McLEAN, VA ¿ “This will be one of the most exciting things we’ve done in 10 years,” said Steve Batchelder, president of the New England Winter Sports Reps Association, at the meeting of the SIA Trade Show Committee, on June 14 in Las Vegas. The Eastern, New England and Western Winter Sports Rep Associations all endorsed the new show dates and said their groups are working to help ease the transition.

“We’re so convinced that this is going to work that we’ve committed to hold our shows in sync with SIA’s for the next four years,” said Morgan Turner, president of WWSRA. “Most of our reps are excited about the change because it saves them from having to spend a lot of money to preview their lines themselves. The major companies are now making the ‘first impression’ so the reps can focus on the on-snow demos and on writing orders. I think we’re seeing that ‘See It, Try It, Buy It’ can really work this season.”

Many rep associations are making extra efforts to work with and facilitate the buy/sell cycle changes. All of the organizations are working to get the information out about their show dates to help retailers plan their buying schedule. NEWSRA has moved their last show into early/mid March. EWSRA is consolidating their shows and has condensed their buying cycle. In addition, WWSRA has committed to include cross-country in their on-snow demos in order to make retailers’ on-snow experiences more comprehensive.

The newly formed Retailer Advisory Group met on June 13 in Las Vegas to discuss transition issues stemming from an earlier SIA Show and the new buy/sell cycle. Since the season is now positioned as the buying season’s “kickoff”, the buyers also commented that they would like to bring back added excitement, with more interesting presentations and more parties spread throughout the week.

“I think that if the show is done right it could be a very positive change for the industry,” said Linda Klein, owner of Willis’ Ski Shop in Pittsburgh, PA. “If the suppliers have jazzy presentations with the full color lines, that would really get all the buyers revved up for the season. If we walk away feeling the same excitement that we’d like our customers to feel, then you have a winner. I think that the preview show format is an opportunity to spread a new sense of excitement throughout the entire industry.”

Karen Nestor, owner of Nestor’s Sporting Goods in Whitehall, PA, commented, “If I made 3% fewer mistakes during the buying season because I attended the show and saw the full color lines, then that would pay for my trip right there.”

Bob Olson, owner of Viking Ski Shop in Mt. Prospect, IL, said, “I’ve been in favor of the change in show dates for a long time. I think that to see the whole picture, all the lines in all the colors, at one time will be very beneficial. You can make a much better buying decision, and avoid costly mistakes and missed opportunities. To see it all in five days flat is well worth the time away from my shop.”

SIA received valuable feedback about the new format for the 2002 SIA SnowSports Show. Among the suggestions made, retailers said they’d like to see suppliers make it easier for them to get a full overview of all the lines at the show. The way to do this, they said, was for suppliers to have full color lines and color catalogs available, use enhanced lighting in the booths, merchandise their products better, and open up exhibit space to be more welcoming to all buyers. Another suggestion was for SIA to provide buyers with the use of digital cameras so that they can email themselves pictures of the lines for later review.

Retailers at the first meeting included: Gary Cole, owner of Cole Sport in Park City, UT; Alan Davis, owner of Princeton Sports & Travel in Columbia, MD; Linda Klein, owner of Willi’s Ski Shop in Pittsburgh, PA; Jim McWethy, owner of the Sports Hut in Wayzata, MN; Karen Nestor, owner of Nestor’s Sporting Goods in Whitehall, PA; Bob Olson, owner of Viiking Ski Shop in Mt. Prospect, IL; Jan Peterson, owner of Jan’s Mountain Outfitters in Park City, UT; and Bill Quigley, owner of Danzeisen and Quigley in Cherry Hill, NJ. Hugh Harley, president of Rossignol and SIA Board chairman, serves as chairman for the group.