The lingering recession helped the Off Price Specialist Show boost both its retail attendance and exhibitor count.

This story first appeared in the September 10, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The show, which ended a five-day run at the Sands Expo Center last week, attracted 10 percent more buyers and exhibitors this time around, according to show management.

“This is a needful spot for retailers,” said David Lapidos, senior vice president of the Brookfield, Wis.-based show. “They’re looking for bargains, and we have them. You can’t run a retail store today waiting nine months for goods to arrive. We’re offering a spot market.”

Like in prior years, the show’s men’s wear offerings focused mainly on sportswear, although there were a few tailored clothing and accessories brands as well. Some 45 percent of the booths offered men’s wear.

Tony Peters, vice president of sales for Bermo Enterprises, based in Schoolhouse, Mich., which offered a large assortment of men’s merchandise, said the company had its most success with branded graphic printed T-shirts at $4 wholesale, and jeans at $5.90. “We normally do a lot of winter outerwear here,” he said, “but the retailers are waiting this year. They’re definitely more cautious.”

Ira Eisenberg, president of Wise Buys Inc. of Atlanta, was pleased with his sales of long-sleeve woven shirts and jeans priced to retail under $20. “If it can’t be sold for $20 or under, it’s not selling,” he said.

Alex Mizrahi, president of Los Angeles-based Mizrahi-Gardner, found retailers gravitating toward graphic Hybrid T-shirts for men and boys. “Both categories are selling wonderfully for us,” he said, noting that “skull prints are still happening” and “all-over printed Ts,” were popular as well. The Ts were priced to retail from $7 to $15, he said.

Kelly Calhoun, manager of Hammer’s Department Store in Clinton, Tenn., was glad to have shopped the show: “We found a few new sources and we were able to complete some areas we were in need of like college football merchandise, name brand fleece and a lot of insulated workwear. When you have it all in one place, you are able to hit so many more vendors.”

The Off Price Specialist Show had a total attendance of 10,318 with over 450 exhibitors.

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