SBJ/January 9 - 15, 2006/Other News

Turn out the lights: This month’s Super Show will be the last

This month’s annual industry show of the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association will be the 21st and last Super Show. After years of flagging attendance, followed by the withdrawal of some of the top athletic brands and sports properties, the SGMA will opt to go with two smaller shows in 2007: the SGMA Spring Market, slated for June in Las Vegas, and the SGMA Fall Market, scheduled for October on the East Coast.

For years, retailers, brands and licensees have said the Super Show’s January event did not fit with their buying patterns, and the recent consolidation of sporting goods retailers and manufacturers made the need for the Super Show less important.

“With so much consolidation, the question with all these [trade shows] was whether you could justify the expense, which is considerable,” said Susan Rothman, vice president of consumer products at the NFL, which has not had a booth at the Super Show for several years.

“Sports are seasonal by their nature and you just couldn’t find a date that satisfied everyone’s need,” said Phoenix Footwear Group CEO Rick White, a longtime exhibitor and attendee at the show when he was in senior management at MLB Properties, Nike and trade show company Reed Exhibitions. “Companies are under pressure now to show ROI for everything, including trade shows where they used to spend millions just to have a presence in front of the industry.”

From a macro perspective, the question is whether omnibus trade shows have outlived their usefulness. In the world of sporting goods, niche shows have become more important. K2, with its vast collection of sporting-goods brands, including Rawlings, Worth and Shakespeare, would seem a natural for a larger show like the Super Show. But K2 president of licensing and promotions Scott Dickey, who has been attending the Super Show since 1990 while in various positions with the NBA and Spalding, said, “With fewer retailers, if you need to do a trade show, it’s got to be one that’s really focused. For us, the targeted shows like Action Sports Retailer, the Outdoor Show or the Ski Industry Association shows all work, because they are so targeted.”

The two new SGMA shows are designed with the industry’s changes in mind. The June show will feature products for holiday sales, while the fall show will highlight goods scheduled for spring delivery. The shows also will be targeted at small and midsized companies, and the Super Show name is being dropped.

“We need to send a message that we are going in a different direction to be responsive to changing dynamics within the industry,” said SGMA president and CEO Tom Cove. “The Super Show didn’t evolve with the industry, so we’re letting it run its course.”

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