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Action Sports Industry Finds Solutions, Plans for Future at ASR

January 26, 2009

Action Sports Industry Finds Solutions, Plans for Future at ASR
Tentative optimism turns into pleasant surprise as industry meets to do the business of summer and fall in San Diego

A renewed a sense of optimism prevails on the show floor of ASR, action sports’ leading trade event. ASR ran from January 22nd- 24th in San Diego assisting over 400 brands preview lines and write orders with thousands of buyers. Coming off of tempered holiday sales, buyers arrived in San Diego to stock shelves, while gaining business insight for a better fall.
“In the current retail climate buyers and sellers have an essential need for candid discussions and strengthened business partnerships,” says Andy Tompkins, ASR Group Show Director. “Despite weak consumer spending, leading action sport companies and stores committed to their future and came to ASR to connect and discuss plans for future success.”
Whether finding new, cutting edge brands, working out terms and marketing support with current partners or getting advice from experts in a seminar, ASR offered numerous opportunities for businesses looking forward.
Exhibitors saw quality over sheer quantity in the aisles, and many viewed the show and current economy as an opportunity to increase market share. “We’ve run through a lot of appointments with both men’s and juniors. It’s been better than our expectations,” says Mark Tinkess, Executive VP for Element and Von Zipper. “The retailers who are here are here to do business.”
Beyond previewing lines and writing paper, ASR is a platform for finding solutions and camaraderie. “This is a good opportunity to meet with brands face to face, especially the skate brands that don’t have as many reps that visit us,” explains Forrest Wedmore,. Buyer for Snowboard Connection in Seattle, WA “This time is key to keep up the personal relationships that I feel give you an edge in this business. I think at this show in particular the brands stepped up to offer some conservative pricing options which really helps out us retailers right now.”
The three-day event provides one of the rare opportunities for retailers to work directly with executives and offer feedback to the brands carried in their stores. “Throughout the years the role of a tradeshow has changed its not just about writing orders anymore but it serves as a chance to plan for the future,” adds Martin Ramos, Owner, Kona Skate Park in Jacksonville, Florida. “The ability to participate in product planning and provide manufacturers with input and feedback we have received directly from our customers is key in building our commitment in a brand. At ASR, I can have these key conversations.”
In addition to U.S. buyers, exhibitors remarked on an influx of international buyers from around the world including major Japanese accounts, and orders coming in from Peru, Venezuela, Korea, Mexico and Canada.
Up-and-coming brands find opportunity
Shifts in the industry seem to have opened up new opportunities for up-and-coming brands. Whether in the Goldbox Mission or new entrants to the main aisle, emerging brands felt the love from buyers.
“For a new brand like us to make the main aisle was a great opportunity. This show’s been awesome for us. We didn’t know what to expect, but we decided to embrace it, doubling the size of our booth,” says Dean Quinn, President and Creative Director for O’Quinn. “We feel that this is the best time for a new brand and the retailers confirmed it this week. Retailers we’ve had our eye on embraced us this show including international accounts in Japan, Peru, Canada and Venezuela.”

Down the main aisle from O’Quinn in skate Elwood had a buzz throughout. “We had a good show; we’re a brand with a lot of momentum. One of our pros just got skater of the year, so people are checking out our line. We talked about growing our business with existing accounts and bringing in new stores,” explains Michael Henderson, Elwood, Sales Director. “I’m excited about the times – it is a good opportunity for a brand like Elwood.”
AMBSN, a brand who has come up in ASR’s Goldbox did big business from a small booth, “We saw all the big guys. For all the doom and gloom coming into the show, for us it was great,” says co-owner Dustin Odbert. “People were here to work.”
For moments between line presentations and business discussions, ASR showcased a variety of special events including the first ever ASR On Water Demo Day at the Wave House in Mission Beach and the introduction of the mini MegaRamp to the ASR floor. Both features were designed to help buyers take a quick break and appreciate the lifestyle behind the business. The ASR mini-ramp, runway shows, premieres and parties also played a big role in people’s experience in San Diego.

Surf goes to the water
The day before ASR, 40 surf hard goods and accessory brands took their wares to the waves at the ASR On Water Day presented by Surfing Magazine. Retailers tested out new boards and wetsuits in either the glassy morning sets rolling into Mission Beach or the barreling Wavehouse standup wave.
“The On Water Demo gave my buyers the chance to get out on the ocean and test lines that we don’t currently carry but were interested in learning more about. This ability to test drive it allows us to bring on a new line of boards with confidence,” says Ron Lane, Owner, Fastlane, Mission Beach, CA.

Skaters enjoy a mini Mega, and awards show
For the first time ever, ASR featured a mini MegaRamp. From the 30-foot drop in to the line up of pros and groms tackling it, nothing about the MegaRamp felt mini. Throughout ASR skate legends Bob Burnquiest, Andy MacDonald, Christian Hosoi and Steve Caballero yelled ‘clear’ and sent it over the gap to soar off the quarterpipe.
“The mini MegaRamp is awesome. Bringing more attention to what the skate brands are about. It’s great to see something like this here at ASR,” adds JD Hutchings, General Manager of McGill’s Skateshop, Encinitas, CA from the ramp lounge. “We’re doing a lot of business and mixing in a little pleasure.”
In addition to amazing displays off the Mega, Skate Park of Tampa’s “Damn Am of the Year” was presented by P-Rod to Felipe Gustavo, while Nick Trapasso claimed The Skateboard Mag’s Year’s Best Am title.
“As a longtime skateboarder and skateshop manager, I met some of my childhood heroes and ran into tons of friends old and new. But as newly minted business co-owner as of January 2009, who is carefully yet solidly charging into the retail world of the future, ASR was a priceless chance to connect with the truly inspiring people and products that have formed the backbone of everything I do,” says Paul Fujita, Co-owner, Cal Skate Skateboards in Portland, OR.
Fashion finds an edge on the ASR Runway
The ASR runway lit up with edgy fall fashions twice during the show. Bright reds and blues were offset by greys and blacks in a noticeable shift to grunge from spring’s 80s vibe.
“This is our first time at ASR. We’re getting to know the brands, getting an idea of styles and what brands, colors and textiles will be big for fall,” explains Javier Diaz, Owner of One Way Boardshop in Mazatlan, Mexico from the end of the runway.
DJ Albert Rosario from LRG rocked the runway as models including America’s Next Top Model, Saleisha Stowers, carried fall styles with class.
Karen Jensen, Owner of Palapa Lounge Beachwear in Los Gatos, CA agrees with Javier as her team of buyers left the show, “As far as things to utilize in stocking the store, we use the runway show as a tool for finding new ideas. There were some great lines.”
Looking ahead
When ASR returns to San Diego, September 10th-12th, there will be a new show floor to look forward to. ASR announced last week a remodel of the event centered around category neighborhoods and turnkey booth options. Also in September, CLASS@ASR will debut with a mix of higher end, fashion driven boutique brands in a convenient location adjacent to ASR.