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Asked and Answered
Buyers Talk to Buyers in New Networking Program
May 9, 2008

“If you don’t see what you’re looking for...Ask!” Often said by retailers, this is the basis of a new program by the Sports Licensing & Tailgate Show. More than a dozen veteran retailers and distributors have been enlisted to answer questions posed by buyers who have not yet attended the show.

After an analysis of the sharp rise in attendance at the 2008 show, an “Ask Me” peer-to-peer forum was created. “A high percentage of new attendees came to Las Vegas on the recommendation of buyers who had been to the previous show,” explains Ann Keusch, Show Director. “We can market the Sports Licensing & Tailgate Show all we want, but in the end buyers attend because they have talked to other buyers, and they have good things to say.”

None of the 17 buyers involved in the “Ask Me” program are compensated; all have volunteered to give honest, unfiltered answers to any questions about the show. Keusch explains that the program is an extension of the networking events and industry panels that take place during the show. The retailers represented by this peer group range from chains like Target and Academy Sports & Outdoors to independent sports licensed and tailgate stores, like Create-A-Plaque, Retail Sales, Inc. and more.

Alan Chvotkin of Create-A-Plaque is looking forward to fielding questions from small businesses like the one he and his wife own. Chvotkin says the Sports Licensing & Tailgate Show works for them because it provides face-to-face access to hundreds of manufacturers. He appreciates the fact that there are designers at many of the exhibits hungry for input on future products. He also likes the “surprises” each show holds.

“We have a lot of repeat customers and they’re always looking for something new,” says Chvotkin, whose Maryland store has a loyal sports licensing clientele. “We see things in categories at this show we hadn’t even thought of.”

Mike Seegers of Massachusetts-based distributor Retail Sales Inc. likes the size and make-up of the show. Having the major sports licensing entities exhibiting on the floor with so many licensees is a huge benefit, he says.

“The number of leagues and categories and products represented in one room really opened our eyes to new possibilities for our business,” Seegers explains.

Many of the individuals available for questions in the Ask Me program are not permitted to give quotes for publication, but are happy to talk business with their peers. Off the record, they agree with Chvotkin and Seegers about the importance of attending the show.

“It works because you have a core of sports licensing and tailgate vendors in one place,” says Chvotkin. “Those vendors need to be there for the retailers, and in turn the retailers need to be there to support the vendors.”

“This is the place to be if you’re in the sports licensing or tailgate business,” says Seegers.



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