TransWorld Business hit the floor in Orlando, Florida last week for Surf Expo, checking in with surf brands and retailers to find out what’s moving and trending in apparel, hardgoods, and accessories. Now that the show has come to a close, Surf Expo has reported that it had the largest attendance on record since 2005, with more than 14,000 retailers, exhibitors, and media, covering 240,000 square feet of floor space at the Orange County Convention Center.
“Our show was bursting at the seams with exhibitors and buyers – all in a positive mood and doing business on the floor," says Show Director Roy Turner. "From the minute we opened the doors until the show closing, there was an energy that I haven’t seen in years. The positive vibe at Surf Expo shows an industry headed in the right direction as it continues to rebound after the recession.”
Vicki Carson, women’s buyer for San Diego’s Emerald City surf shop, was at Surf Expo for the first time and says the show is one of the few besides Agenda that the shop attends. Using Surf Expo as a jumping off point to write orders for the shop’s swim category, as well as a tool to look for some new up-and-coming brands, says Carson. ” I enjoyed some of the booths I stumbled upon, like Neptunic Shark suits, Jao body oils, Raw Elements mineral based sunscreens, and Maaji swim,” she says. “I think our industry should be leaders in alternative fabrics, such as hemp—I would like to see maybe a special area for the top 10 to 20 earth friendly and/or charitable brands.”
Besides housing several up and coming brands, Surf Expo also had a major presence from the biggest names in surf and skate, including Hurley, Billabong, RVCA, Insight, Quiksilver, Body Glove, to name a few.
"Friday's foot traffic was fantastic—even more than we expected," says RVCA Sales Manager Jonathan McCabe. “We saw 100 accounts who sat through a full line showing. The show stayed busy until 6; we were working until the lights went out. Our order file will be half full within the week."
After checking in with Turner at the show, we learned that attendance had seen a 40% increase just after after day one. Turner and the show crew are busy tabulating the rest of the numbers from the following two days to find out the exact results from this round of Surf Expo. Stay tuned here for that, as well as reactions from retailers and brands, and a full recap from the three-day trade show.
Follow the jump to see photos from Surf Expo Day One