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Industry storms Atlanta for August's Spring Market
Aug '10
It was more of the same for the August 13-15 Atlanta Shoe Market: more exhibiting companies, more product lines, more retailers in attendance. For more than a decade the show has been adding exhibitors and attendees at a pace nothing short of remarkable. So much so that, with 1680 lines, The Atlanta Shoe Market is now the U.S.'s largest shoe market.

“We simply listen and try to do what is best for our industry,” noted Laura Conwell-O'Brien, show manager and executive director of show sponsor Southeastern Shoe Travelers Association.

Simple as Conwell-O'Brien's formula may seem, she and the sponsoring association's board of directors have been steadfast in building on several key elements that make the show successful. The show is scheduled to provide the best and most convenient opportunity for retailers to buy their lines for the upcoming seasons. As such, The Atlanta Shoe Market has fostered a buying environment; all lines are under one roof at Atlanta's Cobb Galleria Centre, so it is easy for retailers to make their rounds and multiple appointments. Exhibiting and attending is inexpensive: Atlanta is easy to get to; hotel rates are low; there is even free parking for those who drive.

For the August Spring Market, the numbers again bore out those benefits: a 30 percent increase in booths to more than 1,000 displaying 1680 product lines; retailer pre-show registration up 15 percent; more than 18 percent more exhibitor personnel than the 2009 Spring Market; and amazingly, considering the show has grown over the last decade by more than 200 percent, 46 percent more companies this year than last to exhibit at The Atlanta Shoe Market for the first time.

“All the major retailers are here,” gleamed Trimfoot's George Mustafa who helped introduce a new segmented area designated for children's lines, the Kids Shoe Box, at February's Fall Market and was back in the area for this show. “And they are here from everywhere – California, Texas, everywhere.”

Following the success of the Kids Show Box at the 2010 Fall Market, Conwell-O'Brien introduced another segmented section, Fashion Collection, for “better” and “salon” category brands, at this show. The new sections help keep the bigger show as easy and convenient to work as when it was a small, regional show. Tim Patwell, who oversees sales in the U.S. and Canada for Camper, one of the companies to exhibit initially at the 2010 Spring Market, was also one of the firms in the new Fashion Collection area.

“If these styles are what you carry, having them grouped together makes it more convenient to find and meet with all your suppliers,” he commented. “Then you can go see what's new at the rest of the show after you've had your meetings.”

Patwell called The Atlanta Shoe Market “the best” of more than a dozen industry shows he attends regularly. “It's the best value for exhibitor and retailer. They make it easy and convenient for everybody.”

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