San Diego, CA – The announcement that Nielsen Expositions had pulled the plug on its Action Sports Retailer (ASR) trade show in San Diego apparently came as no surprise to the surfing industry and could signal the development of a new event in the near future.
The Surf Industry Manufacturers Association (SIMA) said it is looking into the creation of a new forum to “gather the tribe” somewhere on the West Coast. SIMA added it was also exploring enhancements to its relationships with Nielsen’s Outdoor Retailer and dmg world media’s Surf Expo.
“We look forward to working closely with our partners in the coming months to build a new model of what these events can and should be,” said Doug Palladini, president of SIMA. “We have a plethora of good ideas we have been considering for some time now that can be put into action.”
Duke Edukas, a California surf shop owner and co-chair of the Board Retailers Association (BRA), said the end of the line for ASR was “bittersweet.”
“On one hand, an iconic trade show that has helped retailers like myself build their shop over the years is gone,” Edukas said. “On the other hand, our industry has the opportunity to design an event format that meets the needs of our modern day business models.”
Nielsen said in announcing the indefinite suspension of the biennial ASR that consolidation among retailers and increasingly diverse product lines in stores had changed the business. “This dynamic, combined with tight credit markets, has been hard on the new, smaller or up-and-coming brands as well as many independent surf, skate and boutique retailers,” said Andy Tompkins, vice president of Nielsen Sports Group.
Tompkins said Nielsen would regroup around Outdoor Retailer as an outlet for ASR exhibitors. “We will be increasing our efforts to expand the retail and brand base as well as the culture of the Outdoor Retailer shows in Salt Lake City to better serve the growth needs of the action sports communities,” he said.
Palladini, who is also vice president of marketing for Vans, a major manufacturer of shoes and clothing popular with surfers, skateboarders and other enthusiasts in the space served by ASR, said the end of the show after 29 years was a sign of the evolution of the surfing industry into a nationwide presence, with more-diverse product lines and changing production schedules.
“The fact that the surf industry has outgrown the West Coast trade show model of the past two decades is actually a very positive step forward,” he said. “Our industry is maturing and our members are taking more control of their own businesses, addressing retail partnerships directly, and building business relationships across their entire organizations all year long.”
SIMA and BRA currently co-sponsor Surf Summit, an industry conference held in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. The event draws about 400 attendees and does not include an exhibit hall. Its marketing materials promise ample opportunities for “social surfing and networking.”