DMG World Media, parent company of Surf Expo, has bought the Radshow, the Mid Atlantic’s top show for back-to-school and at-once buying. The deal means that the Radshow, which will be held this year on April 11 and 12 in Ocean City, Maryland, now falls under Surf Expo’s lineup of trade events.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Radshow Founder Brad “B-Rad” Hoffman calls it “an equitable partnership.” “There will be a buyout that takes me to the next level in my business career along with Surf Expo having total ownership of the Radshow,” adds Hoffman, who will join the Surf Expo staff as Radshow director and field-marketing manager. “I’m super stoked on the dollars they’ve put out for my show, and we’ve reached a good agreement on my salary.”
Surf Expo is also excited about the arrangement. According to Lori Kisner, Surf Expo vice president, the acquisition was a good match and a positive step forward for both organizations. Surf Expo has had a growing interest in producing a back-to-school show, and the Radshow already had seven years’ worth of experience under its belt.
“We just didn’t want to go head-to-head and put him Hoffman out of business when he’d already done six or seven years’ worth of developing,” says Kisner. “The Radshow was a one-man operation — just like Surf Expo was a one-man operation when we bought it in 1988 — and we hope to get in there and develop it and grow it not only within the surf and skate market, but even outside of that into general young-men’s apparel.”
While Surf Expo will help expand the Radshow through marketing and branding — as well as add legitimacy to the event — Hoffman says the show will still uphold its low-key, fun, and productive vibe. “Their plans are to not raise the booth prices — keep it at 650 dollars for a ten-by-ten booth,” says Hoffman. “The rooms are still going to be 69 dollars, as opposed to what you see at all the other shows — like 150- and 200-dollar rooms. We’re going to keep it in Ocean City, Maryland, and we’re making it no frills — no aisle carpet, so you’ll still be able to skateboard in the aisles.”
This is good news for East Coast retailers like Mark Colino of No Flat Earth in Brick, New Jersey, who feared that a takeover would ruin the show’s carefree atmosphere. “I used to be a rep for Rip Curl for four years and we used to attend the show because it was super affordable and it was in a good location,” says Colino. “People didn’t erect huge booths or try to out-do each other. The timing was good because you could get back-to-school or crazy at-once summer stuff. Everything about it was really cool. It was just a mix of enough of what you needed without the unnecessary extras or expense.”
Surf Expo was also attracted to the Radshow’s efficiency, but what made it even more enticing was the timing, location, and most importantly it’s the only show for back-to-school buying. “We rely pretty heavily on our retail advisory board, and they’ve been asking for a back-to-school show for years,” says Kisner. “The Radshow is a well-established event, and we look forward to working with Brad to make the show even stronger.
“It’s a great location,” Kisner continues. “Ocean City is within a three- to-four-hour drive from Long Island, New York, on down to the Carolinas. It’s really taking care of Northeast and Mid Atlantic.”
Now that there’s a Surf Expo-produced show, will the retailers and manufacturers come? Kisner says yes. Past exhibitors include Quiksilver, Volcom, Hurley, and Billabong, and Kisner expects all the major players to attend. The show will expand from 100-plus booths to perhaps as many as 300 to 400 booths.
Even though Hoffman has sold the Radshow, he will continue to oversee it. Surf Expo has hired him as Radshow director and field-marketing manager. While Surf Expo’s headquarters are in Atlanta, Georgia, Hoffman will continue to work out of his office in Ocean City, Maryland. Most of his time, however, will be spent on tthe road where he’ll be visiting stores and meeting with reps. “They don’t need me behind a phone selling booth space,” he says. “They need me out there guiding the Radshow and helping them to institute the new ideas of Surf Expo.
“I’m excited about the acquisition,” continues Hoffman. “The industry has always been extremely supportive of both Surf Expo and the Radshow, and I’m pleased to be able to take it to the next level as part of the Surf Expo team.”