can better understand and connect with them.”  Not only did SSL retailers heed this valuable advice, but the presentation set a positive, forward-thinking and energized tone for the rest of the show. 

SUPERIOR SUPPLIER OFFERINGS

“The overall tone of WSM was upbeat and friendly,” noted Davis.  “When you get with over 70 other shops that you trust, it turns into a fairly functional family.  The highlights of WSM for me were the major presentations on Friday afternoon….spending quality time with K2, Roxy and Nordica was incredible.”

There were over 80 suppliers in attendance.  “We were extremely pleased with our preferred suppliers and the product offerings they brought to our retailers,” declared Rogers.  “Each year surpasses the last in terms of quality and selection.”  SSL also welcomed newcomers Under Armour, Descente and Spyder and saw the return of SmartWool.

“I was impressed with the organization and professionalism with which SSL ran this event,” Blume explained.  “The schedule was intense, but because of the structure and coordination we got quality time with each of the suppliers and everyone seemed to get their questions answered.”

SSL RETAILER AWARDS

During the show SSL retailers were honored with numerous accolades.  SSL is proud to draw attention to two well deserving recipients of the prestigious 2007 SIA SnowSports Retailer of the Year award -- Ski Haus/NOTB (NH) in New England and Porters Sports (CA) in the Pacific.  This year’s well-known Ski Magazine Gold Medal Shop designation was awarded to seven SSL retailers – Ski Haus/NOTB (NH) in New England; Buckman’s Ski Shops (PA), Ski Center (DC), and Princeton Sports (MD) in the East; Pierce Skate & Ski (MN) and Vertical Drop (IL) in the Midwest; and Cole Sport (UT) in the Rockies.

NEW RETAILERS ADDED

After experiencing WSM as special guests -- sitting in on the presentations of the exclusive buying programs, networking with other retailers and principles from top suppliers, and participating in the marketing and merchandising knowledge sharing – three new retailers have chosen to join the SSL family.

SSL is pleased to welcome Sportsman Chalet (Bellingham, WA), Sunny Breeze Boardsports (Portland, ME) and Vertical Drop Ski & Snowboard (Cincinnati, OH) to the SSL family.  This increases SSL’s collective bargaining clout to $255 million dollars, 149 storefronts and 58 unique retailers across North America.

“The highlights of the WSM were the supplier meetings, where company principals explained the entire program and shared the future direction of the company.  Networking opportunities with other well-respected retailers across the country were also very valuable,” stated Alan Blume of Vertical Drop Ski & Snowboard.  “Besides the financial benefits from collective buying, we decided to join SSL because of their sound business practices and the other retailers that are already part of the family.  We’re very excited about the future.”

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ABOUT SPORTS SPECIALISTS LTD. (SSL):
Established in 1971, Sports Specialists Limited (SSL) is a retailer-owned specialty buying group for the snow sports, action sports, cycling and outdoor industries. Utilizing the collective bargaining clout of $255 million, 149 storefronts and 58 unique retailers across North America, SSL provides Dynamic Market Solutions that deliver competitive advantages in buying, merchandising and marketing.  For more information, please visit
www.sportsspecialistsltd.com.

For a full biography of Kathleen Gasperini or more information about Label Networks, visit www.labelnetworks.com.