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Surf Expo Wrap Up: Retailers, Brands Weigh In On Last Week’s Show

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This mannequin was partying the whole three days straight. Show highlights photo courtesy of Surf Expo.

The Action Sports industry came together once again in the Sunshine State for three days of tradeshow mania, navigating the aisles of the largest Surf Expo show in its 36 year history at the Orange County Convention Center. With more than 3,500 brands, 250,000 gross square feet of exhibit space, and 12,500 buyers on hand, Surf Expo kicked off last Thursday with lots of new additions, plenty of new products being unveiled, and a high level of energy from show goers, exhibitors and the Surf Expo executive staff. Check out TransWorld Business‘ three day report on the show.

The cumulative number of buyers in attendance saw a 23% spike compared to the January 2012 show, according to Surf Expo’s records.

“We are thrilled by the feedback we’ve received from the show,” says Show Director Roy Turner. “The market was vibrant, optimistic, and ready to stock their shelves for 2013. ”The increase in traffic Surf Expo enjoyed at our January show — whether you’re talking about buyers, exhibitors or media — says volumes about the trust the industry places in Surf Expo to deliver the best buyers, best exhibitors, and the best shopping experience.”

The show was exceptionally productive for Surf Diva co-founder and Buyer Coco Tihanyi, who wrote more than 20 orders while walking the aisles, and was able to bring on 12 new brands.  Located in the heart of La Jolla Shore in San Diego, California, the Surf Diva boutique offers a mix of traditional surf brands and smaller start-up companies.

“Surf Expo is very important for our shop because there are a lot of brands that are not able to hire reps and we are able to connect at the show,” says  Tihanyi. ” Surf Expo is a fantastic venue to meet with the leading brands, see their new collections, and discuss collaborations.”

Some of the up-and-coming brands that stood out for Surf Diva included Team Phun, a San Diego based company that stood out for their logos and colors, as well as a creative spin on the cruiser boards that incorporates an astroturf-covered deck. Also on Surf Diva’s radar was Simbi, a  brand dedicated to improving water quality in Haiti with the sale of their hair-bracelets, and the Body Glove 3T Barefoot water shoe.

Over at Quiksilver, the booth was constantly filled to the max with product showings, and when we checked in with Executive Vice President of Strategic Brand Development Tom Holbrook and Senior VP of Sales Taylor Whisenand.

“We have a really strong customer base along the East Coast, specifically in the surf market, and so Surf Expo is a really strong show for us,” says Whisenand.

Quiksilver also had a booth for it’s Waterman’s collection and a space for its newly created Roxy Outdoor Fitness collection, both located  in the Stand Up Paddle section of the show.

“We did this as an experiment last time in the paddle section and it went so well that we said, ‘hey we’ve got to do it again,’” says Holbrook. This year, Roxy also followed suit with it’s new fitness collection, which also did “very well” at the show, according to Holbrook: “It’s a really great product story—everyone loves it,” he says.

Local retailer Maui Nix, which has close to ten locations in Florida and North Carolina, was also uses the show as a way to visit with brands and give them an overview on changes and updates at the shop level.

“As buying in new seasonal product goes the shows are a great way to knock out a ton of work in an relatively short amount of time as well as being able to take some time out to shop and talk with new brands,” says Maui Nix Menswear Buyer Tim Hatton. “Out of the new brands I saw at the show, Brixton seems to be the stand out having the most buzz. Their booth was constantly busy and I’m testing their apparel for this upcoming spring and summer seasons. I have high expectations for our launch with them.”

All in all, retailers and show-goers alike agreed the show had a higher energy, which carried through the final hours of the show.

“The show had a better feel  than it has had in years, which could be due to the economy starting to pick up again,” comments Hatton. “Let’s hope 2013 is a great year for everyone!”