OUT-OF-TOWN BUYERS KEEP CHILL AWAY AT TRADE SHOWS
NEW YORK — With a battery of trade shows in town this week, buyers and exhibitors frequently appeared to be taking the big blizzard in stride.
Things were difficult for shows located away from midtown, such as the big International Fashion Boutique Show at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. Events taking place in midtown hotels, however, appeared to be benefiting from a captive audience of out-of-town retailers.
“What else am I supposed to do? Stay in my hotel room? Go see a movie that I could go see in San Francisco?” said Donna O’Leary.
O’Leary was shopping the StyleWorks show at the Hotel Inter-Continental here for her San Francisco boutique, Ambiance, and her what-the-heck attitude summed up that of most buyers looking for immediate and summer deliveries Monday morning, despite waist-high snowdrifts and 35-mile-an-hour gusts. There were lines at the show’s registration desk at 10 a.m. Monday, as buyers stomped the snow off boots and picked up show guides.
At West Coast Collective at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel and Hotlines at the Rihga Royal Hotel, buyers were also thinking summer fashions, even though drenched in snow. Vendors said that they were fortunate that most of their-out-of-town buyers flew in on Saturday and that, given that their shows were located midtown, they were accessible by subway. Among the missing, though, were merchants from nearby areas like New Jersey and upper New York State, who couldn’t get into the city. Among local retailers, Barbara Weiser, executive vice president at Charivari, was spotted in a heavy down ski vest, hiking boots and a fake fur hat at the Waldorf.
“I started out Sunday and went to the Boutique show, but I thought I was going to have to stay there at the Javits Center overnight,” said Weiser. “I waited 45 minutes for a cab, but decided to head over to a nearby gas station, where I basically hijacked a cab.”
At the Accessorie Circuit, held at the Plaza Hotel with its sister apparel show, Intermezzo, attendees were milling around the corridors right as the show opened on its scheduled time at 9 a.m. Monday, according to a spokeswoman. The show also drew a fairly good crowd on its first day Sunday, she said. “In all likelihood, our overall attendance will be down, but that’s not a big surprise in a storm of this magnitude,” she said.
At Fashion Accessories Expo, taking place on Piers 90 and 92 and running Sunday through today, the story was different. Sunday was “fairly quiet,’ and as snow accumulated, doors opened Monday at 11 a.m., two hours past scheduled opening, with an early turnout of very few buyers and only about 10 percent of its exhibitors, according to a show official on site.
At the International Fashion Boutique Show at the Javits, a spokesman for the Larkin Group, the show’s producer, said Monday, “There are hardly any buyers here. Most of the vendors are here.”
Larkin executives said they were calling buyers at hotels here to tell them the show was open. Jonathan Larkin, president, said the hotels had also been asked to post signs conveying that message.
Most shows run through today. However, the Intimate Apparel Salon at the Doral Tuscany Hotel and Jewelers Manufacturers Associates show at the Dumont Plaza hotel opened Monday and run through Wednesday. Said Sean Reidy, director of the JMA, which takes place four times a year in Providence, R.I., and once a year in New York, “We do have our Providence show opening on Friday, so hopefully that will make up somewhat for lost traffic here.”
In vendor showrooms, traffic Monday was light and many offices simply closed, some for the whole day, some shutting early. Among buying offices, The Doneger Group was open Monday, with about 25 percent of staff on hand and about 10 percent of scheduled clients keeping appointments. Said Abbey Doneger, president, “I advised our people to leave early…But it was important for us to open today. We have clients in town. We have to respond to them as best we can.”