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Sports Licensing and Tailgate Show
Day 1

Sports Authority creator Jack Smith
Buyers Writing Business as Show Gets Off to Solid Start
January 21, 2009

America’s unquenchable thirst for sports was on display Wednesday in Las Vegas on opening day of the Sports Licensing & Tailgate Show. Thousands of innovative and imaginative new products were presented to the industry, which is counting on the passion and pocketbooks of millions of fans to keep it humming during trying times. Exhibitors were upbeat in the opening hours, as retailers flooded the aisles and got right down to business.

“These people are buying,” observed Jack Smith, who led a group of retailers on his Tour de Force. “When you see some of the items here it’s unbelievable—these are things consumers will be spending their dollars on.”

Darryl McDaniels

Eye-popping merchandise was everywhere, from NFL-emblazoned electric guitars (Pro Specialties Group) to MLB Pez dispensers (Pez Candy) to Christmas trees in college team colors (Team Trees). In the Tailgating area of the show buyers oohed and aahed over ingenious products such as a portable chair with a heated seat and built-in cooler (Inno-Labs), and a single-use barbecue grill that fires up with no charcoal (FlameDisk).

Also drawing a crowd was Darryl McDaniels of Run DMC fame, who will be performing at the show’s Wednesday night Tailgate Party. McDaniels appeared in the Nokona Brands booth.

Marc Rubin is having a busy show at Jersey Driven

“The floor is buzzing,” said Show Director Ann Keusch. “Buyers clearly have come here to find new products for their customers, and they like what they see.”

Traffic in the gift and novelty booths was especially strong. The folks in these categories believe that sales of licensed products will remain healthy in the coming year. Marc Rubin of Jersey Driven—which is having a busy show--agrees, adding that the “combination of value, quality and affordable pricing” is key.

Given the day’s brisk activity, Thursday’s Why They Buy noon luncheon panel should be especially interesting. Retailers will have a chance to quiz a group of “super fans” on what they will and will not be looking for in 2009.

Matt Garza of the Tampa Bay Rays stopped by the Hollywood Collectibles booth. Garza is one of a handful of celebs walking the floor this week.


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