This past March, SIA announced that the 2013 SIA show dates would be moved to January 12-15. Shortly after that announcement NSSRA began hearing from our members that these dates were too early. In response to those concerns the NSSRA board of directors shared these concerns with SIA leadership. A meeting was called by SIA chairman Tim Petrick to further discuss the issue and on April 21 members of the NSSRA board met in Baltimore MD with representatives of SIA and ski rep groups to discuss the show date issue.
The position of SIA throughout the discussion was that a national show is good for the industry. While there may be retailers that would argue that point, there are certain truths to that position. Having one large, impressive event gives life to the industry; it creates tremendous visibility for the industry; it brings everyone together in a place and time that allows for face to face discussions and more.
With regard to the meeting itself, the first thing that was evident was how much deliberation had gone into the decision to move the show dates. While the decision was made quickly, it was evident that this was not an easy decision. Secondly, there was absolutely no consensus within the SIA membership as to "correct" show dates. Some vendors prefer early dates others don't.
Some of the vendors in favor of early dates were clothing manufacturers. A discussion ensued that covered how clothing production has changed over the years. Off shore production has given us more stable pricing but at a cost. Lead times, duty issues, and other logistic issues are real and are a huge issue for these vendors.
Additionally, other show dates and the conflicts they create for vendors, retailers and reps were an issue. ISPO is an issue for some vendors but most didn't care. It was clear that within their organization, let alone ours, there are no good show dates!
From the start it was evident that the SIA board had heard the retail community. Through the actions of NSSRA board members in contacting their reps and vendors management and through NSSRA president Larry Weindruch's actions of sending a press release stating our concerns about the dates to so many media outlets, it was evident walking into the meeting that SIA knew the dates they had wouldn't work. The discussions that ensued were never about keeping the new dates; they were about trying to figure out what the next best option was.
In the end it was decided to move the 2013 dates back to Jan 31- Feb 3. These dates are essentially the "old" or current dates on the 2013 calendar cycle. I think that most of us in the room would agree that these dates were the best option of all the dates we had to choose from.
During the meeting there were discussions about show dates in the mid February to March time frame. Many years ago we had show dates during this time frame and they worked well for retailers. The problem with these dates is that the world is a different place today.
With the exception of a few manufacturers, the snowsport clothing industry and indeed almost the entire world clothing industry is sourced out of China and surrounding countries. The snowsport industry is such a minutely small player in the scheme of things that the factories that actually manufacture the clothing have been able to dictate longer and longer lead times to snowsport vendors, which in turn means earlier order dates for retailers. The one clothing vendor that was part of this meeting indicated there would be little reason for clothing vendors to attend a late show as they are almost fully written by late February to early March.
The deeper the discussion got into all the considerations of the various stakeholders within the snowsport industry the more evident it became that there are no good show dates. The dates we settled on aren't particularly good for retailers and they aren't particularly good for many vendors or reps. One thing we do know is that based on the strong attendance of last year's trade show, these dates work.
One good thing to come of this issue is that it brought NSSRA together with SIA for face-to-face talks about issues that are important to us both. During this discussion it was brought up by an SIA member that it might be a good idea to conduct this type of meeting on an annual basis. There are many issues that retailers have that need to be addressed; growing snowsports, low inventory turns, increased inventory risk on retailers, reducing the time and cost of ordering, and more. It is important to have a time and place to have those discussions. It looks like that might happen.
There were a number of individuals from the membership of NSSRA that worked on this effort; Tom Gately and Tom Fuerst from SMC buying group, Steve Rogers and Bob Rudy from SSL buying group, and retailers Paul Pruztman, Wilbur Rice and Alan Davis. Thank you to those individuals and to the board of directors of NSSRA who individually contacted their reps and vendors on behalf of the organization.
Lastly, to retailers and vendor members that have supported NSSRA by paying the dues of the organization, thank you for your support.
To retailers and organizations that that have benefitted from this and other issues addressed by NSSRA, and those of you who are willing to help with efforts to support specialty retailers, please consider joining. Please do it today. We need your support.
Send an e-mail to Larry Weindruch (firstname.lastname@example.org), and he will help you get started as a new NSSRA member.
Brad Nelson, Chairman, NSSRA