By  on February 25, 2010

At least one segment of the market is benefiting from the recession — the off-price sector.

“When things are good, we’re good, and when things are bad, we’re better,” said David Lapidus, senior vice president of the show Off-Price Specialist. “With this economy, our show is thriving. Retailers have found we have desirable inventory and very desirable prices.” And since the show has longevity — it has been going for 15 years — merchants know the merchandise they purchase at Off-Price will be delivered.

Steven Riback, president of SR Shirts & Stuff in Montville, N.J., said his company has been exhibiting at Off-Price since its inception. He said business at the last two shows has been good and sales at the just-completed edition “exceeded what we had hoped for.” Retailers responded to nylon fishing shirts, Western-inspired plaid shirts, twill cargo shorts and short-sleeve plaid woven shirts for men as well as colorful Ping golf shirts for women.

John Javidzad of Puzzles Enterprises Inc. of Los Angeles has been in business for 22 years and offers closeouts for men, women and children. At Off-Price, he said his booth attracted “a lot of new customers” because of the economy. “We were very happy with the traffic,” said Javidzad.

He said most retailers were looking for women’s tops and dresses, shorts, skinny jeans and printed T-shirts. Basics for layering were also strong. In men’s, top performers included printed T-shirts, cargo, bermuda or plaid shorts and polos. In boys, printed Ts and lightweight zip hoodies were popular, while in girls, tunics and capris to wear with leggings attracted attention.

“For us, the show was very successful,” said Glen Gammons, corporate merchandise liquidation director for J.C. Penney. “There’s been a lot of talk about the lack of goods in the off-price market, and we found a new shoe vendor, a new kids’ vendor, a new men’s vendor and a new women’s vendor. We were looking for spring and summer, and all of our buying needs were satisfied. We found a lot of tops and bottoms at great values.”

For the first time, the show also featured a factor, Crestmark Bank, that was working with the off-price vendor community to provide credit. “We came here to attempt to raise our profile,” said Robert Harbers, first vice president. “We’re a bank but we’re well capitalized and we made more loans last year than the year before.”

Overall, Off-Price showcased 490 vendors and Lapidus said buyer traffic increased 18 percent. He also revealed that in August, the show will relocate upstairs in the Sands Convention Center to the space formerly occupied by Project. The location will “allow for growth, comfort and ease of buying and will facilitate vendors doing business,” he said.

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