Industry News 9/11/2007

Largest ASR in Years Equals Big Business and Creative Events

Largest ASR in Years Equals Big Business and Creative Events
Completely packed show floor and increase in buyers highlight business during 3-day event

When Action Sports Retailer Expo, ASR, opened on Friday, September 7th, show organizers were forced to turn away companies looking for a place in the action. There was simply no floor space left at the event. ASR held in San Diego from September 7-9th, showcased trend setting, 2008 spring styles and cutting edge gear from over 750 Surf, Skate, Swim, Snow, Moto, Wake, Lifestyle and Streetwear brands. With about 7,000 retail buyers and over 20,000 attendees the show was the largest ASR in over 5 years.

“We’re proud to provide a vibrant platform for brands from across the youth culture spectrum to showcase their products and image” says Andy Tompkins, ASR Show Director. “The large increase in buyers, brands and events for this show proves that ASR is an increasingly relevant part of the industry’s business schedule.”

The ASR show floor facilitated a great deal of order writing over the three day event. Interest in action sports lifestyle lines continues to blossom, expanding the variety and size of retailer shopping at ASR. A diverse mix of buyers ranged from the world’s largest department stores, the trendiest boutiques and specialty retailers from over 40 countries.

“The booth was really, really busy with a broad buyer mix of core specialty, boutique, chains, department stores and lots of strong accounts from Hawai’i,” says Tandi South, National Sales Manager for Reef girls.

Swim continues to flourish with over 160 lines on the floor. “We got the business we’ve been waiting for at this show – some of the big surf chains like Active came to see the line for the first time and picked it up,” says Eden Struss, Marketing Director for B. Swim. L*Space has shown at ASR twice a year for almost a decade, still Owner Monica Wise says, “The traffic was non-stop – I’ve never seen the show this busy. We opened up 20 new doors!”

The ASR/SIMA Board Builders Pavilion continued to provide a platform for surfboards to shine and board builders to exchange ideas. “The Board Builders Pavilion was fantastic, the traffic and number of people talking about boards and technology made for a very productive weekend,” says Sean Smith, SIMA Executive Director.

Just beyond the Pavilion, Firewire Surfboards noticed buyers coming in especially to see hardgoods. “We were booked solid, it was great to see retailers making the commute from LA – they’re taking this show seriously,” says Rod Tomlinson, West Coast Sales Manager for Firewire. “To have a huge buyer like Val Surf coming into see surfboards at 10AM on Friday is huge.”

Skateboarding had a large presence at ASR with over 200 brands, an expanded mini-ramp, and almost a dozen skateboard focused events, including numerous IASC functions, CreateAskate, the SkateDesigns vintage skate auction, and a special section of the ASR floor dedicated to skate hardgoods. “ASR does a phenomenal job with the skate market, skate’s presence at ASR is unmatched anywhere else,” says Deepak Nacknani of Coastal Edge in Virginia Beach.

New Brands, Buyers and Goldbox Mission
A priority for many buyers at ASR is not only to pinpoint the latest trends, but also scope out the next big labels. ASR’s Goldbox Mission presented by Boost Mobile, a section of new, up-and-coming brands, made that task possible even in a packed schedule. Over 30 art driven, lifestyle brands exhibited in Goldbox Mission for the first time, and added to the over 150 new brands on the show floor.

While some retailers use ASR as a place to spot trends, build relationships and glean knowledge from seminars, many do big business on the floor. “I come from the east coast to look for brands and styles that are fresh to the industry, like west coast brand Mada,” continues Nackani.

Boutique and higher fashion buyers are coming to ASR to find new brands for their shelves. Some of the stores returning to ASR include Fred Segal, Villains and more.

While boutique buyers are shopping ASR for something new, established, boutique brands are looking to get a foot in the door of core specialty retailers at the event. “We came to this show to test out this market – we’re a fashion, eco-line first,” says Corey Stecker, Marketing Director for Terra Plana. “ASR was a start to expand into the core surf and active markets.” Also testing the ASR market was Tom Shoe’s a year old brand that gives a free pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair sold. “ASR’s audience gives us a new footing in the surf world. We added several new doors over the weekend,” says Blake Mycoskie, Owner of Tom’s Shoes.

Macbeth Footwear made its first ASR appearance in the Goldbox, “There was a lot of energy both from new accounts and current ones who were excited about the line,” says Alex Almeida, GM of Macbeth. “The location and simplicity made it very easy to set up and do business.”

Green Steps
The combination of sustainable product lines and related events gave ASR September a lower impact, ‘green’ glow. Green Steps environmental initiatives at ASR included a fully wind powered event, and expanded recycling efforts sponsored by Volcom.  In addition, the ASR Line Up, show badges, bags, along with concession ware were all produced on recycled paper.

However, the incredible story was the momentum of the industry toward a greener future.  Within the aisles of ASR, over 100 established and emerging surf, skate, snow, swim, lifestyle and youth culture brands launched expanded lines of sustainable and organic product for spring 2007.

SIMA’s Humanitarian Fund benefited from the Reef Board Build-Off, a silent surf board auction, and most of all the Liquid Nation Ball 4, which collectively raised $250,000 for important global causes selected by SIMA.  To educate and explore the topic of the environment, on the show floor of ASR The Glue Network created and auctioned off a thirty foot, three sided mural dedicated to the current and potential future state of the environment.  In addition, celebrity athletes and industry personalities participated in a poker tournament that benefited the Action Sports Environmental Coalition, ASEC. ASEC also pulled together the cumulative energy and environmental goodwill of the industry into the Green Room that showcased natural and recycled products from the industry. “The Green Room was a catalyzing moment for our industry. It brought brands, business solutions and natural products together to show dealers the opportunities available in starting a natural product section in their stores,” says Frank Scura, President of the Action Sports Environmental Coalition. “Brands were feeding off each other’s energy and commitment building on the growing movement together.”

Events
Between all of the action at ASR, there was little time or reason for the 20,000 attendees to rest at the largest ASR show in years.

The ASR Runway Show presented by Foam Magazine highlighted swim, juniors and young contemporary styles found throughout ASR. The trends were organized by the decade that inspired the various trends in design giving buyers a very complete picture of what will be hot next season. Alpinestars juniors line debuted at the end of the show. “The runway allows us to see all of the trends, how styles fit and what’s happening in design at once,” says Debbie Edwards, Buyer for Good Vibrations in Sydney, Australia.

Adding excitement on the floor, the public was invited to join ASR attendees for the eS Game of SKATE, a performance by Juliette Lewis and the Licks on the Vestal Stage, and mini-ramp demos throughout the show. With the largest prize purse ever at the Game of SKATE, some of the biggest names in skateboarding flocked to ASR. Chris Cole took home the pro contest prize and serious bragging rights.

Within the Board Builders pavilion, the Reef Board Build-Off drew thousands of show attendees to the Board Builders Pavilion to bid on unique, collector boards built specifically to be auctioned off for charity. All together the silent auction together with the Reef Board Build-Off raised over $24,000 for the SIMA Environmental and Humanitarian Fund, with Jed Noll’s board going for the high bid of $5,800 to Billabong President, Paul Naude.

For all the action you couldn’t catch, check out the ASR MediaCast at asrbiz.com or actionarchives.com through out the week and this fall. ASR returns to San Diego, January 24-26, 2008 with a new Thursday-Saturday format. More details to come.