Footwear Brands Pull Out Of September ASR

Three familiar faces will be absent from the upcoming ASR trade show in September. Sole Technology, Podium Distribution, and C1RCA have all pulled the plug on their involvement with the September show. Group Show Director Andy Tompkins says the timing of the show and the general state of the economy are the main issues at hand.

"For these footwear brands that have larger runs, they're really pushing to get their buys done before the end of August," says Tompkins. "Historically, C1RCA and Sole Tech have been scaling back their presence at the show for years, so this really came as no surprise.

"The economy is definitely playing a part here," Tompkins continues. "These are companies that have experienced layoffs, and PacSun's announcement that they were dropping sneakers probably contributed to their decisions. It's just harder for brands to sell through."

Sole Technology Senior VP of Marketing Don Brown says this is a move his company has been contemplating for quite some time. "We really just wanted to be more proactive in reaching out to our retailers and really engaging them in a way that we can't at ASR," Brown says.

In lieu of the September show, Sole Tech will be focusing its energy—and its half-a-million-dollar budget—on smaller regional shows, as well as having retailers visit the Sole Tech campus in Lake Forest, California. "We have a more intensified focus on reaching out and getting retailers to come to us. There's a lot here to attract people. We have the etnies skate park, the store, the warehouse, and we want the retailers to get a better feel for what we do."

Sole Tech reps will be present in San Diego during the September show, and will be meeting with retailers one-on-one, rather than inside the convention center. "We feel that we have the best rep force in the business, and that's where our focus lies," Brown says. "At the trade show there's so much madness that it's difficult to really accomplish much."

While etnies, éS, and Emerica will not be exhibiting at ASR, apparel brand Altamont will still be exhibiting at the concurrent Agenda trade show, and Thirty-Two will retain its presence at February's SIA show.

Over at Podium, the decision was based purely on timing. "We really need the show to take place more toward the first weekend in August for it to be effective for us," says DVS Senior Marketing Manager Kelley Meidroth.

"Podium really came as the most sudden change of heart," says Tompkins. "But of course we do understand the issues of timing. They're looking at the dates and just trying to see if those dollars are better spent elsewhere."

C1RCA's Dominique Morisset cited similar reasoning for their decision. "The show isn't as relevant for us or our customers anymore," she says. "The timing is not right with our deadlines, so most of the buyers have already seen the line by the time ASR comes around."

Even amongst all this talk of poor timing, Tompkins says the show dates will most likely remain as they are in the coming years. "It's only a handful of companies who are saying the dates are too late in the year. If you ask most of the apparel companies they'll tell you that the dates are dead on," he says. “We do expect that all of these brands will be back in for the January show.”

ASR has weathered this kind of exodus before. In 2000, Tum Yeto started the aptly-named Coup D'état anti-trade show, which drew many of skateboarding's heavy-hitters away from the ASR floor. These days, Agenda is the alternative trade show of choice for many smaller specialty brands, and each year more brands are taking advantage of alternatives such as the upstairs conference rooms to get off of the trade show floor. In 2003, Girl Skateboards chose to host an open house rather than attend ASR, Deluxe Distribution hosted the Bayview Rumble in San Francisco as another alternative, and, for the past few years, Arbor shows products and hosts meetings on a yacht docked in the San Diego harbor, just a few minutes' walk from the convention center.

Couple all this with the fact that ISPO canceled their annual summer show, and it may seem that the trade show landscape is due for some changes. Drop a comment and let us know what you think.

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This year the eS Game Of Skate finals will be held at the Maloof Money Cup instead of the September ASR show.