McLEAN, VA — Frank discussions about the change in the SnowSports Industries America (SIA) Trade Show dates took place last week in Las Vegas among retailers, sales reps, rep association directors, the heads of major buying groups and suppliers. The discussion was part of the fall meeting of the SIA Trade Show committee. The 2002 SIA SnowSports Show will be held January 29 through February 2 at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

“It was an informative meeting and a great forum that represented everyone in the industry,” said Maureen Bliss, executive director of the New England Winter Sports Reps Association (NEWSRA). “It allowed for an open and honest dialogue.”

The group focused its attention on how the show date change will affect the scheduling and efficiencies of the buy/sell cycle; adjustments that have been and will be made with other shows in the cycle; logistics; production and communications issues that will have to be addressed; and how the announcement of the SIA Show date change has been received by retailers.

“I was a little apprehensive when I learned what was happening,” said Jan Peterson, president of Jan Sports, a retailer in Park City, Utah. “No one knew what was going on. Many dealers said they couldn’t go. More and more, as I learned what SIA was trying to do and I looked at my situation, I came around to believing that having the show early is the best thing for the economy of the shop, the dealers and the reps.”

“The SIA Show being positioned as a kick-off is where it needs to be,” added NEWSRA’s Bliss.

Jay Moreau, a member of NEWSRA, also attended the meeting. Representatives from all aspects of the industry ¿ reps, retailers and suppliers ¿ had met in focus groups two years ago to determine the best combination of shows and demos that would make the “ideal” buy/sell cycle. Two of the three groups recommended a cycle that would position the SIA show as a kick-off show in late January followed by regional demos and post shows that would be organized by regional rep associations. Buying group shows also were factored into the cycle. A third group, when asked to consider the ramifications of making these sweeping changes, recommended keeping the buy/sell cycle status quo unless major “roadblocks” were eliminated.

Several of those roadblocks were overcome this year, which enabled members of the industry to make the necessary changes to the buy/sell cycle. First, the Las Vegas Convention Center’s expansion allowed SIA to secure January dates, thus enabling regional rep associations the flexibility to change their show schedules.

Second, because of the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, the Outdoor Retailer Show had to change its dates to the beginning of January and move to Anaheim, Calif. The SIA Show was able to move into the late January time slot and avoid a conflict with OR.

A third consideration was to schedule the SIA Show so that it did not conflict with ISPO or MAGIC. The new show dates in 2002 do not conflict.

“The change in the buy/sell cycle has been a long time in coming,” said Chris Rounds, president of the Midwest Reps Association. “I’ve felt this way from the beginning; the show should be early. My reps have felt for about four or five years that the change in dates is a great way to get back on track. In principle, the reps seem to be behind the change with varying degrees of urgency.”

The group that met last week explored positive and negative reactions to the date change, particularly among retailers. They acknowledged that the various segments of the industry will be affected differently and that there will be challenges to overcome for retailers, reps and suppliers.

The majority opinion was that the time had come to create a more cost and time efficient buy/sell cycle and that changing the SIA Show dates was a key element in that process. Currently, there are 30-plus shows that are organized by three buying groups and six rep groups in addiition to SIA.

“We can’t disagree with the time frame,” added Steve Rogers, president of Sports Specialists, Inc. “We will clarify with our stores what we are doing in 2002 around the new venue.” SSL tentatively plans to hold its buying group show in conjunction with the SIA Show at the LasVegas Convention Center.

“The industry is changing so much, it makes no sense to keep doing the same thing,” said Peterson. “This proposed schedule is the best possible way to make an efficient buy/sell cycle happen. I’m chairman of the National Ski and Snowboard Retailers Association and I’ll send letters to our members telling them that I support the change.”

“We are extremely pleased with this news and are looking forward to the prospect of becoming a part of this event once again,” said Tim Boyle, president of Columbia Sportswear. “Snow sports are an integral part of our business and our participation in the SIA show helps to reinforce our position as the largest seller of skiwear in the world.”

The next SIA SnowSports Show is March 9-13, 2001.