Mar 21, 2007

The Case for the "Third Show"

I don't have a crystal ball and can predict what will happen at Memory Trends this year. I DO know that the attendance numbers were down in 2006 and that it will be moving to Florida in 2008 after a last run in Vegas this year. That will be a bonus for companies in that region of the country who have had to fly to the midwest or the west coast for trade shows. But does that mean the "third show" is not worth attending or exhibiting at? I don't think so. I think we are making a mistake by pushing it out.

Whatever happens, I do think there is a case for having an "industry only" show. We, the scrapbook industry, are grown up enough to merit our OWN show. Many industries have 2,3,4, etc. shows specific to their industry each year. My husband spends a great deal of time each year flying to them in his industry.

CHA is great, however, it's the biggest show you've ever seen and I don't appreciate having to wade through yarn, fabric and floral to find the scrapbook section. Not to mention that they don't separate out the new vendors in the new vendors section by category. So, to find the new scrapbook vendors, I must walk the entire section. Also, the scrapbook section takes up nearly 50% of the show. Yes, CHA would be sad to see us go, but honestly, I would love to see a movement to pull away from one of the CHA shows in deference to our OWN show.

I guess I don't understand the whining against the third show. The Needle Arts, Stationary and Fabric industries all have large trade shows on their own and are STILL part of CHA. Shoot, the Professional Scrapbook Retailers Organization (PSRO) is part of the big Photo Marketing Association(PMA) show. That's an additional show that no one seems to be whining about. There are many segments of the craft industry represented at CHA who have their own LARGE trade shows.

I spend more time connecting with old friends at the smaller show. They are, frankly, easier to find at Memory Trends than they are at CHA. The pace is slower and events are easier to plan and find. I also embrace the educational opportunities that can be found at a trade show. Who doesn't need fresh ideas and inspiration regularly to keep their business humming along? I believe a different show run by different people brings a different approach. If CHA is all we have, we all risk becoming homogenized into a boring chain store. An independent show is going to be less costly for a new company to attend. And, in an industry built by "independents", we should appreciate the different approach. Shame on us for supporting only the "chain show" when "chains" are what we worry about.

We have created this idea that three shows means three batches of new products? How did we get to that place and who's fault is it? Did the consumers create this concept? Did the shows? Did the magazines? I think we know where the blame hangs. We just don't want to admit it. Instead of three new product cycles each year, how about committing to bring fresh ideas rather than new products to the shows? Consumers will get over it and retailers will appreciate it.

I, for one, think the industry needs to embrace the opportunity to have our own little party each year to reconnect and get to know each other. Bring fresh ideas for the products introduced at the winter show and let the summer show be taken over by the floral and yarn people while we party-on with each other at another date and place. I think it can only serve to strenghten our ties to one another which, in turn, will strengthen the industry that we all love.


Anonymous said...

Our own little party? That's a pretty expensive party! Trade shows cost a lot of money to exhibit at, even the non-chain show. And yes, retailers expect new product. Retraining the retailers not to expect new product releases at a third show would be more difficult than eliminating the third show. The first thing buyers ask when they walk into the booth is "what's new?", not "what's the new spin on the old product?"

I am all for the elimination of the third show. It's time for this industry to realize it is a BUSINESS, not a party, and think about what's good for the industry as a whole. Otherwise, we're going to implode. As for those articles you mentioned, they gave terrific ideas about what could be done with the third trade-show budget, such as using it to bring newbies into the craft instead of just focusing on the existing market.

Yes, I have exhibited at all three shows, even in the same calendar year. We stopped exhibiting at Memory Trends because the sales didn't warrant the expense. I no longer wish to try to sell my product line to hung-over buyers in Las Vegas. Or try to figure out which people are buyers and who are designers looking for free product. Reconnect? Get to know each other? Yes, those are important in building business relationships. But at Memory Trends, most of the conversations I witnessed in 2006 were in the aisles among friends, not in the booths making sales.

