Spring ASR Trade Expo 1998

In the midst of an El Niño maelstrom, buyers and sellers the world over once again converged on the Long Beach Convention Center for three days of commerce and carousing. While trade shows are traditionally places to do business, the number of after-show parties seems to have quadrupled in the last year. Which is not necessarily a bad thing. But after a long day hoofing the floor, there’s only so much one can do before eight the next morning.

The Long Beach show was a hive of activity, and the increasingly popular closed-booth design indicated that companies were booked with appointments, rather than relying on walk-in buyers. Other popular features were banners and mobiles hanging above booths, which pinpointed those companies’ locations from just about any vantage. The show also featured more oversized booths, with shoe companies occupying the largest ones.

With the snowboarding industry almost completely out of the picture–they focus on SIA in March–skateboarding was again a dominant factor at the show; skateboard and skateboard-related companies covered about 25 percent of the convention-center floor space. Show attendance grew slightly from last year at 16,661, including 6,702 buyers (of which 1,099 were international) representing 3,541 retail stores.

While many of the booths themselves could have won international design awards, several of the new lines and innovative products on display were garnering a great deal of the attention. The following are just a few:

The much-anticipated Adio shoe line was shown at Planet Earth. Five shoes, including pro models from Steve Berra, Jamie Thomas, and Jeremy Wray comprise the introductory collection.

Hub wheels are coming back, with new urethane-core models available from Pig, Livewire, World Industries, and others. Golden State Wheel Co. also continues to offer its Spurs aluminum-core hub wheel.

Lucky bearings revealed the prototype for its new ceramic bearing. Ceramic absorbs less heat than traditional steel balls, so this bearing should run faster and last longer than traditional bearings, and require little or no lubricant.

NHS introduced Roofie’s Graphic Griptape, which had everyone talking. The technology allows them to print just about any image onto griptape. Like slick-bottom boards, the possibilities will be exploited in time.

The long-awaited Fury truck made its appearance. Rune Glifberg was even seen riding a set during the vert demos. The trucks feature a curious ball pivot and built-in nut locks, and are available in 7.75-, 8.0-, and 8.5-inch widths. Rune seems to have taken to them–his skating was as ballistic as ever.

Probably the best indication that the skateboard industry is alive and well is the number of new skate-like products being shown–descendants of Snake Board and the like. Most of them will (hopefully) be gone by September, if only to be replaced by even more extreme variations.

When ASR arrives in San Diego for the fall show, we hope that El Niño is also history. Long days in the fluorescent buzz and air conditioning of the show are more easily overcome with warm, dry, festive nights. As for the days, well, that’s business.