LOS ANGELES — San Diego has long been known as a haven for the action sports lifestyle, but it's also becoming a business destination — drawing buyers to ASR Trade Expo and Agenda to stock their stores with the latest surf, skate and snowboard apparel.
And organizers are doing their best to market the show to a mainstream audience without sacrificing authenticity.
"We have an opportunity to service the core, but we also have an opportunity now that mainstream retailers are looking at action sports, to service department stores, mass merchandisers and online buyers. The fact that Nordstrom's and Saks and Macy's are sending buyers is an indication," said Andy Tompkins, ASR's new group show director. "The trick is to maintain the culture and individuality while having new retailers utilize it. The general philosophy from a retail point of view is that as lines grow — like Volcom going public this year — there's more and more attention paid to this industry."
The show has grown significantly in its 25-year history — most recently with the addition of a holiday show, held May 31-June 1 in an open-air pavilion at the Newport Dunes Resort in Newport Beach, Calif. With 100 brands and 500 retailers in attendance, the show focused on servicing buyers looking for holiday-specific lines both big and small. Buyers from Pacific Sunwear, Becker Surf Shops, K5, Sun Diego and Jack's Surf Shop, all considered powerhouse chains in Southern California, came and placed orders.
"Initial feedback was very positive," Tompkins said. "It was a focused buying event with orders written quickly to fulfill needs for holiday buying." Tompkins acknowledged that he may need to fine-tune the logistics of the show and adjust the date to accommodate more buyers, but said the holiday show is here to stay.
ASR is also going multimedia. For its summer show, to be held Sept. 8-10 at the San Diego Convention Center, the public will be able to tune in to the first show media-cast, which will enable consumers to see inside ASR and get a glimpse of the latest products and trends via streaming video interviews with designers and podcasts.
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