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Chicago Ripe for Trade Show Wars

Two events targeting the beauty industry set up shop in the city just weeks apart.

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Special Issue
WWDStyle issue 03/11/2011

Two trade shows, one with an 86-year history, the other with a successful track record, are out to target the professional beauty industry this month, just weeks apart from one another.

As America’s Beauty Show readies to kick off this weekend in Chicago, the country’s leading hair show that has serviced the Midwest for more than eight decades, it now will meet with some competition. ISSE, a trade show brand operated by the Professional Beauty Association, is launching International Salon & Spa Expo Midwest, from March 26 to 28 at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Ill. and targets the same exhibitors and attendee base as ABS. PBA, the largest association for the professional beauty industry, also puts out the well-attended ISSE Show in Long Beach, Calif., which attracted 42,000 attendees and 400 exhibitors last year. Officials at PBA said it chose to offer a similar show in Chicago to ABS as a result of meeting the industry’s needs.

“Costs of McCormick Place where ABS is now have become too high for exhibitors and attendees alike,” said PBA spokesman Brad Masterson. McCormick is located in the heart of Chicago’s downtown, which comes with downtown hotel and restaurant prices. PBA also argues that they don’t have to pay a management company to run the show, like ABS does, therefore being able to “put more money back into the beauty industry for education, government affairs and networking.”

ISSE Midwest, Masterson added, is expecting 250 exhibitors and 20,000 attendees at its debut show. Exhibitors include Rusk, Conair, OPI, CND, Joico, Zotos, Beauty Systems Group, Keratin Complex Smoothing Therapy and Columbia Cosmetics.

ABS admits to having had a drop in attendance in 2008 and 2009 as a result of the recession, but expects 58,000 attendees and 380 exhibitors at this weekend’s show. Vi Nelson for ABS pointed out that ABS can count the three largest professional firms as part of its exhibitor list: L’Oréal Professional, TIGI and John Paul Mitchell Systems, something ISSE Midwest cannot. She added that the downtown location for the show remains because “that’s where they [attendees] want it. Year after year we do polls and this is where they want the show to be.” As for financials, Nelson said: “We are happy to put our numbers against theirs in terms of what we put toward the industry.”

To help drive attendance, each show is planning special events and guest speakers. ABS, which runs March 12 to 14, will be premiering “Vidal Sassoon: The Movie” and hosting Vidal Sassoon and Bumble and bumble founder and the movie’s producer, Michael Gordon. The show will also hold the Behind the Chair’s Stylist Choice Awards.

ISSE Midwest will have financial wizard Suze Orman deliver the keynote address and offer education sessions.

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