Surf Brands Turning Out for Upcoming Surf Expo
Surf Expo returns in early September in Orlando. And from what we are hearing, the brand turnout is robust.
We asked Emerald SVP and Surf Expo Show Director Roy Turner for more details about what brands are attending, how the retail registration is trending, if events will be part of the show, and how Surf Expo is handling safety protocols given the continued COVID crisis.
How is the September show shaping up? What are some of the brands that are committed?
Emerald SVP and Surf Expo Show Director Roy Turner: We are extremely excited about how the September show has come together. Anchor brands in the Surf section that are participating include Billabong, Hurley, O’Neill, Quiksilver, Rip Curl, Roxy, RVCA, Vissla and Volcom. Also exhibiting are a great group of trending brands with Jetty, Katin, Avid, Pura Vida, Flojos, Dakine, Lotus & Luna, Sun Bum, Simbi, Rhythm, Primitive and more.
Other areas of the show are just as strong with brands like Salt Life and Huk in the Bluewater, and in the Swim area, Seafolly, Feather 4 Arrow, Quintsol and Snapper Rock. In wake, we have Ronix, Radar, Centurion, Supreme, Moomba, Supra, Yamaha and WOW Watersports. Our boutique, gift and resort sections have all the anchor brands participating as well.
We also have 60-plus brands showing at Surf Expo for the first time. All in all, we have a great selection of brands for our buyers. The brands really stepped up their game by committing to Surf Expo September in a big way, we are excited to present a great lineup to the buyers.
How does the retail attendance look?
Roy Turner: We surpassed our preregistration projections more than a week ago and people continue to sign up daily. We could easily see 6,000 qualified buyers preregistered before the show opens.
We understand that attendance will be affected by COVID. Some people will not be comfortable traveling and some stores are affected by lack of staff, which could force some owners to stay home and man their stores. That said, the continued registrations we are seeing heading into the show reaffirm that buyers will be coming.
How will this show compare to a typical September show pre-pandemic?
Roy Turner: While I would not begin to call any show in the current climate normal, I can say that we are once again bringing together key buyers and sellers in the surf and related beach and resort industries for what will be an incredibly valuable show.
In addition to getting business done safely, there will be a full track of education, fashion shows, skate park contests, a Wakeboard Pro Tour event, WSL in the house with Rip Curl, sustainability exhibition by UNIFI/REPREVE, our industry party sponsored by 4ocean and much more.
Normal? No, not yet, but all the pieces will be in place for what our attendees expect from Surf Expo.
Did you expect that there would be this level of interest for the September show?
Roy Turner: I’m not surprised because I think that brands and retailer truly want to come together. So much more happens at Surf Expo than just writing orders. Relationships are made – and even sometimes repaired – face-to-face, something that cannot happen in an email or through Zoom. Surf Expo is where new brands have the ability to launch their products, new retailers are introduced to reps, and most importantly, everyone comes together in person which creates our community.
And I think for retailers, I dare say they will go back to their stores with a refreshed attitude, orders written, new products found, questions answered and stories to tell. Being around others in the community is just good for business and attitudes.
Is the Delta variant impacting the show? Will there be safety precautions in place?
Roy Turner: Of course, on both accounts. We respect the concerns of all. We are not out of this yet, but having held a safe event in January, our attendees know that we can and will make every effort to provide a safe environment inside our show by following CDC guidelines and our own additional safety protocols. You can find current information on our website.
I think something to remember here is that we are not a public event – 99% of those in attendance are exhibitors and qualified retailers. Retailers have found a way to navigate through COVID safely whether through masks, vaccinations, social distancing or a combination of all. Reps have done the same. We are not asking everyone to spend the day at Disney, we are bringing together a select audience, with mask mandates per CDC guidelines in a space that has been adjusted for social distancing, has a GBAC Star accreditation, with elevated cleaning protocols.
We followed a similar procedure in January with much success and feel that our September show will follow suit. A research report was just released that found attending in-person business events is safer than daily activities like going to the grocery store.
We are looking forward to bringing everyone together safely to conduct business.