By  on February 9, 1994

ATLANTA -- It was a flashy sale, but it was also a tough one.

Throughout the Super Show here this past weekend, models did back flips, rollerblade stunts and trampoline tricks -- practically anything to attract attention to the new lines of women's activewear they were wearing.

Buyers swarmed fashion shows, dance routines and celebrity appearances to see what the commotion was all about.

But by the time the four-day show ended Monday, it was clear that although some retailers were enthusiastic about the growing tendency for manufacturers to show activewear specifically made for women, many others were resisting that concept. Some also complained that the new lines lacked innovation.

The show, sponsored by the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association, drew 105,495 attendees -- nearly 10 percent more than last year -- to the sprawling maze of exhibits at the Georgia World Congress Center.

John DeMaria, a buyer for Shenk Bros. Sporting Goods, Lancaster, Pa., with 22 stores in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, said many of the chain's female customers buy men's activewear instead of women's. Women and teenage girls also buy licensed products for the fashion colors, he said.

"For us, women's clothing is very confusing. It's hard to get a grasp on what exactly women are looking for. I think Nike and Reebok are having that same trouble," said DeMaria. "We didn't buy anything at this year's show."

Ned Arnold, a buyer for Duck's Surf & Sport, a 10,000-square-foot store in Gulf Shores, Ala., that carries primarily surf and swimwear, said he didn't plan to spend much money at this Super Show, his first. Accustomed to buying at the Surf Expo trade shows in Florida, Arnold said he wanted to look at the basics -- shorts, T-shirts and leotards -- since his store might start to carry women's activewear.

"We do really well with the spring break crowd, who buy a lot of our bright-colored surf wear. But now we can't afford to be limited to just water sports," he said.

George Franklin, the owner of Duck's Surf & Sport, said he and Arnold had made many new contacts.

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