Surf Expo connects buyers with products and brands in the boardsports, resort and beach lifestyle marketplace. The September 2015 edition of the show achieved just that, with more than 2,300 exhibitors, 300+ new brands and buyers from 47 states and 68 countries.
The show floor offered a vibrant and diverse array of product categories all of which have water in their DNA. Categories included Surf, Wake, Wind, SUP, Skate, Swim, Footwear, Boutique, Resort and Gift as well as several emerging categories including Coastal Gift, Performance, Tech and Freedive.
“Surf Expo’s September event continues to evolve into an all-encompassing water & resort marketplace. If a business is influenced in any way by water and the lifestyles that surround it, Surf Expo is the place to be. The breadth of product mix and exhibitors provides multiple buying opportunities for our attendees,” said Surf Expo Show Director and SVP, Roy Turner.
The show saw a 9 percent increase in retail store attendance, with buyers taking advantage of the show’s crossover categories to differentiate their product mix. The show attracted nearly 2,000 first time buyers to the show. Surf Expo qualifies all buyers who register to attend, and only those who meet the retail qualifications are approved to attend the show.
Brooke Brockner, Buyer & Manager for Noble House Hotels & Resorts / Ocean Key Resort & Spa, commented “Surf Expo is an important show for me- especially when I am not able to attend gift shows. Buying for a resort boutique, Surf Expo is the place where I can see my major apparel vendors as well as coastal gift and logo items.”
A few highlights from the show included:
Board Demo Day – Held at the Orlando Watersports Complex, more than 50 wake, wind and SUP brands showcased their latest gear and accessories for buyers to try out and test on the water.
The Neighborhood– Tucked in the heart of the surf section debuted The Neighborhood, curated with nearly 50 like-minded California lifestyle-driven brands centered around a lounge where buyers could meet up in between appointments, grab a hand-crafted coffee or toast to a successful day at happy hour.
Wakeboarding Magazine’s Wake Awards– On opening night of Surf Expo the wake industry’s top riders and who’s-who, converged at the annual Wakeboarding Magazine Wake Awards. Honorees included Best Wakeboarder Harley Clifford, Best Woman’s Rider Meagan Ethell, and Photographer of the year Rodrigo Donoso.
AWSI and SUPconnect’s Wind Industry Awards – On Friday night after the show, the Association of Wind Industry (AWSI) held the Windsurf and Kitesurf Awards and the SUPconnect Editor’s Choice Awards. The standing room only event brought a record crowd representing three industries to celebrate their athletes, brands and retailers.
East Coast Hall of Fame 2016 – The East Coast Surfing Hall of Fame unveiled the 2016 Hall of Fame inductees on opening day of the show. The inductees included Father of Surfing Duke Kohanamoku and 10 others who have made great contributions to the preservation of the history and heritage of East Coast Surfing. The 2016 East Coast Surfing Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will take place at Surf Expo in January 2016.
Wakeboarding Hall of Fame – Wakeboarding Hall of Fame announced the first class of inductees at The Alliance Wake Lounge. The roster included the legendary Herb O’Brien, industry pioneers Tony Finn and Jimmy Redmon.
WSIA- The Watersports Industry Association – A silent auction held at the show by WSIA, that raised $10,000 which will be donated to two wake athletes who were seriously injured in 2014; pro wakeboarder Brad Smelee and pro wakeskater Matt Manzari.
Big Pitch – Twenty Surf Expo exhibitors pitched their most innovative product to a panel of product development and merchandising experts from The Big Pitch. The panel, lead by Kevin Harrington, an original “Shark” from the hit show Shark Tank, will select several of the exhibitors to be included in a surf/beach themed shopping program to air in 80 million homes this fall.
PADI – The Professional Association of Diving Instructors previewed their new PADI Freediver Touch tablet-based educational materials at the show. Freediving is gaining in popularity among water and adventure enthusiasts, and is a natural crossover sport for surfing and other watersports. PADI will officially launch the new program in November 2015 and offer training in freediving as well as scuba diving.
SIMA StokesMe – Friday’s events included a charity-focused Happy Hour benefiting the Surf Industry Manufacturers Association’s (SIMA) Humanitarian Fund’s StokesMe campaign. Hosted in the Surf Section’s Neighborhood Lounge, the Happy Hour event saw a constant line of people excited to make a donation in exchange for a complimentary beer. Funds raised went straight to StokesMe’s 15 surf-focused humanitarian organizations dedicated to improving the lives, health and/or welfare of people around the world.
D. Nachnani, Owner of Coastal Edge Surf Shop in Virginia Beach, VA commented, “I really appreciate Surf Expo and the convenience it gives me as a retailer on the East Coast to discuss my business while it is fresh on everyone’s mind at the end of my biggest seasons with our manufacturers.”
“It’s very rare that you have the opportunity for your reps to come in and see 100+ accounts in three days and be able to write those orders early,” said Eric Thomas, VP of Sales, Billabong.
Eric Miura, Owner of Déjà Vu Surf in Kauai, Hawaii said, “We placed a lot of orders with new vendors and were able to hold numerous meetings with our existing vendors. Coming from Hawaii, we don’t have the chance to meet most of our vendors face to face, and Surf Expo gives us that opportunity. “
“The show was great. Appointments were busy and it was extra nice to have the opportunity to see so many dealers from around the country and outside the country,” commented Pepi Gerald, Owner of 2nd Wind Sports in Hood River, OR.
Josh Hansen, Owner of Hansen Surfboards, Encinitas, CA added, “You guys have the best show by far! I use these shows to get face time with the top dogs at all the brands and also to get a feel for where the industry is headed.”
The next Surf Expo will be held Jan. 14-16, 2016. For information on exhibiting or attending, please visit surfexpo.com.