You really missed it. If you weren’t at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center, and attending the 2003 SnowSports Industries America (SIA) trade show, you missed Gwar, Vivid Girls, stink bombs, piñatas, defecating stuffed goats, tequila shots, punk bands, and a lot more craziness. You also missed some of the slickest snowboard product presentations ever given. And you missed the best snowboard trade show in the last decade. Period.

As Dale Rehberg from M3/Silence/Avalanche sums up: “Our booth felt like 1994 all over again. For the first two days, it was going off. There were people in the booth raging, and retailers are writing orders. And this new facility is fantastic. I told all the people at GES how great they are.”

The new venue definitely put people in the positive mind frame. The SIA show was actually the second show ever held at the just-opened convention center at the Mandalay Bay hotel and casino. And it got rave revues from manufacturers and retailers alike.

“This is the best SIA show in a long time,” says Spike Clayton, from the Ski Rack/Downhill Edge in Burlington, Vermont. “It’s so convenient. This convention center and hall is the right size for the industry.

He also says the show was much easier to attend because he didn’t have to write orders each night trying to meet deadlines at the end of the week. “This is a preview show,” Clayton says. “I don’t have to make rush decisions. I’ve got a shit load of money on the line with my orders and I’m going to take my time and make sure I order correctly.”

Other retailers also felt the pressure relief.

“This is a great show,” says Larry Ruppé, buyer for Ski Pro in Mesa, Arizona. “There’s so much excitement. I saw everything and it worked for me. Because this is a preview show, it’s definitely more relaxed. I’m not pressured to write orders in my hotel room each night to hit the order deadlines. I can focus on image and what’s happening with the different brands. It’s great because I’m not supposed to have sell-through numbers until later. And when I do, I’ll place better orders.”

But placing those orders is going to be tough on Ruppé and other retailers because of what they saw at the show. “I’ve seen the best product I’ve ever seen,” says Ruppé. “Everyone stepped it up.”

Other retailers agreed. “I fell like we’ve seen a lot of sharp product,” says Evan Josloff, buyer for Blades in New York, New York. “It’ll be difficult to select brands to order. But the show worked really well for me. With the due dates later, I’ve got time to do my orders.”

Chris Bachman, owner of Shred Shop in Skokie, Illinois, agreed with the others: “This show is nice. There’s been no pressure to buy at any of our meetings. It’s good that they’re not pressing you. And there are a lot of cool lines.” He also agrees that writing the orders will be the hard part. Because of a bad snow season, Shred Shop is going to trim its orders for next season.