SGMA's future show strategy ousts The Super Show

In a not-truly-surprising announcement, the SGMA has said this month's 21st Super Show – an event on which the association had hung its hat for years but one that recently had lost its shine – will be its last. At the same time, the group revealed a post-Super Show plan starting in 2007 that includes two shows...

In a not-truly-surprising announcement, the SGMA has said this month’s 21st Super Show – an event on which the association had hung its hat for years but one that recently had lost its shine – will be its last.

At the same time, the group revealed a post-Super Show plan starting in 2007 that includes two shows: the SGMA Spring Market, slated for June 2007, in Las Vegas, which will focus on holiday and first-quarter deliveries; and an SGMA Fall Market, slated for October 2007, in an as-yet-unnamed major East Coast city, to focus on back-to-school and third-quarter deliveries.

“The Super Show was a wonderful event for 21 years,” SGMA President and CEO Tom Cove told SNEWS®, “and we recognized finally its time had run, and that is that.”

Monumental decision
Recognizing the need to bid adieu to The Super Show and then actually pulling the plug took more than a year of debate among association executives, board members and the group’s membership, Cove acknowledged, calling it a “huge decision.” When asked if the board decision was unanimous, he said simply, “The board approved this.”

Although announced as two shows on two coasts, Cove maintained these are not regional shows, but rather national trade shows, each with slightly different missions.

The June market will likely include spring team sports (apparel and equipment) such as soccer and baseball, running and performance footwear, racquet sports, paintball and fitness, among other segments. The October market is expected to showcase fall and winter team sports, footwear and licensed apparel and gear. But both, Cove said, could showcase whichever segment gravitates toward the timing.

“The basic concept here is the timing,” he explained. “A two-show-per-year concept makes sense and, secondly, an East Coast-West Coast scenario makes sense.”

Nevertheless, the SGMA stands by the belief that the industry needs a national trade event, although one perhaps without quite the glitz, booth-one-upmanship, and costs of The Super Show. The cost to exhibit at The Super Show had risen to a point that often excluded the little guys, which the new SGMA shows should not do, Cove said.

Not a trade show company
Although continuing its trade show history, the association’s goal is to give its members what they need, which for now they have said includes a show.

“In the end, we identified our place to be a leader in the sporting goods industry,” Cove explained. And that doesn’t mean the SGMA’s only mission is to produce shows.

“We’re not just a trade show company fronting as a trade association,” he said. “We even gave serious consideration to getting out of the trade show business.”

Although SGMA owned The Super Show name and the event, it was operated by and profits were shared with a Florida company run by Stanley Schwartz and Hardy Katz under a long-term contract. Cove declined to discuss the financial matters of exiting from any agreements or if the SGMA had to bear any costs. He did say, however, that “The Super Show is not going to be continuing,” even without the SGMA’s oversight.

“We had a long and productive history,” Cove summarized of the business relationship and of the show, which will long be remembered for its must-attend glory days of bustling aisles, huge and glitzy booths, dancing shows, and celebrities around every corner.

In addition to these new shows, in late summer, the SGMA had already announced two new events – an Industry Leaders Summit, now slated as an add-on day to the National PE Day in May, and a so-called Sports and Technology Convergence. The technology event is also set for October – as is the newly announced Fall Market – but in La Jolla, Calif. (Click here to see that Aug. 5, 2005, announcement “SGMA looks to future with new events, continues Super Show re-assessment”.)

“The goal isn’t to make some crazy big fancy trade show,” Cove said, “but our goal is to improve the growth and vitality of the sporting goods industry.”

SNEWS® View: A late-breaking press release on Jan. 3, which was actually dated Jan. 4, announced news that many had assumed was coming for some time. The Super Show had become a mere shadow of itself and nearly an embarrassment not only to the SGMA, but also to the industry as well as to the consumer media that was baited to come to what was dubbed a huge event with tens of thousands of attendees. There is only so long one can keep up the smoke-and-mirrors routine in halls that in the past few years could have passed for bowling alleys after hours. Not to say that companies didn’t still do business. Many lamented the waste of their money, but others noted that one or two appointments ended up bringing them enough business or a new distributor that made it all worthwhile. Still, the big-gun sporting goods retail buyers didn’t just wander the show, leaving some small or new manufacturers wondering aloud where they were (Hint: In private meetings all day or still back in their home offices.)

The new strategy with two seasonally and geographically timed shows … err, markets … could indeed help some segments return since the January time frame – especially for fitness – was a disaster for some. The June market has supposedly gotten “positive feedback” from fitness manufacturers and suppliers. We’ll see when it’s time for signups this year. With June dates set, however, and the intimate specialty-focused Health & Fitness Business Show in early August, the question to be answered is which will be able to capture the specialty fitness market’s fancy. With timing that close, they can’t both serve the small fitness industry. We’re also wondering if the June Market might also compete with the ispo sporting goods show in early July in Germany for international attendees.

Although everyone was just waiting for the other shoe to drop on The Super Show, knowing the show in three weeks in Orlando, Fla., Jan. 23-25, will be the last is certain to bring out a few extra buyers and visitors just to reminisce, give a speech, raise a glass, and then turn to move on to the future.