Even though we're in a feel-good industry, we have bills to pay and if the orders placed at the show don't cover expenses, we can't continue with that show. It's business, not a party.

Anonymous said...

Kim, I normally agree with 95% of what you say... I appreciate your cander and honesty, and the fact that you bring reality to consumers (and others too!) who many not realize all the inside workings of this business. In your remarks about 'case for the third show' however, I wholeheartedly disagree. In fact, the annon comment made here was spot on. I am a manufacturer, and while I've never done MT, I can say, without a doubt, that it is a drain on retailer and manufacturer resources. Yes, other industries have all sorts of shows, but they aren't doing any better than us, in fact many of them are scaling back as well. No matter which of these trade shows we exhibit at we easily spend $10K or more, and we are *small*... I can not justify spending $30k or more each year just to exhibit... that doesn't even begin to cover the cost of creating, manufacturing, marketing new product. insanity! 2 shows is enough!!

Kim Guymon said...

Ahhh, you missed the point. It's not that CHA summer should be eliminated, it's that our product cycles should be CHA WINTER and then another "industry only" show later in the year. CHA carried on without us for years and will get over the industry not showing up for the Summer show.

Vegas may not be the place for the industry-only show (personally, I despise the Las Vegas strip area). Salt Lake City would be the logical place. But, I stand by my opinion that we need our own show. Three shows is too many - on that we can agree. But I believe that we are raging about the wrong "third show".

Anonymous said...

We are not really our own industry. We are simply a sub-set of an existing industry - crafts. And, as such, we need to be working with other craft vendors to attract new consumers and build our presence in the crafts industry. The numbers should make you realize this - we have been down-sizing for at least 18 months - many, many companies have closed - not sold - CLOSED for good. Many stores have also closed and many more are struggling to stay open.

As for the "wrong show" scenario - I, too used to believe that it would be ACCI that would be the show to go. But when they hooked up with HIA, the combined force warranted me re-thinking which show would survive.

If an "industry" cannot support its' own show - we are not really an industry, then - are we?

Kim Guymon said...

We CAN support our own show. Being part of a larger industry doesn't really matter. Look at what happened to Comdex. It simply got TOO BIG and they cancelled it. Big isn't always better as Comdex has proven. Now, there are lots of smaller shows that have come out of Comdex - the consumer electronics show being one of them.

Recently, a trade show JUST for car wash owners took place in Vegas. There are also Dollar Store Shows, phone card distributor shows, etc. All of those would seemingly not be big enough to support their own show and would perhaps be part of a bigger show, but they aren't.

My husband is a director of Data Centers for a private company. He goes to shows all over the place for his very specialized part of the IT industry.

Yes, our industry has taken a downturn, but it's still growing - just more slowly. IMO, that makes it MORE neccessary to put our collective heads together in a private setting to figure out how to introduce scrapbooking to MORE people and how to provide educational opportunties (rather than just new products) to current scrapbookers.

The problem is that we have gotten caught in the new product cycle. That will crush a company pretty fast - and many have been crushed by that. BUT, if current inventory had a longer tail, meaning that it had a longer shelf life, then we would certainly be a more stable industry.

A "scrapbook industry" only show would give us the opportunity to figure all this out. The problem is that very few people want to try to fix the issues we have created.

Anonymous said...

From what I heard at a Smart Group meeting, the Memory Trends show will now be a part of the PMA show from now on. They will go where ever PMA goes. No longer will Memory Trends be a stand alone show. It makes sense for them to partner with the Photo Marketing Assocation since photos and scrapbooking obviously are match made in heaven! Many wholesalers are even choosing to participate in the PMA show over the CHA Winter show since they are so close together. I believe Creative Imaginations may be one of them. I own a retail scrapbook store in California and I have been to both CHA and Memory Trends and between the two, I prefer Memory Trends. It's much smaller and I don't have to trudge past all the booths that have nothing to do with my market. If I had to choose one over the other, I'll stick with Memory Trends. I'd love to see CHA drop back to one show a year and let PMA/Memory Trends do the other. It makes more sense. Just my observations...