LABELS LEAD OFF-PRICE SHOW
Byline: Kristin Young
LAS VEGAS — Rhinestone baby T-shirts, denim and big-name brands drove business at the Off-Price Specialist Show, which held its 20th edition at the Stardust Resort & Casino here Feb. 10-14.
“It was really packed,” noted Julio Valencia, owner of Eagle Liquidators, a jobber that sells overruns of Wet Seal and Contempo Casual merchandise.
Buyers from Wal-Mart, Kmart, Ross, TJX’s Marshalls and TJ Maxx divisions and some 6,000 other retailers braved the rain-soaked tents to write some $450 million in orders, according to show producers.
The international presence was strong too, thanks in part to a U.S. Department of Commerce initiative, which brought in 18 retailers from the former Soviet Union.
Many exhibitors noted that teens drove the trends.
“It has got to be screaming a label,” said Stacey Kasin, sales manager at R. Siskin, a liquidator selling Guess, Calvin Klein, DKNY and others. “Otherwise it doesn’t mean anything. All the kids are doing the buying. Kids have all the power.”
But caution among buyers, brought on by economic jitters, loomed heavily in the air. Many noted that, in years past, they would have ordered an item in dozens of colors. Now, they are picking the best of the best.
Some retailers that otherwise would have been shopping at WWDMAGIC said they came to the Off-Price Specialist Show to fill their stock with lower-priced items, from $1 to $3.
One Northern California specialty-store owner said tripling gas prices from the state’s energy crisis are affecting her strategy.
“Our gas prices have gone from $179 a month to $479,” said Grace Steinwand, owner of the Diamond D Bar Western store in Lincoln, Calif. “It’s been very hard on our business. We’re really trying to conserve. We keep half of our lights on and our heat is turned way down.”
Steinwand placed orders for casual denim, shorts sets and floral dresses, but was more selective about purchases than in the past.
Meanwhile, The Exchange, WWDMAGIC’s own off-price show slated to make its debut this go-round, was canceled.
“The exhibitor base said loud and clear that they didn’t want to take part in an off-price show,” said Laura McConnell, general manager of the women’s trade show division for MAGIC International. McConnell added that there are no plans to go forward with the concept in the future.